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Why to invest in high price books, if you can get them on meagre rent

Why to invest in high price books, if you can get them on meagre rent
Image credit: IndiaReads.com
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There are many people who love to read books but due to high price of books, they choose to visit library. Moreover in many cases, these people don’t find library nearby them which leads them to stay away from their reading habit.

To cater this issue and provide affordable reading, Gunjan Veda in 2009 started IndiaReads.com, a unique rental platform for books and other knowledge sharing resources.

For Veda, rental as a concept emerged from the goal of making resources accessible and affordable. In 2013, Veda handed over the charge to Pranil Bafna and Shreyans Mehta to make IndiaReads a one of its kind e-commerce platform in India.

After taking charge by them, Indiareads.com started evolving into many cross verticals and then began its journey as a fully functional commercial book rental platform in India.

Entrepreneur India caught up with Pranil Bafna, Co-founder & CEO, IndiaReads.com, to put in perspective its mission and vision. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

What inspired you to enter this segment?

I was working with an MNC in Gurgaon when Gunjan offered me this opportunity. Although I don't exactly remember the actual reason for accepting the offer, it is mostly because I always wanted to be an entrepreneur myself. I come from a college that has given India one of the best entrepreneurs in the recent past and so I was always filled with the desire to create a difference. I liked the Idea. Renting has great potential both on business and ethical fronts. The model sounded pretty scalable plus the fact that the concept was around making reading affordable and accessible was itself something that would inspire a lot of us.

What services/offering do you offer to your users?

For Retailers- We offer our users 1.8 lakh titles on our website distributed over 50 genres including fiction, non-fiction, romance, self help, autobiographies, etc. We also offer academic books for engineers, doctors, lawyers, arts, etc. as well as competitive books for UPSC, BANK, etc.

For Corporates- We offer pan-India reading platforms for corporate clients in their offices. Apart from physical books, we offer employee engagement through competency building, emails, social networking, etc. to our clients to help inculcate a reading culture in the company.

Educational Institutes- Just like corporate, students are registered under their institutes. The rest works as retail.

What’s your revenue and business model?

There are three verticals in our business model: retail, corporate and educational institutes. In retail, we charge users on per book basis that includes an initial payable amount inclusive of book rental cost. Upon the return of a book, the rental cost is deducted and the rest is refunded to the user to order more books.

If we talk about corporate, we work with our clients on license basis per month. We have tied up with educational institutes and students can order and pre-order books based on their requirements.

What is your current traction? How many users are currently using your platform?

IndiaReads.com supported more than 15,000 rental transactions last month and has processed more than 1 lakh book-rentals in past 1 year.

In retail, we have around five lakh active users registered on our platform. If we talk about corporate, there are about three lakh employees who use our services and to name few we have currently around more than 50 corporate clients like Mahindra, Genpact, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank.

What are plans to expand your reach?

Indiareads.com is present is over 550 cities in India covering almost all major cities including Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Ahmedabad, etc. We also offer our services in Tier 2 and 3 cities like Singlur, Morababad and Varanasi. We already deliver to very remote locations and in near future we plan to reach out to more such places.

In how many categories are you currently dealing with?

We offer over 50 categories including fiction, non-fiction, romance, self help and autobiographies. We also offer academic books for engineers, doctors, lawyers, arts, etc. as well as competitive books for UPSC, BANK, etc.

How do you see growth scenario in this business? What are your future growth and expansion plans?

Rental model is pretty scalable. It works on sharing economy so definitely, there is a huge scope. IndiaReads is looking to build its warehouse network to multiple cities from its current setup in Noida and Kota to deliver efficiently across the country.

Meanwhile, we are also working to provide digital content like online courses and ebooks. Our vision is to create a knowledge resource sharing hub where people can have access to products at affordable rates. As of now, our focus is on launching an app so that a user can easily read content and order.

Edition: October 2016

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