Tag Archives: books

Friend req to ashok k banker

29 Nov

Just sent a friend request to Ashok k Banker. Worship what he writes. He is the AR Rahman of Ramayan. Where is mahabharatha, dude?

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Mathew Reilley new book

16 Nov

all set to buy and read Mathew Reilly new book http://ping.fm/NIoRd

Notes from Chennai Book Fair – good initiative but not well organized

20 Jan

3 days before the Chennai Book Fair got over I visited the place – Venue : St George Anglo Indian School , Poonamalle High Road . It would have been criminal had I not gone for the fair. I am a book worm, an aficionado of books and above all I just love spending time with them- looking or reading.It was the 32nd annual Chennai Book Fair and i have been visiting it religiously for 6 years now .

I may break this ritual from next year!

It is not that book fair was a failure. It was by all accounts a resounding success . The citizens of Chennai should be proud to host such a prestigious event. I am proud of it. I am a citizen here. Lived here all my life.

But the thing is of the rows and rows of book stalls i visited ( for about 3 and half hours) I just couldn’t find a single stall where i wanted buy a book. Sure the books were all there. But then I would also find the same books in a Landmark or Crossword bookstore. Save for the 10% discount offered there was nothing special in the fair. Absolutely nothing !

So why then do I need the Chennai Book fair ?

But here are the key insights which you may find very interesting :

  • More people visited the cafeterias to eat samosa, popcorn’s, cone ice creams and soups than the book stalls.
  • Those who did visit the stalls spent more time ,again, eating out Sri Krishan Sweets and less time at the stalls.
  • The book fair is a heaven for people who are read Tamil books. Less interesting for people like me who love to buy books which are otherwise hard to find in the regular book stores.
  • It was an ideal place for parents to buy books for their kids. Just wish that they had used the stalls properly instead of herding the kids to eat at food stalls.
  • It was badly organized.

Ideas for the organizers :

  • There should be a cap to the number of stalls : I visited close to 400 stalls. No wonder people dint find it interesting. By the time they reached the 50 stall they would have walked around a lot, got tired, thirsty, hungry and bored to death. It then kills the purpose of the fair .
  • Ban food stalls inside the stall: It is insulting to see people sit in a corner with their kids clamouring around drinking tea/coffee and eating samosa. I dont blame them. The attention span of kids is like 1o min or thereabouts. You cant expect them to drag their parents to visit the stalls when their eyes feat on delcious loking straberry ice creams? If one kid sees another of his brethren enjoying a popcorn or samosa, you know what is gonin to happen next.
  • Segment the stalls into different verticals :  All the books stalls were packed like cards. Shuffled around and completely disorganized. If I wanted to find a English book stall I dont want to walk around 30 minutes before I found one. It pisses me off ! I would like the organizers to segment the book stalls in some order. English, Tamil , Kids Corner, Spiritualism . This is just an example. It could be in some order. Any order ! Just make it easy for me to find the stall relevant to me . Thats all
  • Dont give permisson to every food seller in town to open shop in the fair : I saw people who had opened mobile kiosks to sell –  Groundnuts, Cup noodles, ice creams.. blah blah… What the hell ? I am sure someone in the goverment made tons of moeny sigining permissions to open stalls like that .I am at the fair to buy books, maybe drink or eat something . I am not at the fair to indulge in eating! Jeez!

But here is something what I really liked :

Opposite to the school I saw roadside book sellers hawking duplicate copies of the same books which I found inside the fair. They were selling ” Imagining India” by Nandan Nilekani for Rs 120 ( MRP : Rs 700), ” Hot, Flat and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman for Rs 140 ( MRP : Rs 500) which i bargained it to Rs 100, just for the kick of it.  Almost all the latest books released in the market today has found its way into the hands of these roadside books sellers – all duplicate copies.One guy actually gave his visting card and asked me to contact him later for I had asked him for old copies of HBR. The guy even had a website . How cool is that ?

But here I found old , original copies of “Arms and the Man” by Bernard Shaw, “Future shock” by Alvin Toffller, “The Blind Assasin”  by Margret Attwood, ” For whom the Bell tolls” by Ernest hemingway, ” A thousand Splendid Suns” by Dominique Lappiere and Larry Collins, ” As a man thinketh” by James Allen, ” The Road less traveled” M Scott Peck, ” Short Stories” by Anton Chekov and scores of other original , old copies of classics. I bought most of them. I spent close to Rs 500 and bought more than 70 books . Not a  single duplicate copy . All the books I bought were priced around Rs 10, Rs 20 and Rs 40.  I even saw an original copy of ” Build to Last” by Jim Collins priced at Rs 60. I dint buy it because I already had a copy  bought a year ago for Rs 300.  You get the drift, dont you ?

The point is :

  • Why dint I find a single second-hand book shop at the fair selling old, original editions of  the classics?
  • How come the police allowed these people to sell printed,duplicate books right opposite to the fair ?
  • I thought more books were bought at the roadside stalls than what was actually sold inside the book fair .

The Chennai Book Fair is a great event . I did find some good stalls like – British Council Library, The American Library , Krishnamachari Yoga Mandiram, Isha Yoga, Art of Living, Osho etc. They were very focused on what they were selling to the customers. People knew what to expect in the stall unlike other publishers trying to sell almost all books and titles under one stall. It just creates too much of confusion and also very time consuming for the consumers.

The Bristish Council and American Library were promoting memberships at discounted rates. They dint need the money . They were just promoting and encouraging people to read good and more books. Ironically, I saw very little walk-ins to these stalls.

By the way , I did eat “Bread bajji” and ” potato bajji” inside the stall . Damn it !  🙂

Currently Reading….

18 Jan

Fiction :

The Hard boiled wonderland and End of the Earth by Haruki Murakami

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

Non -Fiction :

Blue Ocean StrategyW.Chan Kim and renee Mauborgne ( all about creating new uncontested markets )

Magazines :

Massacre of Innocents Front Line

Harvard Business Review – March 2002 issue

Outlook Business ( Current Issue )

The top 12 books on Innovation and Design by Business Week

19 Dec

Here it is … Finally , we have the list of top 12 books on Innovation and Design for 2008 .

Business Week has a great list here, but has missed out on 2-3 books which could have made it to the list.

Read it here Best Innovation & Design Books of 2008

I have read three of the books in the list-

The Game Changer by Ram Charan and A.G Lafley

The Age of Innovation by C.K Prahalad and M.S Krishnan

The Back of the Napkin by Don  Roam

Want to read :

Groundswell  by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

Book that should have made to the list :

The New rules of Marketing and PR by David Scott

Tribes by Seth Godin

Share your thoughts and your list… would love to have opinions here

How the Rs 10 soup selling gal gets its right and Satyam doesn’t on customer service

19 Dec

The race to MBA degree is mind boggling. In India especially, it is craze sometimes rivaled only to cricket. You can see it for yourself the hordes of mba wanna- be’s and the media coverage peak during the Nov-Jan season every year. What a spectacle to watch . Almost every magazine worth its salt come out with b-school suvery giving a list a top 50 colleges “you should study at ” . Some even bring out a separate book to cash in on the boom. And, hey .. don’t count me out.. I am in the race too .

A degree in MBA teaches you to understand cash flow statements, how to come up with great marketing ideas and all that jazz. But I wonder how did Shankari ,a 1 st year B.com student from a low rung women college get great ideas on marketing and customer service.

Let me give you the story first .

I love soup and for having that one or two cups of it  I go all the way to Ananna Nagar park where this guy sells really mouth watering , pipping hot soup ( completely natural ) at Rs 6 per cup. He has good stuff. You have to give him that credit !

These days( 3 months approx) ,  I drink soup from one of the Fresh retail outlets i visit. The soup is sold in small kiosks at Rs 10 per cup. You would have seen similar kiosks selling sweet corns and popcorn’s at a retail store near to your house. Small enterprising men/women take franchise contracts from the company which sells these products , then pay rent to the retail store and put up a kiosk outside and sell it. Great business idea . Has the ideal ingredient of entrepreneurship, job and wealth creation and good products to customers at affordable rates.

Now, getting back to the story . Shankari is a 1st year student studying for B.com at W omen’s College. She sits at the kiosk every evening with a book in hand selling Rs. 1o per cup soups. I have options to chose as well – Tomato, Plantain, Mushroom, Vegetable. For reasons unknown to myself I always buy Plantain or Mushroom. I knew what I was  buying but never gave it much thought to it. I just go up ask  , say , Monday it is plantain soup , Tuesday it is Mushroom. It is cyclic.Till the day – about  3 weeks back – shankari popped the question at me , ” Sir, why do you always buy Mushroom and Plantain soup, why don’t you ever try Tomato and Vegetable?” …

I dint know what to tell her. I muttered and gave some lame answer about my preference for mushroom and not liking tomato taste and stuff.. the next question caught me by surprise.

“Sir , other than mushroom and plantain, what other variety you like ?” ..

I gave her my options. And then asked what is she gonna do about it . She said , ” I will ask my brother to check if the company can give us the soup of your choice” ..

That bowled me out completely . Why did she bother to find out what my taste are ? why didn’t she just sell the soup at Rs 10 and continue to sit and study with that book in her hand ? why ? why ?

Normally, unless you pack it to your house, one drinks the soup standing there right next to Kiosk. There are 2 advantages to it – One , the soup remains hot and two you get extra corn as second helpings. I love the corn which comes with the soup , so I stand there and finish the soup then drop it in the dustbin and go back home.

That day,  while I was standing there drinking the soup ( I was drinking vegetable soup with lots of pepper. I had cold and shankari said drinking that soup with lots of pepper helps) she was asking the same question to lts of other customers of hers. Not every one. But a lot of them . Similar questions . In her own ingenious way she was conducting a survey. Maybe she realized what she was doing . Maybe she dint. That is not the point. She was proactive. She tried to understand her customer.

Later when i asked why she only asked the questions to a select few customers , she replies , ” They are my regular customers” ..

I felt privileged that day to  be a customer of hers.

Her brother has taken the franchise contract from the parent company. While she sits at the fresh outlet , her bro is doing the same thing some other part of the city.

I wonder if  she had read any of those management books? did  she read “The New Age of Innovation: Driving C0-Created Value through Global Networks” by C.K Prahalad on how to serve customized products to a customer in a collaborative environment with the N=1 , R= G rule ? How did she get this idea what a Univerity of Michigan Author did after much research ?

By the way, The New Age of Innovation has made it to the top 12 books on innovation given out by Business Week.

Read it here :  Best Innovation & Design Books 2008

But how come Stayam Computers dint get it right ?

The big fiasco of merger/buying Mayatas infra and properties which caused ripple of appalling magnitude among the investors across the table is there for everyone to see.

I read somewhere that the ISB’s dean was also part of the board which took the decision to buy out the two companies ( run by Ramalinga raju son’s). I am no authority to question the merit of the proposed buyout. Nor am I an investor. As a rule i don’t directly invest in Sensex. No speculative, sentiment prone gambling for me..No Sir.

But what I would like to know is how come such highly educated ,the creme-la-de creme managers and CEO and CFO of the company dint have the inclination to ask its investors and clients their opinion before taking such a decision? How come the MBA’s of IIM and MDI and blah blah dint know the tenets of customer service when such a proposal was mooted in the first place?

But man, what a PR and Corp Comm nightmare they should be having right now ? I cant but feel sorry for the guy who is handling the company’s PR account. He must be literally running pillar to post to get things “done” . The green horns must be having a great time in learning the art of crisis management. what better case study can they get .. ?

By the way , I loved the new Idea Cellular ad . About asking the people first before taking a political decision. The creative guy and the copywriter deserve full marks for the new ad . The previous ads were highly creative but not practical . The new one is very creative, very practical and got the execution right . kool Ad huh ?

IBM has a great caption going for its print ads – “STOP selling what you have and Start selling what they want”. Now, they get it .. Bingo ..

You get the drift ?


PG Wodehouse books at dirt cheap rates

13 Dec

How many of you guys are real PG Wodehouse buff like me ? If you fall into this category then i am quiet sure you read Wodehouse books either from British council, school/college library or private library. You actually dint buy one cos it was too costly . Somehwere in 250-350 range,right ? 
Not anymore. Check out the PG Wodehouse books available at Landmark book stores in India. You now get PG Wodehouse books for Rs 100 bucks . Aint that cool ?

 

So go ahead and stock up your library shelves with Jeevs and Blandings castle stories ..