Dubai resident Tatiana browsing through Bookhero’s Book4book rack at the Oasis Mall basement Image Credit: Arshad Ali/XPRESS

Dubai: As the cost of textbooks skyrockets, a Dubai-based company has launched a community initiative through which students can swap textbooks free of cost.

Responding to the January 11 XPRESS cover story titled Textbooks here are the world’s costliest, Monserrat Martin, founder of Bookhero, a company dealing with pre-owned books, said it had launched the initiative called ‘book4book” project at the Oasis Mall to enable families who could not afford to buy new textbooks to pick them up free of cost (subject to availability) from the company.

“Bookhero does a lot of one of community work and book4book is one such. Quite a few families, especially those with many kids and not so high salaries, have benefitted from this initiative as it allows them to get books, whether for school or college, for free,” said Montserrat.

She said, “The project also extends the life of books, helps reduce paper consumption and most important promotes studying at an affordable cost.”

Learning and sharing

Sanjay Kapoor, general manager of Oasis Mall, said, “Book4book is a fantastic initiative as it is about learning and sharing. It provides a great opportunity for students to leave their old school books which can be used by someone who needs them. If you see the huge collections of books, there’s something for everyone.”

She said the exchange is governed by some terms and conditions.

“We only exchange the same number of books that you give us. We only accept books that are in good condition. We also do not purchase any school book and the free swap strictly applies to study material only.”


Montserrat said the reason why book4book was in the Oasis Mall was because it supports recycling in a big way.

“Visitors to this mall understand the value of recycling, so we have people coming from across the emirates to exchange books.”

She said at any given the time, Bookhero’s shelves in the mall’s basement stock around 10,000-12,000 books. “Once they get cleared, we bring in more.”

Touching upon the company’s other community initiatives, she said, “We undertook a 1,001-book project where we supplied books to overseas refugee camps free of cost.

“We supply book to Dubai jails to encourage inmates to read and benefit from the practice. Every year, we also finance the sterilisation of over 1,000 stray animals through the “Animal project.”