A book for a rupee: The dream was once a reality

When time changes, things change. Sometimes they change for the better. The rise of the internet and the ubiquity of computers is one of those changes. Our lives have become immeasurably comfortable by their arrival.

However, sometimes change can make certain things difficult than they were before. One of these changes has drastically changed a key part of people’s lives in the past few years.

We are talking about the near exodus of book rental shops and public libraries from our country, especially urban India. Before we delve into why the rental shops disappeared, let's understand why they were unbelievably convenient in the first place.

The days of book rentals

How did book rentals work and why were they so successful?

The system was pretty simple. Book rental shops gave away books, usually for a day. They usually charged a flat fee. A rupee at most shops, two at others. The point was, nobody had to pay a ridiculous amount of money to buy a book. You could rent a book and see if it was good or not. If the latter was the case, just return the book. Not much money lost.

The system was designed keeping the convenience of readers in mind. This way, many young children and adults got the chance to read some of the greatest works ever written by renowned authors. Even if you lived in a small town in UP, you could still see the world through a whole new perspective by reading a book by Charles Dickens or Joseph Conrad. In a way, one could connect with the world outside in a much more meaningful way.

By the time most children finished their education, they had read a ton of books each with a redeeming value of its own.

George RR Martin once wrote that a person who doesn't read lives one life. A person who reads lives a thousand. If that is truly the case, children who read all those books from the rental shop laid a great foundation to their adult lives.

The scene today

So what is happening now?

Well, sad as it is, the book rental system is now gone. There are no more corner shops which give out books for rent at dirt cheap prices. Instead, we now have swanky glass door bookshops selling books at premium prices. We also have high profile e-commerce websites selling books, again at premium prices.

In short, if someone wants to read a book, the premium price has to be paid. The price can vary, but on an average, at least one fifty rupees have to be spent to get a book.

One fifty. It was five to ten bucks in the good old days.

So what happened?

If everything became better with time and technology, what happened to literature? How did something so easy at the time become an expensive and elitist exercise?

The result we see now is painfully obvious. Book sales in India have dropped drastically. Most people who would otherwise be open to reading books stopped reading altogether because prices became too steep. For a hundred and fifty rupees, a young working Indian can buy a pizza and watch a movie at home. Who would care to spend it on a book?

Enter TaccoMacco: Reimagining the long gone book rental system

We are not pioneers of anything new. Instead, we are re-engineering the book rental system for the current millennial generation. TaccoMacco is bringing back some of the best parts of the book rental system. Some of these parts are:

1. Timeshare Reading - Just like the book rental system of the past, TaccoMacco is renting some of the best stories in the history of English and Hindi literature to readers, not to mention an array of stories written by young and upcoming writers in India.

2. Incredible pricing - We want to make sure everyone is able to get access to quality literature, irrespective of the spending power.

3. Reading experience - Rental bookshops were not all about being cheap and accessible. Friends used to gather there, peer over book covers and fight over who gets to take a given book. It was a place where buddies discussed stories and heroes. TaccoMacco strives to bring the same experience to readers again, this time on through a slick mobile app.