The Readers Club – serving a real need?

June 8, 2009 at 2:43 pm 5 comments

readers clubUsman A.Siddiqui dropped in to see me some time ago to talk about a project he was working on in the education space. He is still working on that but in the meantime he has launched what is an online library – “The Readers Club”.

Before he launched the site, he sent me a link to ask what I thought about it. I was happy to see that someone his age was concerned about the dearth of libraries in this country and the cost of books in general which made reading an expensive proposition. Of course there are bookshops selling old books but those don’t always have a varied collection.

The Readers Club remedies the high cost of purchasing books with a Book Rental Service that allows unlimited rentals on a monthly subscription plan. Purchasing even one new release a month can cost more than most of the rental plans they have on offer.

Though, The Readers Club plan-sizes are based on how many books a subscriber may hold at any given time, ALL of the plans offer unlimited books each month. You can read as many books as time allows, during any given month. The idea was for it to function like a Netflix style service for books.

When I asked Usman if he thought this was a sustainable business model, he responded that the idea  was born simply out of his love for books and did not start of, like most businesses, with just pure commercial interest in mind. Of course he wants it to be profitable and self sustaining so that he can keep expanding. But the foremost goal is to get people in the habit of reading by giving them easy and cheap access to quality and relevant books. He says they don’t want to make a quick buck.

Usman himself is an avid reader, he says and so are some of his closest friends. Reading and discussing books  on varied topics is passion for them. They have often been frustrated by the lack of access to good public libraries and no big collection to choose from. He says they are fortunate to be able to just walk into Liberty or Paramount or OUP and pick up any book they like. But unfortunately not everyone can buy books costing hundreds or thousands of rupees. The purpose of The Readers Club is to remedy that situation.

Usman also emphasises that that they are paying very close attention to the collection they make available. They are not just offering old second hand books that you can buy at any used book shop. They are making available the latest Bestsellers.

The technology driving the service is also pretty involved, says Usman. Users signup, browse our collection, and select books which they like. These books are added to a queue and are automatically delivered based on the priority chosen, availabilty and plans etc. Significant resources have also gone into developing and refining these details.

Usman and his mates believe they are offering a service which addresses a real need. And if it doesn’t work out what the hell? He says he will end up with a few thousand quality books to read!:-)  I hope to have Usman as a guest on ITLoW next month once he has gone through the beta launch and got some initial input from local customers.

Meantime go visit the site, become a member, borrow some books and tell us what the experience was like. I am very possessive with my books but I don’t really want to keep most of the best sellers and novels that I read so perhaps The Readers Club can solve the problem I face with the lack of space on my bookshelf. And I won’t have to buy the novels in future. I can just get them from The Readers Club and return them. So Usman I wish you luck with this venture and i hope to see those other projects materializing soon.

If you are interested in finding out about the activities of The Readers Club and get information on the new books that they are adding on, visit their Facebook page.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • The Readers Club – serving a real need?…

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  • 2. Ahmed  |  June 8, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    This is a good idea, I would give it a try soon.

    500/- per month is about cost of a Pizza.

    Reply
  • 3. Obaid Ahmed  |  June 8, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    While it is a noble and good idea and I really do appriciate this step, but I think they should seriously considering and promoting Urdu literature as well. Considering majority of our population still reads in Urdu and the rest of the minority needs to learn Urdu .. it might not be a bad idea..

    PS: If they get Ishtiaq Ahmad’s novels (especially Inspector Jamshed series) .. i would get a membership in a jiffy!!!!

    Reply
  • 4. Usman Siddiqui  |  June 10, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Jehan,

    Thank you so much for such a detailed write up and your words of encouragement! Much Appreciated!
    We are striving really hard to cater to the diverse interests of our readers and provide them with a convenient and user friendly service. In that regard, any suggestions or requests are very welcome and truly appreciated!

    Obaid. Thank you for your suggestion!.An Urdu section is in the works! We are in the process of gathering books on a wide range of topics. Will keep you posted!

    Reply
  • 5. offshorewebdesigner  |  June 10, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Your idea is a great one and more than that your cause is noble … Wish you best of luck with it … and waiting till u expand it to include Islamabad as well.

    Reply

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