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Lola Jutta
31 May 2017 . 6 min read

This Young Entrepreneur Opens A Book Club For Everyone


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“Frankly speaking, entrepreneurship is an attitude that I’ve cultivated carefully. Being born in a family of entrepreneurs, I watched my father closely and how he managed his business.”

This is what Priyanshi Patel, founder of Ahmedabad Book Club has to say when asked about her lineage. Coming from a reputed Gujarati business family didn’t mean setting up the book club was a cakewalk. A young and dynamic entrepreneur, Priyanshi  has inculcated the values of a sustainable business model with her venture. Gujarat’s largest community dedicated to literature with over 17000 online members. This is her #MakingItWork story.

“I was always encouraged to be independent minded, but never foolhardy. My ideas and business models were critically evaluated, before I took the plunge into entrepreneurship.

Nevertheless, I feel the dynamics of entrepreneurship have changed radically over the last decade. In these times, it is more important for the business to be innovative and socially relevant, while as an entrepreneur it is essential that you are a good communicator and a people manager.   

I have been an avid reader since my teens. Books were my way of getting introduced to the world; knowing its people, its stories, its culture.

In the US, as a student we had access to extensive libraries and those were places that fostered intense discussions and brought together students with varied interests. But it’s only upon returning to Ahmedabad after completing my education in the US, I realised that while the city had a few well-stocked libraries, they were not popular places for book lovers to meet. I also tried getting connected to a book club in the city and couldn't find one.

Which is when I decided to start one of my own, hoping to bring together many more like me in the city.

This is how Ahmedabad Book Club was born, and I was surprised by the response I received. Today Ahmedabad Book Club is a thriving community of more than 15,000 members who celebrate books and reading.

A book club for everyone

In the initial phase we faced many challenges. While people were open to the idea, many thought we were a high-brow community. We worked hard to dispel this notion by making it inclusive in terms of both membership and our activities.

Apart from books and literature, we expanded our ambit to new media like blogging, and even Facebook  and  Twitter  as expressions of literature.

The biggest challenge was to get connected to authors and publishers and convincing them to come to our club. Our inclusiveness and our member strength turned it around.

Now that the community has grown, we are the obvious choice for every author/ publisher when they need to connect with a book club in Gujarat.    

The Ahmedabad Book Club was promoted mostly through personal contacts, word of mouth and social media. We were also written about and our activities got covered regularly which also played a big role in creating awareness on the book club amongst book loves of the city.

Apart from that, we conducted regular book reading sessions, book launches, literary debates and discussions sessions that did not intimidate non-readers or people who do not read regularly, which helped us reach out to more people who love books but can't spare time to read a book for a gathering every month.

We also brought in popular authors like Ravinder Singh, Durjoy Dutta, Sudeep Nagarkar, Nikita Singh, Preeti Shenoy to interact with our members. Ahmedabad Book Club has also become a sought after platform for sharing and donating books.

Major turning point in the book club's span which spiked its growth curve

It was when we decided to have the post of rotating President every year to run the book club which ensured that the community gets a fresh burst of enthusiasm and creativity. This move greatly increased our membership base and our activities became more interesting instead of following the regular format.

Another major point was participating in Ahmedabad National Book Fair, and managing its Author’s Corner. This made us extend our reach to more and more people and look beyond being merely a reading community.

Scaling up engagement is the way forward

We plan to participate in more and more Literature Festivals and Book Fairs to reach out to people. The Ahmedabad Book Club will reach out to schools to promote and inculcate the reading habit early amongst children.

Be rigid about your goal but flexible about your methods

The inspiration comes from my father who also worked in the family business and then decided to start his own venture. So far in a year and half of entrepreneurship, I have learnt much more than four years in the family business.

As an entrepreneur, I believe unless you haven’t matured as a leader, you cannot nurture a feasible entrepreneurial venture. I feel hard work, consistency and single-minded focus are crucial to being an entrepreneur. But conversely, entrepreneurship has also made me more receptive to change, and thereby building on my skillsets to adapt to change.

My favourite reads

The Bhagavad Gita, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger and Poetry by Emily Dickinson are some of my favourites. I reserve my weekends for reading, especially sunday afternoons.

On weekdays I usually read for about an hour before going to bed. I think when you love reading, it becomes compulsive and you never have a dearth of time to do something you love.

Reading makes us curious and imaginative. It makes us crave for more knowledge, more perspectives, more emotions. It makes us more human.

Reading can transport you to a completely different world, breaking barriers of time and place. It helps us to gain from the very best of what is thought, said and done in the world.

 

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Lola Jutta
An unapologetic writer, budding travel enthusiast and a default optimist! Life is what you make out of it.

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Responses

  • N*****
    Can we too associate with this??
  • N*****
    Wowww! This is amazing! ☺👍 And Who else understand it better than a bookworm herself!! Wish she works our something like this in Delhi too!!☺
  • P*****
    Can we join the library and read online
  • S*****
    How can we read your books online
  • S*****
    Great you are
  • V*****
    What a collection!I will visit your Club.
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