Online bookstores are offering discounts, cashback and discounted delivery in February with the view to exploiting the book-buying frenzy during the month centring on the Ekushey Book Fair.
Typically, the month-long fair, which opens its gates on February 1, accounts for more than half of the books sold in a year.
Rokomari.com, the country's largest online platform for selling books, is offering a flat 25 percent discount in February and customers also can enjoy an additional 10 percent cashback if the payment is made through bKash.
The platform, which typically delivers 1,000-2,000 books a day, sees its orders to shoot up to 5,000-6,000 a day in February, said Mahmudul Hasan Sohag, chairman of Onnorokom Group, the parent company of Rokomari, which has more than two lakh titles in stock.
In a similar vein, newly-launched prothoma.com, a concern of the Bangla daily Prothom Alo, is extending 25 percent discount and discounted delivery charge for the month of February. For purchases of Tk 1,500 or more the delivery would be free of cost.
“People still want to read books in paper format even in this digital era,” Rakib Bayany, an assistant manager of Prothom Alo Digital, which is responsible for prothoma.com.
At the same time, they do not want to sitting in long traffic to get to a brick-and-mortar bookstore. “So there are plenty of prospects for online marketplaces,” he added.
Besides, it is difficult to find different genres of books in one place except during the month-long Ekushey Book Fair organised by the Bangla Academy since 1978, said the chief of Rokomari, which has more than two lakh titles in stock.
Prothoma, which was launched on January 31, have so far listed about 500 books and within the next one week books of the biggest publishers in Dhaka and Kolkata will be posted, according to Bayany.
E-commerce giant Daraz is also selling books on its platform.
It is mostly selling literature and novels and most of its orders are generated from Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet, said said Shayantani Twisha, public relations and communication manager of Daraz, which also saw a spike in book sales in February. About 15 lakh books were sold by the e-stores last year, of which Rokomari accounted for 10 lakh, according to Sohag, a pioneer in online book selling.
At present, there are about 50 online bookstores, while some companies like Panjeree Publications are selling books through Facebook.
“We also have plans to publish books in the digital format, so that people can read them from their handheld devices,” Bayany said. But for that, the market needs to grow more, he added.