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Special: UAE parents prefer second-hand textbooks to save on costs

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on September 7, 2020 | Last updated on September 7, 2020 at 06.50 am
Coronavirus, Pre-owned textbooks, demand, schools, reopen, UAE

(Alamy Image)

As children return to school whether on-site or turning to virtual modes, books undeniably remain sacrosanct while talking about learning.

Lending, selling and buyback of schoolbooks are making a comeback this year as many residents are facing financial strains due to unprecedented circumstances.

As children return to school whether on-site or turning to virtual modes, books undeniably remain sacrosanct while talking about learning.

"Families affected by the economic strain are the biggest beneficiaries, says Montserrat Martin of BookHero, who has been at the forefront of a textbook swap initiative in the UAE. "We have families severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. The breadwinner of the house may have lost his job or is experiencing a pay cut and has three or four children. We must understand education is not a choice, it is a must," he said.

His venture, Book Hero, is providing a free platform for residents to exchange educational books at the Oasis Mall atrium until September 26. "The aim of the initiative is primarily to help families during these trying times. It enables us to extend the life of the book by rolling it further and also positively impacts the environment as it allows reinventing and is eco-friendly."

The initiative, launched in 2016, is gaining traction this year with around 30 to 40 customers visiting the mall's atrium on weekends. "I feel satisified when I see families benefiting from this programme. If people come with 10 books, they exchange those books for another 10 that their children need for the school year. If they can't come with any books to exchange, even that's not a problem they can buy books for as low as Dh10 or Dh20 that would otherwise cost Dh150 or Dh170. Those who have lost their jobs or are in difficult financial positions can avail of the books for free provided they can prove the genuineness of their claims.

Bargain-worthy book stores

Turning to second-hand books and hand-me-downs, many families are also steering towards special surprises and bargain-worthy books on open shelves. At Book World in Satwa and Archies Book shop in Karama, many may find some interesting handbooks, periodicals and magazines at reasonable prices. These shops house paperbacks and titles at incredibly low prices, for all ages groups.

"We have a collection of around 60,000 new and used books in Satwa at Book World and around 70,000 new and old books at the Archies Book Shop in Karama," said Bisham BK Sainani, investor of Book World.

"I have also been getting requests from people to house textbooks, as many have lost their jobs and have children still studying. They need cheaper and more affordable options for books. I would have happily undertaken these responsibilities for the larger good, but commercial properties have high rents and stacking textbooks properly will be a huge challenge due to lack of space.

"In our stores, there are a plethora of other books that can fit the bill for many schoolchildren," he added.

How parents anticipate spending on books

Pre-owned books are in demand as children are realising the need to adapt to their situations, say parents.

"My children are open to hand-me-downs and for new purchases, we would opt for more affordable shops. They don't mind taking schoolbooks that are in good condition from their seniors. We'll also buy other necessary books from more reasonable stores and not necessarily from the big branded ones, as long as the quality is not compromised," said Lionel Augustine, father of three children.

Another resident Ajay Singh added: "Text-swapping initiatives are amazing. We can share our used books with people who are looking for it. Earlier we had no clue where to give our books. Such community efforts benefit everyone economically, especially in Covid-19 times, where many are facing pay cuts. Pre-owned books or hand-me-downs are certainly a good option."

nandini@khaleejtimes.com 

 


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