Sales have gone down by 70%, say owners
Sellers of second-hand books on Avenue Road have suffered a huge drop in sales post-Covid, forcing many to shut down their businesses. Online book platforms have curbed physical sales at bookshops.
These bookstores were a favourite among students. More than 300 books shops sell second-hand books. Academic and competitive books, comics, novels and spiritual books attract people from across Bengaluru.
Fesenta Praiselin, a student, said: “This is my first visit to Avenue Road, on a friend’s suggestion. I have come to buy a few books for my upcoming PGCET exam.”
Books stalls and shops nowadays see no crowds. They make just Rs 700 to Rs 800 a day, a result of a 70 per cent drop in sales.
P.D. Anjanappa, owner of Sree Dhanalakshmi Book Centre, informed The Observer: “I have been running this business for the past 30 years. Currently, almost 80 per cent of my sales have dropped because people have turned to PDFs and Xerox copies instead of physical textbooks. Academic textbooks were the most sold books in my shop; now nobody comes to buy these.”
Along with the bookshops, there are a lot of book stalls on the Avenue Road footpath.
Anjaneya C, who sells books on the footpath, shared: “Previously, we never had problems with our business, though there were so many book stalls here. Currently, so many shops have been closed. Most of my neighbouring shops have vanished. I have no business these days.”
A.N.S. Murthy, another bookshop owner, said: “These days the number of people reading physical books has drastically reduced. Kids and youths are constantly engaged online. Ten years ago, the story was totally different. Before Covid, we used to earn Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 every day. Now we hardly earn Rs 600 to Rs 700.”
Availability of online platforms for books has made the buying and selling of books easier and cheaper.
Ramachandra, another bookshop owner, explained: “Online stores offer books cheaper. They have a return policy as well, which we can’t offer here. Home delivery is another option on online platforms which we cannot provide to our customers. But we sell authorized books… Book readers have reduced these days.”
Dr Harrison Michael, a regular customer at Avenue Road, said: “I am sad to see few people near bookshops. I started buying books from Avenue Road from my PUC college days. Now I have come to purchase a few medical books. It is true that customers prefer to buy books from their comfort zones. I see people complaining about health effects on children due to long hours online. There’s a hope that these sellers will improve their sales slowly. The physical touch can never be lost.”
Manju M.J., owner of Thejas Bookstore, explained: “I am in the last stage of shutting down the shop and moving back to my village. Business is dull, and I am unable to manage to pay the shop rent….”
Most booksellers are converting their shops into school and office supplies shops. A few who can’t do any other business have been forced to shut down their shops and move back to their villages.