In a city that prizes literature and culture above all else, Tarun Kumar Shaw has won many hearts. The bibliophiles in the bustling streets of Kolkata are unanimously fond of Tarun and the services he provides. With an unique personal book home delivery service, Tarun can sniff out any book you want, be it across the border or under a stack of dusty publications.
Tarun-da, as he is popularly known in Kolkata, has a fan base that includes the likes of Vir Sanghvi and Aveek Sarkar. Seated on his trusted two wheeler, he personally delivers every book, charging a commission on sales. With a proud legacy spanning over three decades, Tarun has been running what is possibly the only personal book home delivery service in Kolkata.
From leading media houses to corporate hideouts, Tarun-da gracefully toggles with an all-access pass. In fact, he has entry to places where even delivery services like Amazon take a miss. In the streets of a city that has been true to its literature enthusiasts, Tarun surely walks away with the spotlight.
Tarun's father Gopal Lal Shaw once owned a bookstore 'Dey and Brothers' in the city. Ever since its closing, he has been personally delivering books to every client in the city. His keen eye when it comes to books, spanning categories like science, general knowledge, and the classics, among others, has quenched the old school thirst for books in reading-crazy Kolkata.
Fifty three-year-old Tarun told Scroll,
It was to reach out to the die-hard reader, and his old clients, that my father decided to start this door-to-door book-selling service. Our USP was our ability to procure imported newspapers and journals within days, sometimes hours. We only procure on demand. Where is the space to stock books?
An avid reader himself, Tarun was eventually joined by his elder brother. Their knack for building conversations over the love of books has always worked in their favour. Tarun says,
I have always loved talking to people about books. And once I have spent some time with anyone, I get a sense of what he or she would like to read. Next time we meet, I would suggest 10 books, out of which, I guarantee you, the client will like at least one.
In a metropolis with 4.5 million inhabitants, Tarun, along with his brother and son, challenge the services of Amazon, says a Washington Post report. With a penchant for books in English and Bengali, the regional language, the city of Kolkata has housed some of the prominent faces of Indian literature. With the advent of technology and alternative forms of reading, Tarun says,
One generation gave up reading. But younger people are moving back to books. Kindle could not wipe it out. But why have we not been able to produce any writer of consequence after, say, a Sunil Gangopadhyay [one of Bengal’s most respected authors]? Why are Paulo Coelho, Jeffrey Archer failing to produce bestsellers?
With e-commerce and libraries having fairly generic identities, individuals like Tarun have written their own story. KopyKitab, India’s first online textbook rental portal, and Dial-a-Book, a one-of-its-kind service that lets you order all kinds of books and novels over the phone, have similarly crafted their own identity in the market, winning the hearts of bibliophiles as well.