Sri Lanka’s first online bookshop launched in Colombo
August 20, 2011, 7:56 pm
By Puck Stamps
From now on, Sri Lankans will have the opportunity of buying their English, Sinhalese and Tamil books online via www.books.lk.
It was the inventive businessman Sujan Dias who came up with the idea to launch an online bookshop for Sri Lankans. His partner Samantha Liyanage, Director Operations, supports him with the execution of the business.
Q: How did the idea to launch an online bookshop come up?
A: I absolutely enjoy reading and I travel frequently as well. I noticed that the choice of books abroad was way more diverse than in Sri Lanka. Therefore, I started bringing books to Sri Lanka, not only for myself, but also for my family and friends. It became a hobby and I even started a website: bookazon.com. One of my friends suggested that I could use this concept in a more professional and commercial way. I realized there must me more people who do prefer a greater offer of books, so I took his suggestion seriously and started this website.
Q: What makes the online bookshop worth visiting?
It is the first online bookshop ever launched in Sri Lanka. There are different bookstores that are online, but there wasn’t an online bookshop that existed on its own. We sell English, Sinhalese and Tamil books. The response on this diversity was tremendous. Not only people in Colombo order books, but we saw Sri Lankans living in the North of the country approac us for books as well. Moreover, people can just order any book that they want, even if it is not on the website. When they send us an e-mail with the request for a book, we try to find and sell it.
Q: Is the business doing well and what kind of books do you sell best?
At first, sales were quite low, but the situation is now better. We want to improve the time within which we should be able to deliver books. Now, it takes 10 to 12 days to deliver a book, but our aim is to do it within one work week. We notice that especially fiction, novels, biographies and educational books are the most popular.
Q: There was no online bookshop in Sri Lanka until you came in. Does that mean Sri Lankans are afraid to buy things online?
No, Sri Lankans are quite familiar with online buying. I think no one came up with the idea to introduce an online bookshop. People might think that the market is too small for such a venture. Besides this, we offer various options to pay for the ordered books. The simplest way is to pay with a credit card, but it is also possible to pay by bank deposit. Our customers may even pay after they receive the books home. That is probably the most secure option.
Q: Is there any difference between the price of a book in a store and those sold on your website?
There shouldn’t be any difference in the prices. We certainly don’t want to out-price ourselves though we have to include a delivery fee, which can be hard to determine as our customers live in different areas.
Q: Lots of bookstores expand their offer with CDs, DVDs and even toys or telephones. Is that part of a future plan for your business?
We already offer CDs and DVDs, and even magazines. When our operations expand, we can certainly think of more options. For now, we just want our website to be known by the Sri Lankans. With our bookshop, we want people to be able to order any book, from any country and to let them discover the different quality of books that the world offers.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
More Lankan students stranded in UK as another two colleges close down
August 20, 2011, 7:17 pm
by Sujeeva Nivunhella
In a disturbing trend, more Sri Lankan students have been left stranded in London following two more colleges putting up shutters. This follows the sudden closure of Fullham & Chelsea College in London earlier which dislodged 38 Lankan students, as exclusively reported in The Sunday Island last week.
The two latest educational institutions to be closed down are Bloomsbury Business School and London Business Academy in London which have displaced 52 Sri Lankan students — twelve from Bloomsbury Business School and 40 from the London Business Academy.
The students affected by the closure of these three colleges are struggling to stay in London as, in terms of the agreement, their student visas will be void if the colleges they attend are closed down, sources here said.
The Sunday Island understands that the Sri Lankan High Commission in London is now in touch with the British Accreditation Council (BAC) to seek relief for the stranded students. The Chief Executive Officer of the BAC, Dr. Gina Hobson is expected to meet with High Commission officials this week.
High Commission officials have also sought a meeting with officers of the United Kingdom Boarder Agency (UKBA) to discuss the visa issue of these students.
The British government has imposed strict rules and guidelines for schools, colleges and universities for their overseas students and these colleges have apparently wound up as they could not adhere to the regulations in place.
The government has now cut down the working hours per week to 10 hours for overseas students and their spouses are completely debarred from taking up employment. Previously, the spouses of the students were allowed to work freely.
It is reported that the affected students had to pay more than 1.5 million rupees to agents in Sri Lanka for their enrolment to overseas colleges.