“We take emerging Indian authors closer to their reader base”, Priyanka Singhal, Castle of Books
There are numerous book rental services in India with new ones coming up at a very rapid pace. These services are growing in proportion to the increasing demand for books. Youth in India is on a constant look out for gaining extra knowledge, and Castle of Books(COB) is one such venture that caters to this need. Jubin Mehta for YourStory.in caught up with entrepreneur Priyanka Singhal to know more about this venture.From when has Castle of Books been in business? How big is your library?
My first venture Editors Delight has been in existence for the last 3 years, and I started Castle of Books in March, 2011. Castle of Books was started as a renting library with the aim of providing books to readers in Delhi and NCR. We let users order books through different channels like website, sms, Facebook, email and over the phone. We also sell books at huge discounts, which we make possible due to our close association with publishers. Our library currently comprises of 500 plus names with more and more additions every day. Since the venture is self-funded, money is a huge constraint in the initial phases to build up a fairly comprehensive library. Books are selected from various genres like classics, latest attractions, national and international bestsellers, self study materials, entertainment, management and business.
How do you plan to expand?
We at present operate out of Delhi and NCR, but plan to cover the rest of India as well shortly. As far as sale of books online is concerned, it is already happening at a pan-India level at good discounts. As far as the logistics go, we are looking to partner strategically with local libraries and publishers. But, since we are very young our first focus would be Delhi and NCR. We want to make sure that our business is stabilized in this region first.
How are you different from other book rentals? Why would someone choose Castle of Books over any other similar players?
We offer certain distinct advantages over other rentals. We have COD (Cash on Delivery) as one of the payment systems. We have made sure that library is rich with Indian authors. We suggest books based on our users’ reading styles and preferences. This helps them catch up on their reading faster and better. And, we allow multiple channels to order the books including phone, sms, social media and email. Our monthly newsletter updates users about all the latest happenings in literary circles. But, the biggest differentiator has been our one-time free rentals. We ask our readers to try out our one-time rental scheme to gauge our service, post which they can subscribe to our membership. This has helped many customers get comfortable with us and our service.
How do you make money?
Our revenue model is simple; we have various membership plans. To give you some idea, we broke even in our first month of operation and are planning to build up on that.
You're planning to open a new line of business. Tell us more about it.
Our analytics from online renting provided us an important insight. It was that readers are lapping on to Indian authors. They like to read what emerging Indian authors write. Typical example is “A Sunny Shady Life” which is written by Sachin Garg. Another example of such an author is Kunal Bhardwaj whose book “Love was never mind” is in great demand recently. These books are easy to read and the flavour is completely Indian. But then a chance meeting with couple of authors surfaced the point that they find it extremely difficult to market their books because of which every author does not get the limelight he/she deserves. Then we assumed the role of a marketer for these young authors. We diversified into launches, coverage, reader meets and social media marketing for authors. Through our monthly newsletter and other services like launches, social media marketing and online directory, we take young emerging authors closer to their reader base. Since the time we launched this service, we have been contacted by 20 authors out of whom 3-4 are close to signing us up. Rohit Gore and Kunal Bhardwaj are a few of the authors who have already signed up with us.
Do check out more details about their venture here.