Aiming to fight the rising prices of textbooks and novels, a group of five young people decided to launch their initiative “Bookabikia” in hopes of encouraging readers to donate books or exchange them with others.
“Bookabikia” is a book-swapping bookstore, but in a very modern way.
“The whole thing started when I realised that I have a huge number of books in my home library that exceed 22,000 LE,” said Amro El Debayky, the marketing manager of Bookabikia.
“I realised that every house may have a fortune that is not exploited by any means. Thus, I started thinking of the possibility of gathering all these books in one place so that other people can make use of them,” he added.
The bookstore was established on 10 February with a small headquarters in Abbas Al Akkad, Nasr City, which is one of the most crowded upper middle class neighborhoods in Cairo. Yet, the project covers Cairo and Giza and will be expanded to cover other governorates after Eid El-Fetr feast.
In his opinion, the process can be identified as more of an investment than a donation. “We found out that the idea of donating and exchanging books have been made many times before inside and outside Egypt; therefore, we decided to provide a different service,” he explained.
People are asked to log onto our website, create an account, and identify the books they need to exchange. A representative from the bookstore can take the books from the client at home.
“When we receive the book, we evaluate it according to a number of criteria including its availability in the market, the number of its pages, the quality of the edition, and others. We give the client some points that enable him or her to take other books from our store,” he noted.
In this case, people are not required to exchange their book for a certain book or meet anonymous people to take books from them. “This process is more convenient and safe, especially for female readers who don’t like to share their personal data with people they meet on social media. We guarantee the confidentiality of the clients’ contacts and information and the convenience of the books delivery,” he added.
The project started without any publicity or advertisements. However, the team intends to launch a big advertising campaign after Ramadan to increase this number. “We currently have about 330 clients, who make about 50 actions every month. However, we intend to increase that number after Ramadan as we will ask people to donate their school and university textbooks instead of getting rid of them. This will help many families cut down on educational expenses.
In April 2017, Bookabikia participated in the startup conference of 2017 in Dubai, where the founders were offered a chance to sell the copyrights of their project to some Gulf investors. However, they rejected the offer because they wanted more people in Egypt to make use of the idea first.
From his point of view, El Debayky doesn’t only believe that this project would only encourage more people to read; however, he thinks that such a project would also help solve a big problem of wasted books if it is generalised to many places all over Egypt.
“On the long term, our idea can save the amount of paper that we use for printing literary works and textbooks in Egypt, because we export them from foreign countries, which causes many problems related to hard currency and shipping difficulties. Although we expect to find more competitors in the near future, we have some good plans to improve our idea,” he concluded.