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23.02.2018

Despite chaotic road work, an unpoliced traffic junction and the urgency with which most people barrel past in their quest to score the day’s freshest rasagullas at K.C. Das, it is impossible to miss Goobe’s Book Republic on Bangalore’s Church Street. They’re the proprietors of the #savage chalk board on the pavement with its daily snide message pointing you to the basement. In this underworld dwells a floating population of books bought, sold and rented as customers please. Many a reader’s eye has popped, round and staring, quite like the eponymous owl that is Goobe’s brand ambassador.

To swell their growing tribe of Goobes (pronounced goo-bay) around the city and the country, Goobe’s is about to offer their newest service: a subscription box. Sign up, fill out a form, and you’ll receive a book every month based on your preferences. (Goobe’s will deliver to anywhere in India.) “This is an extension of what we’ve been doing in the store for the last eight years,” explains Ravi Menezes, owner and chief bibliophile. “In Bangalore people can’t always come to the store. This way they get their reading delivered to them without travelling the distance.” Subscription plans start at an easy-breezy book a month and go on to three-month plans for multiple books at a time.

He hastens to reassure the picky and faint of heart that he’s not looking to offload all those unread copies of The Secret. In fact, they won’t even be picking something off the New York Times bestseller list to get you an easy win. “It won’t be a mindless package. Each book in the box sent out will be thoughtfully curated and that’s a Goobe’s specialty.” The web sign-up form has the option to link Goobe’s with your GoodReads account, and the form will ask you to select your favourite genres and send them a list of authors and books you love, which helps them build a profile of your preferences. Ravi also promises bonus goodies in each box, such as diaries, or bookmarks.

The whole thing will be, as they say, a throwback to when you discovered your favourite authors by chance. We ask Ravi if this will change the pattern of buying at the physical store itself. He’s not worried. “A service like this hopefully will extend our reach and add to our bottom line, but the library and store is a part of a community,” he says. “People will always want to come in to sniff the books. That is the experience of visiting a bookshop.” The scent of Ravi’s own Gold Filter beedis? Part of the charm.

PS. If you find yourself around Church Street, don’t forget to drop in and nerd out over Goobe’s monthly talks, hosted by a group of young scientists and IISc students to bridge the distance between science and the general population; or keep an eye out for Café Oikos, their gathering of Bangalore ecologists who talk about their field work. It’s a real hoot.

Getting there: Sign up for the subscription box here; basic subscription for Rs 690/- a month. Goobe’s will deliver to anywhere in India.

This article was contributed by Anjana Appanna.

Photo credit: Alexey Kondakov

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