Published: 08th November 2018
The Book House in Delhi has 30,000 books to offer for just Rs 10
While their offline channel of distribution wherein NGOs come over to The Book House to collect books is functioning well, they have recently launched an online channel
Over two million children in India cannot afford a book to read. Delhi-based NGO Guzarish's flagship initiative Books For All aims to provide books to underprivileged kids to help them inculcate the habit of reading. Started by Ankit Manchanda and three of his friends — Jaibeer Singh, Prachi Luthra and Sanymi Gupta — Books For All has, till now, distributed 18,000 books to around 50,000 kids.
Ankit Manchanda graduated and landed a cushy job but there was a constant urge to give back. "While each one of us were associated with some social initiatives individually, we together came up with the idea of launching this initiative — Books For All — as we believed that reading books would improve their academics, their creativity, help them develop empathy and more," says Ankit.
Team Work: Ankit Manchanda with three of his friends — Jaibeer Singh, Prachi Luthra and Sanymi Gupta (Pic: Books For All)
Books For All follows a simplistic model for their operation. They offer free pickup of used as well as new books from a donor's house in Delhi-NCR on their preferred day. They also organise book donation drives in societies, schools and corporates. "Each book that reaches our warehouse in Delhi is categorised class-wise, subject-wise and genre-wise. Post this categorisation, all books are barcoded for effective tracking and rigorous data collection. Lastly, books are neatly displayed on the shelves of our library which we call 'The Book House'," explains Sankalp Chabbra, an early stage volunteer and an integral part of the team now. "We invite credible NGOs (such as Teach For India and Deepalya) working with kids or government school kids to 'Pick-A-Book' — our book exhibition wherein they can visit The Book House and choose the books they require. Each book is priced at Rs 10 which is used to cover the operational cost of running the organisation."
During their conversation with donors for feedback, the team got to know some donors who donated books which they used to read to their kids at bedtime; some donors donated books of their parents who were avid readers and have now passed away. "All of them wanted us to make sure these books, an important part of their or their family's lives, should be used properly by someone. These instances gave us the realisation that it is our duty towards all donors to make sure their books are being read by someone rather than just lying on a shelf," says Prachi, co-founder of Guzarish.
Feedback: They collect reviews written by kids reading the books about what they liked about the book (Pic: Books For All)
Thus, they developed a system wherein they collect reviews written by kids reading the books about what they liked about the book, what they learnt from the book, etc. "To make the process robust, our partners are allowed to take the next lot of books only if they have submitted reviews for the previous lot. The students love the program as they get to choose books from a very wide range of more than 30,000 quality books. We get around 50-100 kids every week, lined up to enter The Book House before our opening time and get their hand on their favorite books," adds Sanymi.
While their offline channel of distribution wherein NGOs come over to The Book House to collect books is functioning well, they have recently launched an online channel where NGOs in any part of the country can see 30-40 per cent of their catalogue on the website and order books. "We take online payment and courier them the books. We want to scale up this model now," says Ankit, talking about their plans of expansion. "While most of the books donated to us are required by our beneficiaries, a certain category of books such as MBA course books are not needed. Hence, we have started recycling the paper from these books, choosing content that is in demand and has a free license to print, and finally publishing our own books. For example, we have recently published a coloring book for kids with 20 cartoons."
With the scale of the project increasing every month, they are planning to expand the team. "Anyone interested can write to us on our website. Once we have scaled up and trained our team, in the next 6-12 months, we aim to launch our second store in one of the metro cities and thus make our service more accessible to NGOs working in other parts of the country," concludes Ankit.
Donate or reach out to them at: http://www.booksforall.org.in