Originally published in Unique Pakistan
Very rarely would you hear of libraries being opened up in our country. However, a lack of public reading spaces doesn’t necessarily signify a lack of reading culture. This can be proved by the success of an innovative business venture called The Readers Club, launched in 2009 by the enterprising duo- Usman Siddiqui and Jawad Yousuf. The Readers Club is a vast online library consisting of thousands of books that can be borrowed once you subscribe to the website. It is Pakistan’s first book rental service.
I stumbled upon their website two years ago. Excited by the vast variety of books available for a small monthly membership fee; I instantly became a member and filled up my bucket list. I had the books delivered to my house the very next day. With excellent customer service, efficient delivery and good quality books, I was won over. A year later The reader’s club sister website Kitabain.com (Kitabain is urdu for books) was launched. This is a platform where you can buy and sell books online. Perfect for those looking for books at a lower price delivered to their house and those wanting to get rid of stacks of books consuming space in the house. Kitabain.com also received the Service Innovation award at the P@SHA awards, Lahore in October, 2010.
An effort such as this one must be applauded as it not only promotes reading but makes books much more accessible and affordable for a majority of people. Last year in December, at the annual Karachi international book fair at Expo Centre I was delighted to find a stall by The Reader’s Club offering numerous books at quarter the original prices. It was probably one of the best stalls at the fair, offering the most affordable books.
Their next project includes digitizing Urdu books into an audio format. In our country where the older generation shake their heads in disapproval of the young and their supposedly non-existent reading habit; an online library is a sign that there are still ambitious people who cater to readers in Pakistan and a significant number of people who consume such services.
Here is a video about them!