Thursday, April 14, 2011

THE DEATH OF THE BOOK STORE Musings of a Book Lover and Budding Writer

Musings of a Book Lover and Budding Writer

A few days ago, when I was walking down Tilak Road in Pune, my childhood friend hailed me while getting out his car (He is a businessman and runs a successful enterprise).

“Come,” he said, “let’s have a cup of tea in my office.”

It was 9 AM and his agency was opening for the day. We sat in his plush office and he ordered a cup of tea for me.

“So, you have become a writer!” he said, “I read all about you in the DNA on Sunday.”

“Well, yes,” I said. The Sunday Supplement of the DNA Newspaper had featured a nice write-up on me, and COCKTAIL my latest book of Short Stories about Relationships.

“The moment I saw your photo, I read the article and showed it to my wife and kids and told them you were my brilliant classmate in school who went to IIT and then joined the Navy. Now you have become a full time writer. I like one thing about you. You always do something different – first the navy, then a professor and now a writer. You wrote a book about food also, didn’t you? I remember you gave me a copy when I came to your place in Mumbai.”

“Yes,” I said, “Appetite for a Stroll.”

“You must give me copy of Cocktail too.”

“No free copy this time,” I said, “You will have to buy the book. You are a rich guy and this Cocktail costs much less than the Cocktail you sip every evening.”

“Come on, yaar, it is not about money. I just do not have the time to go shopping in bookstores. I work 24/7 and whatever time I get off I like to relax at home or at my club.”

“You’ve got an internet connection here?” I asked pointing to his PC Monitor.

“Of course, can you do business without internet?”

“Come on, order the book online,” I said.

“Hey, I am quite scared of using my credit card online, especially to an unknown site,” he said.

“No problem,” I said, “Flipkart will send you the book Cash on Delivery – you pay the courier when he gets the book – like the earlier VPP.”

It was simple. We opened the flipkart website, he ordered the book cash on delivery, immediately got an SMS with a code, confirmed his order. Three days later my friend gave me a call that COCKTAIL had arrived and he had already read a few stories and liked them.

It is thanks to the internet that my book COCKTAIL has reached so many readers – via Flipkart and Indiaplaza. A few copies were ordered via dial-a-book too and those abroad have been able to get their copies by ordering via the publisher’s website.

For a newbie author like me, it was quite easy “marketing” my book. Again thanks to the internet. I did it on Social Networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, Twitter and Linkedin, I sent emails to my friends and contacs, I wrote about my book on my blogs on blogger, sulekha and wordpress, I put it on my yahoo groups and google groups, various alumni networks, and then I sent SMS to all my contacts and friends.  It was easy – I just had to give them the links to flipkart, indiaplaza and other online bookstores to click on and order COCKTAIL online. The results have exceeded my expectations. Maybe because of the sheer ease and instantaneous speed of ordering online (and the fact that you could do it sitting right there and then), the convenience of getting the book delivered to your doorstep, most of my friends have procured a copy of COCKTAIL. Well, COCKTAIL has been reviewed online too by some book review and booklover websites and this too must have boosted online sales.

I wonder how many copies of COCKTAIL have been sold across the counter in bookstores. I do not understand the intricacies of book distribution (the “business model” or “supply chain”) but the fact of the matter is I have not seen the book prominently displayed in those elite bookstores like Landmark or Crossword where I go to browse once-in-a-while. Whenever I ask the publishers, all they tell me is that they have sent the book to the distributors and it will take time. The sheer lethargy of the system is quite frustrating, as any author wants his or her book to reach the readers as early as possible. I feel helpless and hapless before the “system”. I do not know whether it is true, but a well-wisher told me that you have to give a “mamool” to have your book displayed prominently, otherwise they will just “bury” the book in the shelves somewhere where it will take some effort for a browser to locate and find. Of course, I did not believe him and I wait patiently for COCKTAIL to become a “bestseller” and get its well-deserved pride of place. Until then, Dear Reader, in case you want to buy from your favourite bookstore, dig deep and you will find!

A friend from Goa tried to get the book from his favourite bookstore. They told him they would get the book but he is still waiting for his copy. Readers from Assam, Kerala, Orissa, Kolakata, New Delhi, all over, even abroad, want to buy Cocktail but do not find it in their nearest bookstores. I am convincing them to buy the book online on Flipkart, as they give discounts too.

By the way, a smart young friend told me that she browses in bookstores, selects her books, the goes home and orders the books online because of the discounts.

Convenience, speed and transparency make buying books online via the internet an attractive option as compared to going all the way to bookstores and then discover that the book you wanted is not available. You can order anytime, anywhere, at home, in office, and get your book delivered anywhere you want, even at the remotest corner of the world. I can foresee that initiatives like ordering a book on phone or SMS from dial-a-book and ring-a-book are going to become popular too, especially with the trendy youngsters.

E-Books and E-Readers like Kindle, iPad, Nook, Wink etc are becoming popular day by day and soon we will be downloading ebooks from virtual bookstores and online elibraries via the internet. I foresee a situation, in the near future, where authors will be able to directly sell their ebooks to readers via the internet – this would be literary utopia – a seamless interface between the writer and the reader.

Will all this eventually lead to the death of the traditional bookstore? With advances in Information Technology and as the reach of the internet proliferates, will the existing book distribution model need to change to keep up with times and to meet the challenge of online book marketing on the internet via online bookstores and also new innovations like dial-a-book? Will eBooks become more popular that paper books?

COCKTAIL has been a learning process for me. I have experienced first-hand what I once read somewhere – writing a book is much easier than publishing it and selling it. I never imagined that it was the author would have to put in so much effort to sell his book – I thought that an author just has to write the book and everyone else would do the rest.

Now I am writing my novel and I am not going to forget what I learnt from COCKTAIL experience. My first draft is over, but I am not going to hurry, for hurry burry spoils the “curry”. I am going to take my time, complete the manuscript and find a good literary agent who will guide me and help me get a good deal, with a reputed big publishing house, maybe with an international publisher. And of course, I will keep the Ebook option very much in mind! Meanwhile, let me explore whether COCKTAIL can be made into an Ebook.

Thanks for reading all this, Dear Reader – do comment and tell us your views – and don’t forget to order your COCKTAIL

I promise you that you will thoroughly enjoy this delicious heady and exciting COCKTAIL and you will be happy to have this book on your bookshelves.
Cheers and Happy Reading
With Warm Regards and Best Wishes

Author Bio Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures(2008) and is currently working on his novel. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
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Book Synopsis

Relationships are like cocktails. Every relationship is a unique labyrinthine melange of emotions, shaken and stirred, and, like each cocktail, has a distinctive flavour and taste. The twenty-seven stories in this collection explore fascinating aspects of modern day relationships: love, romance, sex, betrayal, marriage, parenting and even pet parenting. You will relish reading these riveting cocktails of intermingling emotions narrated in a temptingly engaging style, and once you start reading you will find this delicious “cocktail” unputdownable until the very end.

Book Details

Book: Cocktail: Short Stories about Relationships
Publisher: APK Publishers
Author: Vikram Karve
ISBN-10: 81-910918-4-4
ISBN-13: 978-81-910918-4-7
Binding: Paperback
Size: 5.5" x 8.5"
Number of pages: 192
Language: English
Publishing Date: March 2011
Edition: First

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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