Kavita Jhala is the founder of Kaffeinated Konversations, a startup Book-Box that caters to readers. KK aims to provide a culture of BookCare for readers and accessories, along with providing services for Book-Promos and Events. She is also a proud book fairy.
Kaffeinated Konversations has been the center of articles in The Times Of India, Dainik Bhaskar, Sakal Times, Free Press, among other blogs and papers.
Kavita talked with Team Storiyaan and spoke about her journey with books!
Questions and answers
When did the reading bug bite you? Tell us something about that. Which was the first book that made you cry?
I might have been in my 1st or 2nd grade. I remember reading my grandma’s magazine called Grihshobha. I was attracted to the comic strips in it. They were in Hindi, and I couldn’t understand them. I used to ask my mom what it meant. Being a working woman, she asked me to try and understand the meaning by looking at the visuals and tell her what I thought. It got me started on reading the pictures. Reading between the lines came much later. The first book that made me cry was “The Basket of Flowers” by Christoph Von Schmid. It was based on Christian values and spiritual life. I had picked it up from my school library in 6th grade. It left a significant impact on me, and I’ve read that book many times.
What does Kaffeinated Konversations mean to you? What is its significance in your life?
Do you know what they say about passion? Do what you love, and you’d never have to work a day in your life, right? That’s exactly what Kaffeinated Konversations is for me. It isn’t about work. It is something I love immensely, and I can’t think of anything else. Being a bibliophile, I always keep thinking about how other readers would like to enhance their reading experiences. Kaffeinated Konversations is my oasis, and I brew words, books, and bookish adventures.
You are a part of a lot of ventures and start-up projects; how do you manage them all?
I take up what I know is manageable for me and something that interests me. I have been soaked into entrepreneurship ever since I was born. After marriage, when I moved to Indore, I realized that the city needed a boost in entrepreneurship and hence started leading eChai ventures. Apart from Kaffeinated Konversations, which is a book box startup, I also indulge in making bookish and artistic items like candles, canvas art, postcards, and more. They match with my efforts in the book box. I have also been a freelance content writer since 2011. I trained people in content and creative writing and was an educational trainer for six years at the University of Cambridge, UK. If you look at it, it is all tied to literature, media, and the growth of knowledge – be it books or art. About managing it all, I do not think of it as “managing it.” I do it because I love it, and like I just said, when you love something you do, it does not feel like work.
Which authors do you think are underrated, and why?
Many authors from South Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and similar small countries are underrated. They do not have the resources for a grand marketing setup, or they aren’t extroverted. They face issues even though they are talented, and their books are worth reading. Indian authors who deal in niche genres like poetry, horror, satire, and humor do not get recognized. I wouldn’t mention the names of these authors, but they are great friends of mine and down to earth and knowledgeable.
How difficult is it to come up with different themes each month and curate books for a book box?
We have been running the book box for nearly four years. One of the most significant challenges is not to repeat a particular theme. Next would be curated according to the topic. There are times when the books or the merchandise arrive late, and we need to have a backup plan. This means every month, we pre-purchase everything for each box and send them out. This saves a lot of time during deliveries. Customization is complicated. Fandom book based customizations can be costly and increase the value of the box. Since readers would want to save, we try to communicate to them how it can be done within their budget and what things could be involved. We have particularly loved customizing book boxes on the fandom themes of Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, and The Night Circus. The challenge of budgeting, curating, and customizing is fun.
Have you ever read a book that made you think about fiction differently?
The Bird Box by Josh Maleman. It is the kind of fiction that tosses you upside down. It takes you through the visuals of a world that’s frightening and unbelievable, with an invisible enemy. So much like COVID – 19 today. It is a fiction that isn’t so detached from reality – it makes you feel like it could be our reality any day. I loved it.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading “The Sailor who fell from the Grace with the Sea” by Mishima. In Japanese, the book title means The Afternoon Towing. It was translated into English by John Nathan. It deals with teenage years, concepts of glory and honor, traditional and western values, love and human life, and the post-WWII Japanese lifestyle. (Kimitake Hiraoka, also known under the pen name Yukio Mishima, was a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model, film director, nationalist, and founder of the Tatenokai. Mishima is considered one of the most famous Japanese authors of the 20th century.)