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Archive for the ‘Foraging for books’ Category

It’s here–the day has come. I have finally joined the ranks of those who order books online. Thus far, strident opposition to netbanking and credit cards rendered me incapable of using online booksellers’ websites for anything other than browsing and reading customer reviews. Then, everything changed, a couple of months ago; I got a netbanking pin, discovered the joys of forgetting one’s netbanking password, and trying every possibility until it turns out one will just have to change it at the ATM, used Firefox to gloat over the balance in my savings account, and, eventually, decided I was going to experiment with ordering books online. Or rather, with ordering one, and only one, book online. I’m much too devoted to Blossom, Bangalore’s (and maybe even India’s) best book shop and second-hand book-buying in general to actually buy new books — in the plural — and that too, online!

So I ordered a copy of The History Boys, the play by Alan Bennett, from Flipkart, which is an India-based (in fact, as I understand, a Bangalore-based) online bookstore that people seem to be swearing by. I am most impressed. The ordering process was easy and secure, I got a confirmation email immediately and a promise that the book would be delivered within 2-3 weeks, even though it wasn’t in stock; free shipping and a 20% discount on the marked price. And, exactly two weeks later, another email confirming that the book had been despatched from Delhi, with details of the courier shipment. It got to me today, making it a total of 11 working days for delivery: nicely packed, in a cardboard box with backing for the paperback book, and a discount voucher entitling me to 20% off on an unlimited number of books on Flipkart, provided they’re ordered within the next week.

So, very nice, I say. Especially for books that are seriously hard to find. Otherwise, I am sticking to the joys of browsing and finding random books at Blossom–I would never have found the hilarious current read, The Miracle Game by Josef Skvorecky, on the Flipkart website–but that is another blog post. For now, yes, Flipkart is all everyone is saying it is, but no, I am not converting to online buying. Not even if online bookshops develop the technology to smell like piles of real-life books.

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My first Bookmooch!

I’ve been stupidly busy working on an over-long assignment and haven’t been reading. But today, I was delighted to receive what is a great incentive to finish this work as fast as possible–my first Bookmooch parcel! Bookmooch is a service that lets users list books they want to get rid of and request books from among those other users want to pass on. The site works on a points system–you gain points for listing books and sending books and have to give up some points when you ask for somebody else’s books. Really simple, very useful idea–and I must say I love the quirky little “reading people” in the illustration on the homepage (as above). I listed a couple of books as an experiment and almost immediately received a request for one of them (R. K. Narayan’s Swami and Friends), which I agreed to send out (getting Bookmooch points in the process). Browsing led me to a book I wanted from a user who was willing to post books to India–and, because I’d agreed to send a book out already, I had enough Bookmooch points to ask her to send across The Ampersand Papers, by Michael Innes, a Golden Age detective novelist I’m quite fond of.

Unfortunately, this sort of exchange doesn’t really work out as sustainable in the long term for me, primarily because used books here in Bangalore are so very cheap and postage isn’t. I spent Rs. 180 to send my parcel out — that’s nearly double the cost of any one of the Michael Innes novels I’ve picked up at Blossom Book House on Church Street. I think I’ll save Bookmooch for stuff that’s really hard to get hold of–and no, I don’t think this foray was wasted, because somebody in the UK will get a book they want and I got one I’ve never come across before. Whee!

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