Bookland proprietor Rupert Hopkinson is upbeat about what he regards as a major breakthrough for an initiative that has spent several years trying to popularise reading in Guyana. A number of well-publicised initiatives designed to capture a market which he had hoped would include the nation’s schoolchildren had met with what he admits was only modest success. As if those challenges were not enough there were others mostly associated with finding a permanent home for Bookland.
Patience and persistence would now appear to have paid off for Hopkinson. Bookland now occupies an attractive home at the corner of Woolford Avenue and Albert Street. Hopkinson says that what pleases him is the fact that the new premises now allows the organisation to undertake business initiatives that can help keep what is essentially a near not-for-profit initiative alive.
Bookland seeks to offer novels, textbooks, research texts and children’s reading material at prices which are often pushed as low as less than $100. Hopkinson has entered into a 15-year lease agreement with the Critchlow Labour College that allows him occupancy of the plot of land immediately west of the college and a modest wooden building sitting on the land. Having acquired the property the Bookland boss has moved to transform it into an attractive facility that includes paved walkways, neat marquees, well-manicured lawns and a plant and flower garden arrangement that adds a professional touch. Even at first glance Bookland’s new headquarters is by far the most attractive piece of real estate on Woolford Avenue.
Much of the passageway at the western extreme is occupied by bookshelves and tables on which have been placed hundreds of novels and texts. In an area that houses at least half a dozen primary and secondary schools in the immediate vicinity the facility is not out of place.
When Stabroek Business visited earlier this week a few passers-by dropped in. Hopkinson believes that with aggressive marketing the facility will catch on.
Bookland, however, is not stopping there. The new facility has enabled a new line of thinking that embraces other forms of enterprise. The western wall of the facility is adorned with an emblazoned notice that declares that the facility is open for the hosting of public events: weddings, parties, christenings, religious services; where the organisers and their guests are particularly mindful of gathering in a salubrious environment. The facility’s diary already has quite a few bookings.
Beyond the rental of the premises, Hopkinson says, the facility is positioning itself to plan and execute public events of its own in its designated children’s play area and attractive flower garden.
An initial $8 million investment in readying the plot of land has, Hopkinson says, been followed by a further $40 million investment in building structures and further enhancing the facility. The design, Hopkinson says, is his. He particularly boasts of his personal inputs in the creation of the garden. During this newspaper’s visit, a gardener was tending the plants and the lawn and Hopkinson was contemplating a forthcoming event which appeared designed to introduce the public to the new facility. There is, he says, still some distance to travel in the beautification of Bookland’s new home but Hopkinson exults in the fact that after years of effort punctuated with what he says have been bitter disappointments, Bookland stands on much more sustainable ground on account of a promising commercial initiative with which to sustain it.