Bootstrapped startup BookMandee helps bibliophiles stop hoarding books they don’t need. The free online marketplace lets them buy, sell, or donate their used books.Apurva P
There’s no friend as loyal as a book, but there are times when we must unfriend some of the many books we own. Be it fiction, non-fiction, or academic, our old books can always be put to use by someone new.
Keen to simplify the way Indians buy and sell used books online, Taranpreet Singh and Anshul Mohan set up the BookMandee platform. Delhi-based BookMandee, which was launched in 2018, lets people buy, sell, or donate their old books within the city they live in. The sellers can decide the rates at which they want to sell.
“This platform will make it easier for people to take care of their old books the right way and avoid selling them in scrap. To put it simply, BookMandee connects people for exchanging old books, paid or free, within their city in India,” Taranpreet says.
Taranpreet and Anshul, friends from school, were keen to do “something unique” as a business. The thought of connecting two end users through the medium of books interested both of them.
Taranpreet explains, “It’s the story of every home in India: cupboards are filled with old books. We thought it would be good if we could connect people who have old books with those willing to buy them.”
That led to the launch of BookMandee, which aims to ensure that used, old books are never sold as scrap.The founding duo invested a total of Rs 50,000 to get the online marketplace up and running.
Taranpreet, 26, is an engineering graduate, while Anshul Mohan, 25, is from a sales and marketing background. Both of them passed out from Delhi University.
Taranpreet, who has experience of managing websites, works as a content writer in the digital marketing industry in a Gurugram firm.
However, Anshul, who is working on setting up a business in the education sector, is not an active participant in the BookMandee startup as of now; Taranpreet is managing and marketing BookMandee on his own at present. Anshul is more involved in the book ad approvals on the platform; this involves checking books for relevance and ratifying them to appear on BookMandee.
The only challenge the duo faced was finding a web developer who could help them set up their site. They ultimately turned to a freelancer to get the job done.
People who want to sell off old books need to create a “book-ad” on the platform; this offers information on the condition of the books and includes images and price details. It is possible to add a ‘Preferred Meet-up Location’ in the ad details, so interested buyers can make their decision easily.
All book-ads need to be submitted for approval. Once approved, they are made visible on the platform.
“This ensures that all live book-ads on BookMandee are verified,” he says.
People interested in buying can use the primary filter on the platform to find available books. After choosing their book(s), all they need to do is to register/login from that book-ad page and get the contact details of the book owner. They can contact the book owner via phone or on email before meeting in person to get the books.
Those who want to donate old books can do so by setting the price in the book-ad as zero. People interested in getting donated books can use the filter options to see available books.
Taranpreet claims to have 200-300 active users every day on the platform and a regular traffic of around 10,000 visitors per month. He says that more people are placing book-ads in the academic segment as compared to the other sections on BookMandee.
According to Nielsen, the book sales sector in India is estimated to be $6.76 billion now and is set to grow at an average compound annual growth rate of 19.3 percent until 2020.
BookMandee, which is solely dedicated to books, has around 200 categories and sub-categories to make it easier for both booksellers and buyers to connect on this interactive platform.
Bookchor, Aberuk, and Bx-zone are some of the Indian startups operating in the space, while BookScouter, Powell’s, and e-Campus are working internationally. Most of these startups deal with reselling and buying academic or fiction books with suggested book prices, deals, and recommendations.
“I think the core objective we built BookMandee with– that used books never lose value, even if they age - sets us apart,” Taranpreet says.
“Monetising this platform will be our first priority. This will be done by implementing Adsense, doing paid reviews, and selling new books on the platform,” Taranpreet says.
He adds that they will add more features such as buying old books from sellers and selling them to interested buyers in the same city, “earning a fraction of the book cost in between”.
Taranpreet adds that he wants more people to know about BookMandee and start using the platform. “To achieve this, I implement SEO techniques, social media campaigning, content development etc. for the platform,” he says.
Will this online marketplace for books have people booked? We’ll have to wait and watch.