All book lovers and avid readers know the true power of a good book and the experience that comes along with it, they are truly the doorways to another world. Reading not only educates you, but is equally relaxing and allows you to feed your imagination. But oftentimes not all of us are fortunate enough to afford to buy books and not all of us have access to books we want to read.
Ensuring that everyone, regardless of their age and financials, gets to read the books they want, Nasala Maharjan, a teacher by profession has come up with Books Inn, a paradise for book lovers. Located in Patan Dhoka, she via Books Inn visions to cultivate reading culture among kids at a very young age!
Read our conversation with the very humble Ms. Maharjan to know about her venture, Books Inn.
How did the concept of Book Inns come about?
The school that I teach in started an extensive reading program where students were provided non-curricular books. Only after a few months, as a teacher I saw huge changes among students, both written and verbal communication improved, they were more confident and their knowledge horizon also expanded. To make sure I wasn’t imagining this, I enquired with other teachers and they too saw the development vividly. I was both amused and happy for the change that was taking place due to a simple update in the school policy.
However, at the same time, I started thinking about the children who were not well off and whose schools and educational institutions did not have a library. I realised that a lot of kids were missing out on such a huge opportunity because of factors that were beyond their control. So, that is when I thought about starting a library and that is how the concept of Books Inn came about. I then immediately started researching on most demanded books, rented out a space and established Books Inn on the 10th of January 2021 in Patan Dhoka.
What are the social changes you are trying to bring through Books Inn?
The first and most important aspect is we are working on bringing a change in the perception of people regarding the books and its importance. Foreigners generally cultivate the habit of book reading among their children at a very young age of 1 or 2 years, but in Nepal that is not the trend. So I want to cultivate that culture among parents here.
The next is to make books accessible to everyone, regardless of their financials or age. At Books Inn you will find all sorts of books for people from different age groups.
And finally, we want to make people understand that we can read great books without actually having to empty our pockets !
What are the major challenges running Books Inn?
Initially bringing everything together, like deciding what books to showcase, creating a list and checking out their reviews online, was tough but I would say it was needed to ensure that I had a concrete foundation.
Currently reaching out to more and more people is challenging. We have been marketing via Instagram as of now and we are looking for other ways too.
Where do you get books from for your library?
Currently I am getting my books from Books Mandala. They really do have a wide range of books. Honestly till date I have been able to find all the books that my members have requested.
Do you buy the books yourself for the library or do the bookshops sponsor them to you?
No, the books are not sponsored, I have been buying them from my end. Yes, I do get some discounts as I buy in bulk but all the books that we have are bought. Initially I bought around 200 most read books from my own money, now the membership charge covers the purchase cost for us.
So, I would say we are a self sustaining venture.
Who are your allies in running the venture?
I look after the library. My cousins, Timila and Pawan Maharjan, help me with social media. So, we are currently three people involved in running the venture.
How many members do you have?
In a span of 5 months, we have been able to have 100 plus active members which has given me a sense of validation that I am on the right track.
What are your future plans for Books Inn?
Currently we are just operating as a normal library where people come and visit us. So, in the near future we are planning to approach schools and educational institutions, particularly those who do not have a library. Actually we have already taken a step towards this, we are in talks with Little Flower School, located in Sankhamul.
In addition to this, we will be working on marketing Books Inn so that we have more members and we will also work on bringing more genres of books.
How can people apply for membership? Do they have to visit the library itself to get the books?
People can apply for membership via our Instagram page or can visit us in Patan Dhoka, whichever is convenient. We do have the facility of delivering the books to our members. All they need to do is send us a message on our page.
Till date, I have seen that people prefer to visit us maybe because they have the freedom of going through the books themselves and they also get to know what books we currently have. One of my members told me that she loves visiting the library as she gets to explore the book and pick the one she likes.
Are there certain rules that the book borrowers have to follow?
Rather than rules I would say we have some policies in place to ensure the security of the books. Initially, the members can borrow only one book at a time for a month. If they don’t finish the book in the given span, then they can always renew the books by giving us a call, or sending a message or visiting the library. So, these are the policies we have in place as of now.
How has your journey been so far?
It has been a wonderful journey till date, the joy of working for something you are passionate about is truly unexplainable. Also, the fact that I have been able to spread the wisdom that books give, even though indirectly, is really self fulfilling. And the support I have received from everyone has taught me that people are always there for you, you just have to keep doing the right thing. In addition, this is just the beginning, I am really excited to see what is in store for Books Inn in the future!
Do you love reading? Are you eager to build a habit of reading? If yes, Books Inn might be a perfect place and perfect start for you!
Make sure to check out their Instagram page, @books.inn1 to know more!
Interviewed and Article by Trishna Shakya