May Issue 2010
The enterprising duo that established Pakistan’s first online book rental service, The Readers Club, have now launched an online marketplace for books, Kitabain.com. Jawad Yousuf and Usman Siddiqui’s latest venture is driven by the same philosophy as their previous one: to make available books to those who do not have easy access to them at affordable prices.
In fact, the non-availability of particular school textbooks spurred them into action, they told audiences at the site’s launch at The Second Floor on April 5. Still in its formative phase, the book-sharing platform allows sellers to put up books from their personal collections, whether new or second-hand, and set a price themselves. In addition to individuals, independent booksellers/publishers can make their inventory available to a much wider audience. With multiple copies of a book available, the buyer is free to choose which seller to purchase from, based on the condition and cost of the book. And to make the system more user-friendly, an automated system has been put in place so that a simple ISBN or book title search is all that is needed to upload the relevant information.
Aware of people’s reluctance to share personal contact details with strangers, Jawad and Usman have decided to act as facilitators for the exchange of money and dispatch of books from sellers to buyers, using their existing sales network. While the logistics are still being fine-tuned, such as how to set the minimum price of a book, service charges etc, the uploading of books has begun, and the idea is to make this service available countrywide rather than restricting it just to Karachi.
Farieha Aziz is a Karachi-based journalist and teacher. She joined Newsline in 2007, rising to assistant editor. Farieha was awarded the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008. She is a co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi, an advocacy forum of Digital Rights.