This won’t go down well with the digital fundamentalists who believe print belongs to a different era, but book-swap parties, where eager readers get together with other readers to swap books, is a growing trend in India.
And it makes perfect sense.
In a country of over a billion people the chances of you sitting down on the train next to a fellow reader who shares your passion about a particular genre, and just happens to have a copy of their favourite book with them, is pretty slim.
Taking a leaf from the proverbial book of similar ventures in the US and elsewhere, Mumbai is now hosting speed-dating for books, where participants bring along their book and get two minutes to pitch its charms at their opposite number.
Priyesh Thakkar, the brains behind the Mumbai incarnation, explained,
Strangers meet and exchange books over coffee; I can’t think of anything more pleasant than that … It is a novel way to get people to chill out at a cafe on Sunday mornings, which are more relaxed. We started with around 10 people and have connected with close to 300 people in eight parties so far.
Authors and publishers can take some consolation from the fact that, while not contributing to their bottom line, the parties will be discoverability aids, and an enthusiastic pitch may even tempt a reluctant reader to try out a book in a genre they’d previously shied away from.
Word of mouth is, after all, the best form of promotion.