Akshara book store is probably the sole surviving book store that is run independently. The book store has changed some locations and has been at the present address for over eight years in Journalists’ Colony in Jubilee Hills. Unlike other businesses, Akshara saw good times during the pandemic, and this year they have opened a coffee space within the store.
The little garden area that leads to the books has been converted into a coffee shop. The quaint little space is just enough for one to ‘get lost’ in the world of books and to have rather intimate exchanges with fellow readers regarding books or the store executives.
Started in 2022, Akshara has had a good response for the coffee space though it is limited in what it offers. Well, as it does not have a kitchen, one gets to have coffee and cookies. But one of the proprietors, Lakshmi, says they will be adding muffins soon. The coffee shop has a name too – it’s called Qahveh Khaneh, a name taken from Middle Eastern coffee houses where people meet up to discuss just about anything under the sun.
The entrepreneur Abhilasha Atluri was inspired by the concept along with the presence of Barnes & Noble bookstores right next to Starbucks in the US. Akshara has revived hosting small events since Qahven Khaneh opened. While they would host authors in the past, with time, they stopped the custom. But now, Akshara is holding events once again, much loved by their patrons. In fact, the pictures on the wall speak a thousand words and pull you into their world.
The book store has had an increase in sales since the pandemic, and they say people are mostly reading fiction these days. While they confess they cannot compete with e-commerce book stores, they say many of their customers understand that the prices are going to be higher in brick-and-mortar stores. The going is not easy, but the Akshara store continues to move with changing times.