There’s good news for Mumbai’s comic-book junkies—rare and expensive comics will be available on your doorstep without your having to buy them. Leaping Windows, an online comics rental service, is launching on 22 May with titles as varied as Marvel Comics, Akira and Vimanika. Bidisha Basu, one of the three founders—the others are Utsa Shom and Koel Chatterjee—tells us about her love for Manga and the dispersed community of comics lovers in India. Edited excerpts:
Why did you set up Leaping Windows?
Koel and I would spend a lot of time reading comics, especially Manga, in the aisles of Landmark or on the Internet because they are so expensive to buy, and many comics are not easily available. So we decided that we wanted to set up a place where you can read without buying and at the same time have a greater range of comics available.
Leaping Windows book collection.
Why not a book store then?
Initially, we thought of a small café where people can drink coffee and read. But then we realized we didn’t have the money for it, there was no way we were going to afford any kind of space in Mumbai whether small or big. The other option then was to take it online. And there are a number of models such as Seventymm and Librarywala, which are online movie and book rental services. So we adapted the model to suit our needs.
Where do you source the comics from?
Largely from a website called Flipkart. They have a distributor option so you can buy books in bulk for a discount. We collected many comics from a Singapore bookstore, Amazon and random shopping sprees to Landmark. We’ve also pitched in all our old comics.
Which titles are available right now?
We have about 1,200 books right now but we’ve placed orders for another 800. These books are coming from far off places, so they will take time to trickle in.
We have a large collection of DC comics, Dark Horse, and Marvel, all the Neil Gaiman books, a big collection of Manga, and many independent graphic novels, There’s also Asterix, Tintin, Amar Chitra Katha, etc. The rare book that we possess right now would be Akira but then again we haven’t managed to get all in the series.
What are the Indian titles?
There are titles from Vimanika and Amar Chitra Katha. We’re also looking to do some vernaculars but not right now since we don’t have the required know-how.
What kind of readership are you expecting?
I have no idea. They could be very few but we’re okay with that since none of us are looking to turn millionaires with this. The Tintins and Asterix will get us a wider base but then these are also the cheaper books which you can pick from any bookstall so we’re not sure how this is going to work out for us.
What age group will you be targeting?
Mostly our comics are targeted at people between 18 and 35 years. Comic book readers in that age group is a very thin slice of the reading population. We do have a kids section but it’s a relatively smaller section.
What is the cost of membership?
The membership is a minimum Rs1,500 for three months, with Rs500 as refundable deposit. Once you’re a member you don’t need to pay anything for books or the delivery. The principle is one book at a time as many times as you want.
Which areas in Mumbai will you deliver in?
Anywhere up to Virar, and we promise delivery within 24 hours of placing your order.
What do you hope to achieve with Leaping Windows?
I hope that people who like reading comics find it easier to find and read them. The website will also have a forum. By this, we hope to put comics lovers in touch with illustrators and publishers—a way of uniting the very dispersed comics community of India.
Leaping Windows launches on 22 May.