Bitan Chakraborty: Our decision to have our own eCommerce portal paid off

By 19 Oct 2020

Bitan Chakraborty of Hawakal explains to Dibyajyoti Sarma how the Kolkata-based publisher managed to beat the lockdown constraints by selling their books by themselves

Bitan Chakraborty of Hawakal

The current scenario
We don’t have a conventional office format at Hawakal. Apart from our residential houses in Kolkata, we own an apartment that we have designed as a studio. We work from here. It’s a fully equipped studio apartment. The nation-wide lockdown didn’t cripple our activities as we stationed ourselves in here.

We had a fun time as we were reading manuscripts, designing and typesetting books, writing promotional stuff for our authors, trying our culinary skills in the kitchen, planning and executing the first online launch of Hibiscus: Poems that Heal and Empower and what not! We have been running a fully dedicated eCommerce portal (www.hawakal.com) since 2016.

This time we were flooded with orders from across India. Internationally, we sell our books in bunches through Amazon. Of course, the deliveries got delayed due to the interrupted road and air transports within India. However, the buyers showed remarkable understanding and we were pretty happy the way we served our readers and authors.

During the first three months of the pandemic outbreak in India, we released 14 books in print. This was a commendable feat for an independent publisher, especially at the time when all the big houses were non-functional.

Looking ahead
We never stopped; we didn’t have any recess either. So, the question of ‘switching work back on’ does not arise at all. About the new world requirements: printed books will survive all hardships.

In hindsight
We realised the importance of having our own eCommerce portal early in our business. We worked really hard on developing the website and it yielded marvellous results in these difficult times. Since we have an exclusive poetry catalogue we never had to depend on bookstores

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