Published By: Showli Chakraborty

Reading habit goes up during lockdown

Booksellers and publishers have recorded record sales online than ever before.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade whilst reading a book!

Publishers across the country have recorded a surprising online book sale figures. In fact, the demand is so high that there is mounting pressure for publishers and bookstores to have an online outlet during the pandemic. For the first time ever, more and more local publishers actually went live with a portal to sell books virtually.

Publishers are surprised

Sudhangshu Sekhar Dey, Honorary General Secretary Publishers and Booksellers’ Guild said, “When the lockdown was announced in March, Dey’s Publishing did not have an online store or a Facebook page. But with the shops shut business came to a standstill. We began to receive innumerable calls from our customers where they wanted the books to be delivered and make payments online. So within a month we set up our portal and also began to invest in digital marketing. To our surprise, more and more people started ordering online. This goes on to prove that people were buying and reading a lot more books during the lockdown.”

Bookstores in both metro cities and small towns across India have been witness to some sort of a digital revolution in terms of book sales. In fact, they have also received orders from places where they don’t have a physical store.

Personalized services at bookstores

Swagat Sengupta, CEO Oxford Bookstores said, “Yes, the pandemic has definitely led to more book sales. Oxford Bookstores have become more digitally active during the lockdown. We have had orders from all over India and tried to accommodate all of them. Sometimes people have ordered books and over the phone and sent their drivers to pick them up. Others have called up the store and asked for reading suggestions. This is a pan India phenomenon. We have even had digital book launches during pandemic. So one can safely say, people have gone back to reading all over again.”

Malabika Banerjee, Director Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet, said, “I am not a publisher myself but someone who works closely with publishers. In the last 8-10 weeks there has been a flutter among publishers mostly based in New Delhi who publish English books. Be it Penguin, Harper Collins or Amazon Westland Books. A lot of other new vendors have also come in, including numerous reading apps even in the vernacular sector.”

E-books & audiobooks

However, publishers need to be more flexible when it comes to e-books and audio-books. E-books are here to stay, and it is heartening to see them move along with trends. “This is the way people are going to read books from now on. A lot of my friends who live abroad have read works of Mahashweta Devi through audiobooks and e-books. Even children love to listen to audiobooks which is a good way to get them hooked to reading and storytelling.”