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Welcome to Bookistaan

Bookistaan is India’s first recommendations based online children’s bookstore

As a small town bookstore, we have an inclination towards Indian publishing and writing, that hasn’t been able to find the routes into smaller towns. We believe it’s important for children to be exposed to their own literature for them to grow into empathetic individuals, proud of their own roots.

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9AM-6PM Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India +91 9711541107 [email protected]
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Here’s bringing to you the story of Kahani Tree, a children’s bookstore based in Mumbai. Founded by a fellow book lover, Sangeeta Bhansali, with the aim to find rare Indian treasures and share them with those who’d appreciate it. And you know what they say! Love grows with sharing!

Every bookstore has a story, what’s yours? How was Kahani Tree born?

In early 2006, I came across the wonderful range of children’s books published by Tulika in Chennai.  That’s when I realized that my sons–then 14 and 12 years –had grown up without seeing any Indian children’s books that were not about gods, goddesses and the Panchatantra! While their bookshelves were filled with wonderful books from all around the world, we barely had any multicultural books that told interesting stories about our people and our country.

In spite of frequenting bookstores in Mumbai, I realized that such books were just not available in our city. As a mother and a book-lover, I felt it was important for every child to have access to Indian stories and folk tales, as well as engaging story-books in Hindi and the regional languages, so that they were not growing up as strangers to their own culture.

As a publisher with Vakils, I understood the issues that other small independent publishers like us faced to make our books available in retail. So with Vakils’ support, Kahani Tree began with a curated selection of children’s books sourced from across the country. We promoted them by participating in school book-fairs, doing author events in schools and at literary festivals. Recently, we have expanded our little bookstore to carry a curated range of international picture and middle-grade books, too.


You are a children’s bookstore with a special focus on Indian Publishing and writers, how easy or difficult has it been for you as a seller to find a place for these Indian titles in the India.

It has been an interesting journey!  When we started over a decade ago, Kahani Tree was showcasing a range of unique Indian children’s books that had barely been visible in Mumbai before.  And the reaction was always “Wow! Why haven’t we seen these books before! Where are they available?”

Now there is, clearly, a growing appreciation for every child to have access to a selection that has books that are both windows (that allow them to see the world and help to understand people whose lives were different from their own) and mirrors (that reflect their own realities and understand that there are others like themselves dealing with similar issues).

Kahani Tree promotes books that go beyond the ‘best-selling’ range that one sees in retail.  We are proud, though, that we do more than just sell books! Through school book fairs and author interactions, bookstore events and by participating in literary festivals in the city, we are happy to spread the joy of reading and books.

Bookstores have been struggling ever since the digital revolution swept the industry, how have you been coping?

Kahani Tree has grown slowly and organically, and we’ve happily attracted those customers that prefer the print format —those that love holding, touching and smelling books!  With children’s books, the reading levels and interests vary so much at every age, that it is important to enable customers to browse and understand the books before buying.

We also know our books well through careful selection and love recommending books, after understanding the customers’ interests.  Our sales have steadily increased over the years, but more than that, it’s been wonderful to see the awareness for good books growing and know that people are appreciating our curated collection.

You do a lot of book events in schools, and other places around the city and you’ve helped set up reading libraries, tell us a little more about them?

I believe it is important to promote reading for pleasure amongst all children. It was, therefore, necessary to make our unique range of Indian story books, available both in English and the regional languages, accessible to children from all backgrounds, and especially the less privileged.  We work with several schools and non-profit organizations to help set up mini-libraries and reading corners.  We encourage their librarians and teachers to come to Kahani Tree, browse and select books by a range of publishers that are simply not available in retail.  We have also facilitated book readings and author interactions in such schools and organizations and it’s been so fulfilling to spread the love for stories and books.


How much do you think book events like these, actually contribute in spreading the reading culture?

Well planned book-events and children’s literary festivals go a long, long way in spreading the reading culture. When children get a chance to meet the author of a book they’ve read, or if a story-teller makes a book come alive, a special connection is made.  The children are energized and inspired with a new appreciation for reading.  We have seen this happen over the years, both in the schools we work with and at book-store/festival events that we have been doing.  Parents and teachers will vouch for it!

Do events like these, it in any way, help the bookstore survive? Do they bring in any return?

Book events help to build reading communities and bring together people with similar interests.  I am convinced that interesting events and curated book collections are the only way for bookstores to draw in new and different customers and survive in the rapidly growing online book world.


What do you think the future in going to be like for the business?

I am optimistic.  We simply have to be!  I sincerely believe that we must strive to create reading, thinking, open-minded and empathetic children and they are the ones that will make a difference in these crazy times that we presently live in. We also must make every effort to make the independent bookstore survive that allows for meaningful customer interactions and builds reading communities.

Kahani Tree Mumbai

Kahani Tree Mumbai

On a much lighter note, tell us five books that you’d recommend all your readers?

Gajapati Kulapati – Ashok Rajagopalan

Elephants Never Forget – Anushka Ravishankar

The Mountain that Loved a Bird – Alice McLeran

Advaita the Writer – Ken Spillman

Who Will be Ningthou? –  Indira Mukherjee

Oh, the places you’ll go! – Dr. Seuss

The Enormous Crocodile – Roald Dahl

Heart in a Bottle – Oliver Jeffers

Wonder – R J Palacio

Journey – Aaron Becker

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