Month: July 2001

Paperback Dreams

Paperback Dreams

In 1998, a Mumbai based journalist suddenly suffered a thought transformation. The result was that at the peak of his reporting career, he gave it up for something quite unconventional. B Mahesh, a full time journalist, left his secure job and founded a bookstore.

After two years of taking that bold step, Mahesh has absolutely no regrets. He is pleased with his decision of abandoning journalism altogether. For 12 long years, he had applied himself diligently to his work. He started with Free Press Journal, which is where he acquired most of his reporting skills. Then, he joined The Times of India where he covered civic matters. Later, he was promoted to political reporting. In 1993 he moved to Business Standard where he remained till he quit the profession.

What made him take such a plunge? "I had reached a Plateau when it came to job satisfaction", says Mahesh. Money was never a decisive factor in his career decision. Which is why he never contemplated moving to television, as he considers this form of news media rather superficial.

When the time came to act, nothing would stop him. He had made up his mind to become an entrepreneur. His solid determination and a passion for books made him set up Paperback – a small, but classy bookstore in Thane city.

It was a risky step, as he had never had experience in managing any kind of business. To top that, he didn’t even have sufficient funds for seed capital. But his friends and loved ones lent him full support – not only financially but also morally. And that made a big difference, as anyone who’s ever been in his position will know.

Mahesh’s efforts have been greatly rewarded. Paperback is today quite a well-known bookstore among book lovers of the central suburbs. Although a large part of the clientele belongs to Thane, Paperback has several patrons from adjoining suburbs like Mulund, Bhandup, Kanjurmarg and Vikhroli on the Mumbai side and Kalyan and Dombivli on the other.

All this is in spite of the fact that the shop is located away from the marketplace. For Mahesh, the choice of location was a conscious decision. He wanted only genuine booklovers to visit his store, as he firmly believes that such people would go to any corner if there were a good bookshop.

Paperback is a great store for a true lover of books. The collection is superb, and the aura, perfect. Customers appreciate the quite and serene mood that surrounds the bookstore. What is even more appealing to them is that the store remains open from 10:30 am to 10:30 pm. This thoughtful timing takes care of working individuals, who can visit the store even after a hard day’s work, even if they reside faraway. Paperback provides them a relaxed browsing experience, even if they may not buy. Paperback even offers free delivery of books throughout Mumbai. All orders are delivered within 24 hours to 72 hours.

Once in a while, Mahesh organizes a celebrity author to visit his store. He does so because he does not want to deprive his valued customers an opportunity to interact with their favourite authors simply because of the location. The list of celebrity authors who have visited Paperback includes Tara Deshpande, Shoba De, master chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah and more recently, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat.

Even as celebrities’ book-signing and other events are undertaken, Paperback holds free story-telling session for children every Sunday morning – a move that has been greatly appreciated by parents as it keeps the children away from the idiot-box and also inculcates the reading habit in them. Renowned painter and writer Mr Badri Narayan inaugurated the story-telling session on November 14, 1999.

So what’s next on the agenda? A chain of Paperbacks? Perhaps. But he has other callings. Such as becoming an international umpire, undergoing training for cinematography and film direction at FTII and taking at least a year off to an undisclosed location, away from everything and everybody. In his own words, "One should live, not merely exist. And that’s why I dream, because I know dreams have a wonderful way of becoming real."