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A WhatsApp group that imports children's books

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

To keep her parent’s retired life busy, Deepthi Rohith gifted them a business venture involving two of their favourite things – kids and books. Owlets Reading Room delivers imported books from the UK to children between 0-10 years of age. Here’s how this Bangalore-based venture has created a difference in the lives of little learners…

A range of books offered at Owlets Reading Room.

When Deepthi Rohith was expecting her second child, she knew that as a new mother, she would keep busy. She also feared that her busy schedule would keep her away from visiting her retired parents often. Due to this, they would feel lonely. She was on a constant look out for business ideas to keep them occupied. But she realised that they weren’t as tech-savvy as her. So, starting a venture where they had to manage a website or a social media page was out of question.

Deepthi Rohith, the brainchild behind the venture.

It was then she came across a dealer who used to import books from the UK and the US. Without any hesitation, she called and negotiated a deal with him. This gave her the idea to start a venture as it involved two of her parent’s favourite things – books and kids. This led to the birth of Owlets Reading Room.

Started as a WhatsApp group, the platform provides upcycled books to children aged 0-10 years. Despite being upcycled, they are good in quality. Deepthi clarifies them as used and discarded books from the UK written by acclaimed foreign authors.

In fact, she insists that she and her parents follow a strict protocol in shortlisting the books before they reach end customers. “We have a team of people working with us. When we import books, this team physically visits the location and checks the condition of the books. If there is a tear or scribble in the book, we do not accept them. We ensure that only those books that are in excellent condition reach customers,” she says.

Since it is a WhatsApp group, books are sold in a transparent manner. The allocation of books is on a first come first serve basis. Every day at 4pm, Owlets Reading Room brings out a set of 15 books on its WhatsApp group. Deepthi's mother, Jayshree Murli, shares the details of the books, i.e., the author, genre, number of pages, price, synopsis, etc. with a few pictures.

Leading from the front: Deepthi's parents S Murli (left) and Jayashree Murli who are also managing Owlets Reading Room.

Deepthi describes that the allocation works like a bidding process. “Since the number of books are limited, the first parent to send the message on the WhatsApp group showing interest in a book gets it. Sometimes people choose age over content and some parents who like to introduce a slightly more advanced level of reading choose the one that has an advanced vocabulary,” she clarifies.

As soon as a parent adds books in his/her cart, he/she receives a bill. It includes details, such as the title of the books, date of delivery and the total amount along with shipping rates. Once the money is paid, the books are delivered to them. A parent can add maximum of five books to his/her cart. The shipment leaves every Monday morning so the entire week is given to parents to choose books.

When asked why she calls her venture a reading room, Deepthi reveals that she was not keen to keep a name related to books and knowledge but something that sound cool.

“When I was hunting for a name, I was sure that we cannot call it a library, considering we are selling books and not renting them out. I recalled owls are called wise birds. Since we also give knowledge to little ones through these books, I decided to call it ‘Owlets Reading Room’. As our venture is aimed at all owlets to gather up and expand their knowledge through reading, we thought that this name would suffice,” she shares.

A sample activity book for blooming buds.

Owlets Reading Room offers a variety of books, such as single-story books, encyclopaedia, collection of stories, fact, activity and subject-related books, as well as those on mythology, superheroes and quiz. For infants, it provides bath books and thick board books with colourful pictures.

Explaining the choice of books, Deepthi says, “Children who are 2-3 months old are in an age where they are trying to explore their surroundings. We offer bath books, some of which also produce colours in water. We also realise that infants are in the habit of chewing everything that they can get their hands on. That’s why we provide thick board books as they cannot be torn easily.”

Besides this, textured books are also available for infants. "These books come with different textures, such as mirrors, grass, straw, hard and soft touch, etc. They allow a child to touch and experience different textures," she explains.

For toddlers, single or multiple short stories are available along with interactive books with flaps and other such elements. Despite such a variety in offing, all books are priced nominally. Deepthi clarifies that the idea of the venture is to allow children to get exposed to books that she missed reading as a child.

“Being a parent, I want every child to have access to those books that have quality content, great pictures and that can improve their vocabulary and knowledge while reading. It is the love for reading that we want children to take home at the end of the day,” she clarifies.

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