Bookworms unite!

Posted: Thu Dec 23 2010, 23:43 hrs

Connecting and networking has become an important aspect of everybody’s life. The world has become a global village, that connects people in all areas right from business and education to socialising and entertainment. A major part of entertainment is books. Bearing this in mind, the website www.bookchums.com , an initiative of city-based Engage Infomedia, was started in 2009 to connect avid readers across the country and abroad.

The website is managed by a group of 8-10 members. It is the brainchild of its CEO Sanjay Puri, who is chairman of the US-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC). The highlight of ‘BookChums’ is that it not only connects readers by creating a virtual bookshelf with its variety of e-books, but it also provides book reviews, author profiles and the chance for readers to create book clubs and swap books amongst themselves. One can also share blogs and create forums on books through the website.

Around five to 10 years back, book readings, events and fests had a very niche audience. They were still very western concepts. Alpana Mallick, a content writer of the site, says, “There were few well-known Indian authors, and majority of them wrote for the western audience. But now things are changing. We have so many young authors who are exploring different genres, writing for the home masses and not just to impress foreign readers. Even publishing houses are coming up with more contemporary books to tap into the ever growing Indian readership.” Another team member Pulak Barua adds, “But despite this, very few Indian authors are seen on western websites, thus BookChums wants to provide a platform for Indian authors and we are also planning to include regional language books, starting with Marathi.”

This young team includes content writers and developers who help out with technicalities. Mallick adds, “We want to play a role in helping book lovers connect with each other easily. Nowadays, everyone is connected through the internet, and more and more people are getting tech-savvy. People are even using their phones to stay connected. Combine that with a growing interest in Indian books and authors, and one will see the need for a site like BookChums.”

Setting up the website was also a challenge for the team members. They had limited time and a budget to work with. “It was quite a task to get the development work done in such a short time. Plus the concept of the site was new so we were not sure how people would respond to it. But within two months of its launch, the response put our doubts and fears to rest. We are in a very nascent stage, but I am sure with the dedicated team, we can achieve our goals and soon be counted among the best sites for readers!” Barua smiles.

Being voracious readers themselves, the members work in an open environment. “Anyone can suggest ideas and plans. We are a small team here and are constantly connected with our seniors in other cities. Everyone is constantly updated on each activity and this helps bring the best to the table,” says Mallick.

BookChums also has a community on Facebook, wherein users can further connect with each other. Navneet Mehra, one of the regulars on BookChums, says, “Swapping books is one of their ideas that I really like as we can exchange books on different topics and read more.”

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