Chennai: Concerned over the fast declining habit of reading among people, especially students, a Kumbakonam-based bibliophile-cum-entrepreneur has started a four wheeler mobile lending library to reach out to customers in Thanjavur and Chennai districts.
The brainchild of G Murugaraj, son of a goldsmith and MBA graduate from Anna University, `Vallalar Library` has display, selection, delivery and return of books and spares people the trouble of locating books going through narrow spaces between racks and dusty shelves in traditional libraries.
"I started Vallalar Library four months back to create an awareness among people on reading as I realised the habit was fast declining. I took to this innovation since I wanted it to look appealing from our first meeting with customers,"he said.
The Library functions from a hired four wheeler five to six times a month in areas around Kumbakonam. "The van is only for visual appeal.Once customers become life members, I give them a list of books we have. As they SMS me the book number,
I or my assistant deliver it to them in my bike or his cycle. The van or my bike or cycle is used for the library," he says.
To attract potential customers, Murugaraj has his mobile library parked near temples, colleges and schools in Kumbakonam.
Today his library has 356 books under 17 classifications and 23 members. Anyone from Kumbakonam and Chennai can become a member by paying a life membership of Rs 300, borrow three books at a time and keep them for a week.
"I accept membership from Chennai too because I visit the city almost every week as I run an advertising agency there. I already have two members from that city," he said. Fired up with the ambition of starting his own venture, Murugaraj quit a lucrative job in a private bank in Chennai in 2010. "I worked with my father and was looking after his shop for sometime. Then I started the ad agency. I always loved books and wanted to spread the habit of reading."
Asked how he makes ends meet since he often hires a four wheeler, he says, "Yes, now I am investing but draw comfort from the number of people becoming members. I am happy that my friends, relatives and well wishers help out by donating books they have finished reading."
Counting on `Dial-a-book`s USP (Unique Selling Proposition), he says those interested can visit www.vallalarlibrary.wordpress.com or call 9524111188.
He now has an assistant to deliver books to people by a cycle. "Most of the books people borrow are on self development and health. We have mostly Tamil books and very few books in English and Hindi. We plan to increase the corpus as we get new members," says the 29-year old.