I love the concept and idea of physical bookstores as I firmly believe that nothing can ever replace them, no matter what. There may be electronic options or online options, but nothing can match the experience of visiting a store and spending time there.
And that probably is why I come across such beautiful ones in different parts of the world. I think the Universe ordains it. I Like visiting bookstores and I live doing bookstore reviews.
Recently I discovered one such store which makes the idea of selling books so appealing that one would be tempted to have a store of their own.
The book store that I am writing about is Kunzum which, as I write, is located in 5 different parts of the NCR. The one I visited is in Vasant Vihar. The brainchild of Ajay Jain; an author, photographer and traveller; this store is a must-visit.
The name Kunzum comes from the Kunzum La pass in the Spiti valley, where the founder Ajay Jain found his calling.
So like I said that I love bookstores and never miss an opportunity to visit one. But I must say that there are bookstores, and there are bookstores that take your breath away. Kunzum is one such store. You walk in, and you are left wonderstruck. The ambience and the energy are so positive, joyful and uplifting that you are totally mesmerized.
This is what happened to me when I visited it the other day.
Kunzum is a travel café turned bookstore with a unique tagline- ‘It’s the way you think’.
The tagline, I think, signifies their vision of what a bookstore should be. They are there to build a community of readers, authors, designers, editors and publishers. And everything that they do there is a testimony to this.
As I walked in, I was greeted by the incredibly courteous and welcoming staff, who were happy to show me around. They could point out the various genres of books, authors and collections. Not only that, they told me a lot about the store, its founder and its background. I think a helpful and well-informed staff is a make or break for a bookstore, and the staff at Kunzum is doing their bit to make the store.
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The entire store has a bright, cheerful and happy feel to it. The carefully curated collection has been laid out beautifully, with enough space between shelves for people to walk around. The various genres, ranging from romance to crime to historical fiction to politics, are easy to locate, thanks to the labels.
But what takes the cake is their children’s section. Not only do they have a wide range of books for children, but it is the way they have laid out the books. The shelves are colourful, vibrant and oh so inviting. Any child would want to browse around and grab a book.
So they sell books, but they do much more than that. And that is what makes them unique and so different from the other stores.
This set of bookstores came into existence after the pandemic. They had a travel café earlier that was hit by the pandemic like so many other businesses, but they managed to ride the storm and like how. The travel café became a bookstore, and then they set up four more. That is some achievement!
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In my visits to bookstores after the pandemic, where I have interacted with the owners, I noticed one thing. Most of them feel sorry for themselves, which is fine, but one has to learn to deal with the situation. You need courage, patience and some creative thinking, which is where Kunzum could be hugely inspiring.
Their bookstores are not just bookstores; they are much more. They have made their stores a beehive of so many activities that people flock in for one reason or another.
The sheer diversity and magnitude of what they are doing are mindboggling.
Let’s see how.
They allow you to read a book you bought from them with a cup of coffee. But they haven’t tied up with a coffee chain for that. Instead, they serve freshly brewed French press coffee prepared by their staff with a brownie, which is delicious. The coffee station is a cute little place to prepare coffee and tea.
Then you not only get to read, but if you want, you can sit and doodle on one of the tables which are equipped for this. The tables are nice and big where you could even sit and spend time with a friend or with your own self.
Like other stores, they also host events you could attend and participate in, but their list of events is fantastic. They host a wide variety from book launches to book discussions, author interactions, poetry slams, and music gigs.
Then from time to time, they organize different kinds of workshops on writing, blogging, photography, art and more.
What I like about them is their attention and focus on kids. They want kids to get hooked on reading which is evident from their children’s section and the care that has gone into putting it together. Not only that, but they also do storytelling sessions for kids, which is a great way to engage them and get them interested in reading. As they say, catch them young, which is what Kunzum is doing.
And then their book clubs; they have so many of them. They have book clubs for adults, children, and the LGBTQ and a CEOs bookclub.
I don’t think there is anything that they haven’t thought of. If you want to read pre-loved books, you can borrow them from the store.
Sometimes you would like to gift a book, but you are unsure about a person’s choice. You could buy gift vouchers from Kunzum, and you are sorted.
And, of course, you can order online as well.
It is as though they have left no stone unturned to make people fall in love with books and bookstores,
And if you want to sit at home and learn about them, check out their website, which is incredibly attractive and engaging.
Though their response to queries and requests needs to be paid attention to, I tried joining a book club using the Whats app number on the website but got no response. My attempt to subscribe to their mailing list was also unsuccessful though I later discovered that I am a part of it.
I guess with time; they will be able to sort these issues out.
Overall the bookstore is a booklover’s paradise, a pure delight, not something you should miss. Kunzum clearly tells you what makes a good bookshop.
What do you think?