I have been a loyal member of Eloor Library from the time it first presented itself on my horizon (almost 15 years ago). It’s been a long and fruitful partnership on both sides – I get to read a lot of wonderful books that are not always stocked in Indian libraries; the library makes a bucketful of cash because of the amount of late-charges that I end up paying. I am not really the fastest of readers, I like to take my time with a book and happily ignore the 2 week lending time on my books.
In my mind, so far there has been no equivalent/competing library in India. That is, until the arrival of the shiny, new kid on the block – Just Books. In Bangalore, this library has spread rapidly with a number of franchises throughout the city. And one opened up pretty close to my house early this year.
Still not good enough to attract my attention. I thought the prices were on the high side, and there did not seem to be enough variety of books to justify the pricing.
And then last week, something changed within me. All these years I have uncomplainingly driven the 10km stretch over crappy traffic-logged roads twice a month to Eloor Library. But last week, with my hubby grumbling loudly, and a record 2 hour commute to the library and back, I realized (or was made to realize by the hub) that this routine is just not working.
The very next day, he steered me over to Just Books in Indra Nagar and we went through the registration details with the librarian in charge. This time something inside me went hmmm…on first glance the rates do seem expensive, however there are a lot of services on offer. Here are some things that intrigued me:
- They have a variety of sign-up rates depending on your reading habits. I was pretty interested in the annual Rs.3000/- plan. It allows me to checkout upto 3 books and a magazine at any one time. There is no deposit system with this plan, which means there is nothing to lock me into the library after the year’s period is up.
- With this plan, there is no charge on individual book withdrawals (something that is a bit of a bane with Eloor Library). This means that I can opt for hardcover versions of books or the latest newly-published without having to pay any premiums. There are also no late charges. I can hold a book for as long as I want without any late penalties (yippee yay!)
- Just Books has a decent reading room as well as a good selection of children’s books (much better than Eloor).
- They also have a very strong online presence, allowing me to reserve books online, and getting them delivered to my house (unalloyed bliss!)
So, what has me hesitating? Why haven’t I made the shift yet? Why is the thought of walking up to the Eloor librarian and demanding my deposit back and closing the account making me feel strangely sick inside?
Stupidly sentimental me is finding it hard to let go of something that has been a part of my reading life for so long. In addition, I still feel that Eloor has the better selection of adult books; they do stock more serious literature, and have a wider variety of classics. Just Books seems to fill up their library with a number of copies of the latest bestsellers; but don’t seem to have some of the more obscure books. The librarian does promise that they procure books on demand, so I suppose the lack of readily available books should not be an issue.
However, the commute to Eloor was tolerable when my life was simpler (read as no baby, and no household chores). Now, it is becoming impossible for me.
So, what do you suggest? Have any of you patronized either of these libraries? What do you think? Specifically would like feedback from patrons of Just Books.
Adding a poll to encourage more responses