Online book renting (or online libraries) is catching up with readers and students in Delhi. Renting portals can be seen putting up their stalls in university campuses and corporate offices in the capital. Portal owners and book borrowers say that online renting is convenient, cheap and the books are delivered at the doorstep. Even the bestsellers are said to be available instantly as they hit the market.
The city has around four to five to online libraries. Prominent of these are indiareads.com, happyreading.in, bookmeabook.com, etc.
According to the staff of indiareads.com, who put up their stall at Jamia Millia Islamia campus on Monday, membership for their portal opens at Rs 150 a month for two books; for Rs 500 a borrower may get unlimited books to read in a month. "But a reader has to return the first set of books to get another delivery," clarified the staff.
Online libraries claim that their membership bases are increasing at a steady pace. "We started with only 50 members in the first month and since then we have about 100 members joining every month," said Gunjan Veda, founder CEO of indiareads. According to Veda, they have a presence in 70 cities across India.
"Initially, we had 98% of the members opting for the cheapest plan but now only 45% continue to opt for the same, while others have moved up the renting ladder," added Veda.
The libraries follow the three golden R's of renting — requesting, reading and returning, respectively. The books are delivered and collected free of cost, plus there are no late fees and deadlines. "Members can keep the books as long as they like, provided they pay the subscription fees regularly," said Veda.
Some of the readers, who are renting books from these libraries, told this correspondent that it has helped reduce their expenditure on books. "I used to spend over Rs 2,000 a month for books alone, until I switched over to online renting which has reduced my expense to just Rs 300 a month," said Rupanshi Anand, a research manager in the Indian Market Research Bureau.
"Due to my busy schedule I don't get the time to visit libraries and being a fervent reader I simply rent books online," added Rupanshi.