Every book lover has a unique reading preference. Some can’t bear to read anything other than original copies and will gladly spend their money for the scent of fresh pages, while others prefer to read reasonably priced, locally printed books or simply borrow from their friends and family. This week, we take a look at one such online book shop catering to the unique needs of diverse readers in Bangladesh.
Being ardent bookworms since childhood, Nuzaimul Hoq Xishan and his sister Kasfia Haque Samara have experienced the burden of expenses borne by avid readers. It often becomes highly impractical, especially for students to continue buying and reading original books, even though book lovers desperately wait for new arrivals. And that's exactly what propelled Nuzaimul and Kasfia to start Worthy Books BD – an online book store in Dhaka that's serving its customers with economical versions of pricey foreign books.
Studying English Literature at ULAB, both Nuzaimul and Kasfia used to look for original books to read but since they were so expensive and equally difficult to find, the siblings began to wonder how to make this process as simple and easy for other book lovers. Inspired by this thought, Worthy Books BD started its journey in May last year, providing local prints of foreign English books. The prices range from Tk120 to Tk220 for most of the books and it usually takes up to 48 hours to deliver the books after confirming the order.
When asked what changes they'd like to see in the current book centric services available in this country, the founders of Worthy Books BD replied, “Everything is fine except the prices of original books in our country. Students don't get enough pocket money to buy original books for themselves. Maybe it's because of the currency exchange rates, but that's the only thing we see which needs to be changed. It should be easier for people to purchase books within their budget. And that's exactly what we are trying to do.”
All the team members at Worthy Books BD are passionate readers. They look for best sellers and books with good reviews – something that they themselves would love to read. They also print out books if the customer provides a soft copy. “We are getting lots of orders to produce local prints out of PDFs,” informed Nuzaimul. In order to print a book from PDF, the customer can simply give them the PDF or the e-book version of it and they will do the rest. So, if you want a book and can't find it anywhere, you can easily get the PDF or e-book version of it and just ask them to make it into a book for you.
Everything is fine except the prices of original books in our country. Students don't get enough pocket money to buy original books for themselves
Talking about the challenges in local printing, Nuzaimul said, “Getting complaints is inevitable, but the ratio is rather low. If our customers face any problem regarding the print, Worthy Books BD will gladly swap the problematic one with a fresh copy as soon as possible.” When asked about the legal aspect of publishing local print, Nuzaimul informed us that printing a foreign book locally is actually illegal. “Since there is no direct international distribution in our country at present, we do it for the sake of serving the readers,” he said.
The brother-sister duo is planning to launch their next venture, Worthy Publications, very soon in order to provide a platform for new writers. They are also developing an app for all mobile platforms where bookworms can easily purchase books in the best possible price and also create TBR lists which will remind them of what's coming up.
There are many factors to consider when discussing the matter of e-books versus printed books, but ultimately, it all comes down to the reader’s preference. Fans of printed books claim that there’s still nothing like the smell of paper and the rustle of the pages, while those who prefer the e-book often say that the device takes a whole lot of weight from their shoulders
When asked how they feel about the way technology such as e-books is affecting book readership, Nuzaimul said, “Most of our customers prefer hard copies over the e-book.” The founders believe that although e-books are a good thing, they still think that when it comes to reading, printed books are a better choice. There’s something rustic about the entire experience, they claim, and it’s one that cannot be derived from the cold, electronic e-book version.