How an IT employee turned entrepreneur set up a marketplace for used books 

(Last Updated On: May 30, 2023)

If you love reading books, believe in sustainability, and have a budget, then Used Books Factory is the website you need. Founded by Thilak Desing, a Chennai-based IT employee turned entrepreneur, Used Books Factory is a marketplace for second-hand books, and ships to almost every state in India. 

How did Thilak set up a second-hand bookstore online, create a marketplace integrating other sellers via an e-commerce platform and turn a profit? 

We got in touch with the entrepreneur to hear more about Used Books Factory and how the brand grew online. 


How to sell used books

Thilak would browse through the alleys of Moore Market in Chennai – a popular bazaar for second-hand books and spend hours trying to find something good to read. 

“I was preparing for IIT-JEE, and I remember shopping for hours in offline stores, looking for education books. There was no one place where I could save time, effort, and money. And that led to an idea.” – Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory  

As soon as Thilak joined the corporate world, he set to work to learn the ropes to set up his business. 

“I identified my own struggles with finding a single platform to source books, manage shipping, and decided to set up my own business to tackle this issue.” – Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory 

So how did he do it? 

Building a website

Realising that there was a growing demand for used books, Thilak set up a website called ‘Chennai Used Books’ that catered to customers in the city only. 

During his stint in the corporate world, Thilak Desing learned how to code and set up a website organically, and relied on nothing but SEO and careful customer research to grow his brand. 

Used books factory Instamojo

Analyse customer demand

Thilak did not spend big bucks on marketing or social media. His sole focus was to help customers find a platform to buy and sell old books.

So, he went to the offline markets personally, found the books customers were looking for and had the books delivered to them. He set up his first office in his home and began collecting books from customers personally. 

“As inventory went up, our revenue started to go up. We were able to reduce the middlemen’s involvement, and could interact with customers selling their used books directly.” – Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory 

Soon, there came a space issue. Too many books, not enough shelves!

Use SEO to build your business

“Our eCommerce website went LIVE 2 years ago, and this meant we had to amp up our shipping, online payments, and customer base too.” – Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory 

How did they manage to get so many visitors, customers and buyers? Through SEO! 

Thilak used coding to optimise SEO for his website, and had it ranking on the first page of Google! 

Take a look at the Used Books Factory website here. 

“ We started getting enquiries initially around Tamil Nadu, and then pan India! This led to us modifying our generic website to ‘Used Books Factory’. Soon after, as we became more process-oriented and watched how our demand grew.” – Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory  

How to meet customer demands after setting up an eCommerce website

Used Books Factory began to ship across India, even to Jammu and Kashmir! Even the pandemic did not stop them. 

“ Over 20% of our revenue comes from West Bengal, and to meet the ever growing demands, we relied on Government postal shipping to ensure that our customers continued to receive the books they ordered from our website.” Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory 

It was also important to ensure that the sellers ( customers who wanted to give away their books) were taken good care of. 

“There is always an increase in the quantity of books that customers wish to sell, leading to an increase in accumulation. However, enquiries are more for buying. Therefore, there is a balance between quantity being bought and sold.” Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory 

Recycled and good as new –  giving used books new life

Indians are money-conscious. If there is a discount for good quality books that are not easily available, they want to purchase it.

This observation by Thilak’s Used Books Factory quality control team led to setting up a process to recycle and repurpose the books coming in. 

“People who want to buy the latest editions, will try to sell off their older versions to us. So we repurpose it, make it look as good as new and put it up for sale. We also ensure that any book that does not meet our criteria, or that we have too many copies of, is donated in good condition to NGOs or charities. Hence, we maintain our zero wastage policy!” – Thilak , Founder of Used Books Factory 

Setting up Used Books Factory

Creating a marketplace for used books sellers with Instamojo API

How do you meet growing demands and increased orders on an eCommerce platform? Once Used Books Factory began to get multiple orders pan India, it became crucial to set up a trustworthy eCommerce website that allowed customers to pay easily for what they wanted. 

“I discovered Instamojo’s API and integrated it onto our website to enable easy online payments for anyone who wanted to buy our books. What impressed me was

  • the overall ease of coding
  • customer payment refunds
  • different kinds of payments for goodwill transactions

It was the one-stop solution for any payment on our platform.” – Thilak Founder of Used Books Factory 

Besides this, the business faced a minimal issues with their payments, thanks to the customer support they received from our team.

“There was always an immediate response for any emails that they send, and the  taxes and commission information are very transparent too.” Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory 

After managing operations so well, Thilak Desing took his business one step further – with an e-marketplace!

Now, Used Books Factory integrates second-hand bookstores on their website and allows them to sell to customers.

“We have provided logins for individual sellers in the market  and multiple sellers  are now selling on the website. Our online revenue jumped 3X more after onboarding these sellers. Thanks to our website  ranking in Google, we have been approached by second hand book sellers from Odisha, Telangana.” – Thilak, Founder of Used Books Factory  

Not all eCommerce websites need coding. If you wish to set up an online store to kickstart your business, choose the Instamojo premium online store. 

Instamojo API Keys

Instamojo provides a wide range of payment options – Credit/Debit cards, Netbanking, EMI, Wallets, and UPI. We support Rupay, VISA, MasterCard, and AMEX cards. You can choose our APIs and SDKs, or jump straight to our plugins. 

Like Used Books Factory, our APIs are specially built for marketplaces. You can add multiple beneficiaries, split payments and settle them to individual beneficiaries, and hold or release funds as per fulfilment. 

Got an idea to sell online? We have you covered. 

Set up your premium Instamojo online store

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