PILGRIMS has become the group name representing several businesses both in India and Nepal.
From its humble beginnings in Varanasi, the business was started by Rama Nand Tiwari, a book-lover turned businessman.Rama entered the book trade in 1971 at the age of 18, working for the owner of a large bookshop in Varanasi. When the owner died unexpectedly of a heart attack, Rama started on his own by selling books on a blanket outside the Government Tourist Bungalow until enough money was saved to rent a very small bookstall next door. During this time, Paul Wagner, from the Australian book company, Numitex International, became friends of Rama. Paul took Rama on business trips to major Indian cities helping him acquire additional experience and contacts within the book industry. Rama and Paul optimistically named the small shop Numitex International which was chosen to reflect the Australian association. When the landlord doubled the rent and refused to negotiate for additional floor space, Numitex was forced to sell out.
When Paul returned to Australia in 1981, John Snyder showed up at the doorstep in Varanasi. Since the founding, he has been working off and on with Pilgrims and the Tiwari family for the past 25 years, serving in the earlier years in retailing and merchandising, and in the latter years in managing and publishing.
THE FIRST MOVE TO NEPAL
Before the present bookshop, Pilgrims Book House in Kathmandu , was acquired in 1984 from the Hare Krishna owners of The Order of Pilgrims Book Shop, Rama moved to Pokhara , Nepal where his brother had started a small book stall and restaurant. The Pokhara shop was closed a couple of years later and family and friends moved to Kathmandu . By the time the packing was finished, it was a star-studded night for an all-night ride to Kathmandu on top of a cold lorry. The move allowed Rama freedom to travel to purchase books both new and old, while his wife Pushpa Tiwari assumed daily management of the store.
EXPANSION: Pilgrims slowly began to expand, growing larger than the other bookstalls in the city, alarming the local distributors (and competitors) from which most of the books were being purchased. Their low trade discounts and general reluctance to sell forced the business to go directly to the major distributors in India . With increased profit margins resulting from direct purchasing and the introduction of western business practices, the bookshop was able to expand several times over the years allowing more floor space for non-book merchandising. Of course, there were a number of "Friends of Pilgrims" over the early years who provided temporary loans to get us by during some difficult growth pains. Eternal thanks...you know who you are.
IS THERE EVER ENOUGH ROOM FOR A BOOKSTORE?
By 1990, Pilgrims Book House was in desperate need for more space--not only for merchandising, but for storage and office space. A building was found at the entrance of the one of Kathmandu 's most prestigious 5-Star Hotels, The Yak & Yeti, and Kailash Book Distributors was born. By this time, Pilgrims' old and rare book collection had grown to over 10,000 volumes and Kailash became its repository. It also housed the office where Pilgrims' first catalogues were compiled and the first time we attempted to computerize the rare books. (Nine years later, they're almost done!)
LET'S PUBLISH OUR OWN THINGS:
In the beginning, finances were available only to publish small booklets to fill publication gaps for the tourist market in Kathmandu . By 1991, Book Faith India (BFI) was founded in Delhi in partnership with a local publisher. BFI was created to facilitate Pilgrims' publishing and distribution, and later for the manufacture and export of handicrafts and other goods. Although Pilgrims continues to publish under its own name, BFI became the imprint for major works, particularily for publications targetted for the international market. Postcards have become one of Pilgrims largest publishing undertakings. Over the years, Pilgrims has worked with internationally acclaimed photographers, resulting in a postcard series printed in Bangkok , in what many consider to be one of the most beautiful postcard series in the world.
HANDICRAFTS, WHY NOT?
The continuing success of handicraft sales at Pilgrims Book House led to the expansion of additional five rooms for displaying and sales. Handicraft product line has since expanded into antiques, perfumes, handmade stationery, oils, jewelry, fabrics, pashminas and more.
THE BIG MOVE In 1994:
Pilgrims Book House in Thamel acquired the lease on the adjoining hotel that doubled its square footage. Five additional rooms for offices were also acquired for the General Business Office which was used for editorial work, accounting and worldwide mail order, shipping and publishing. Space for a music room and library was also acquired. In 1996, Pilgrims opened a garden restaurant and coffee bar attached to the rear of the bookstore.
ONE DOOR CLOSED, ANOTHER OPENED:
Nineteen ninety seven also proved to be another landmark year with the closing of Kailash Book Distributors and the opening of Pilgrims Book House in Kupondole, Patan ( NOW CLOSED) . It housed a rare book collection of over 25,000 volumes, in addition to an extensive collection of new books specializing in Himalayan subjects as well as featuring gifts and handicrafts. This new bookstore consisted of over 9,000 square feet on four floors making it one of the largest bookstores in South Asia.
BIGGER BUSINESS, BIGGER OFFICES, RIGHT?
Later in the same year, the Business Center was closed and reopened in September 1998 to facilitate the expanding needs of Pilgrims' business and publishing offices, which now includes an executive office, conference room & publishing library, two business offices, publishing room, shipping room, and seven computer workstations. The six vacated offices were converted into book showrooms increasing the number of book house rooms to twenty. The book house inventory was computerized in 1998-99, and four networked workstations were added.
AND ONE FOR THE ROAD:
In 1999, Pilgrims returned to Varanasi , India and opened its third book house. But, luckily, no blankets this time.
YET ANOTHER EXPANSION:
With a motto to display almost everything in a single large room, Pilgrims inaugurated another branch again in the heart of Thamel - J. P. Road - in 2008. Kopundole Branch (Now CLOSED)...J. P. Road Remodeled and Expanded equiping with everything to satisfy our valuable customers.
YES, PILGRIMS IS ONLINE Since 1998
with Books, Handicrafts, Calendars, Postcards, Posters, Maps, Teas, Soaps, Music, Incense, Bookmarks and more.....
MAY 16, 2013 INCIDENT at more than 25 years old PILGRIMS BOOK HOUSE, THAMEL:
An unforgettable tragic incident happened in May 16, 2013 at Pilgrims Book House, Thamel. Our mainstore caught fire and almost everything existed physically therein burnt down to ashes. We, however, have survived yet with our another outlet - JP Road, Thamel - very close to our old premises. Now, we are struggling to rebuild and restore the Learning Center again.
Rebuilding PILGRIMS BOOK HOUSE after tragic fire:
Now Pilgrims book house is run under Mrs. Kahani Tiwari Sharma, Ms Elizabeth Tiwari and Mr Rishab Sharma, with the help of dedicated versatile team of Staff members. They all have put on all their efforts after fire,to get back Pilgrims book house spreading knowledge and awareness through books.Keep up the good work and cause for making world a better place to live in through books.Never end Peace and love.
Note: Now Pilgrims Book House has two stores:
- Pilgrims Book House
Chaksibari Marg JP ROAD, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal Contact +977 1 4221546/ +977 9803926018/ 9818973392
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com
- Pilgrims Publishing/ Pilgrims Book House
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) India, Contact +91-542-6544040/2314060, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org