Herald: Makes for depressing reading

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Makes for depressing reading

10 Mar 2019 04:51am IST
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10 Mar 2019 04:51am IST
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The business of selling books over the counter is a tough and at time depressing experience, given the online presence that promises discounts as well as delivers free of cost. Ajit John spoke to various publishers and book retailers to understand the problems and also to understand the fate of Goan book writers in these complicated time

The pleasure of reading a book is akin to inhaling fresh air on

a mountain top. A lung full of invigorating oxygen reaching those corners never touched before. A good book full of fresh interesting ideas encourages thinking and debate. The book market in the country is expected to touch around Rs 730 billion plus by 2020 at a conservative estimate. Fuelled by new platforms like Amazon and other online sites, people are buying more books. What about Goa? Has the sale of bookstores remained steady or slumped due to the emergence of new entertainment platforms? Or has the sale of books moved online keeping in line with trends in other parts of the country.

Khalil Ahmed of Broadway was quite categorical when he said, sales had witnessed an increase over the last six months from the store. Khalil said” Flipkart has reduced its exposure in this market though Amazon has been selling used books a lot”. People in Goa he said still walked into the store to check the books on offer and picked them. Speaking of the online phenomenon, he said “Please remember it is only the international bestsellers that receive a great deal of publicity that are purchased online. The discounts are good too but remember, there are so many good books that you can come across in a book store only by browsing.”

Asked about the sale of books by Goan authors, he said, it all happened at book stores and never online. If there was a request for a book by a Goan author from abroad, it usually came via email. Goan books by Goan authors or on subjects relevant to the state evoked decent sales. Asked to give numbers, he said it would not be unusual to sell more than 100 books a week.

The other big store in Panjim, Crossword was witnessing decent sales though not as per the potential of the market. A sales executive not cleared to speak to the media said books were being purchased by visitors, non-resident goans and foreigners. The number of Goans visiting and buying books remained consistent right through the year, the executive said. With regards to books by Goan authors, the executive said that did not happen out of their outlet because they did not stock them.

Rakhee kapur of Literati was candid when she said business had been affected by the online phenomenon by as much as 30% to 35%. This she said was her guesstimate. The convenience of delivery coupled with the discounts was a major plus, especially in a place like Goa where transport was a problem. Amazon and Flipkart, she said had not made it a level bargaining field.

With regards to Goan authors, she said not much of sale happened online and if it did it was few and far in between.

Frederick Noronhafounder of the alternate publishing house, Goa 1556 however had a different song to sing. He said “Times have changed, we have to take books to the people and we have to bring it to them in surroundings that they are comfortable in. People are reading books in Goa; the young are reading. People in Goa are reading books by Goan authors and we make this possible by book launches, exhibitions etc. I have nothing to complain. I focus on non-fiction books and I am not complaining”. With regards to Konkani books he was candid when he said it was all over the counter because the idea of going online was a bit foreign for them.

Leonardo Fernandes of The Dogears Bookshop and Cinnamon Teal Publishing in Margao said the company had a presence online with some books present but for a large part it usually happened over the counter. Books by Goan authors he said would sell very well at the time of its release and then it tapers off. The company published around 10-15 books every year in English with a print run of around 500-1000. What must be remembered here is that almost all the books released in Goa are self-published. At the time of the launch it is not unusual to sell around 200 copies to friends and neighbours and to interested libraries. The rest is sold over a period of 5-10 years.

Leonard ended by saying “Goa is a small market, an interesting market but the challenges are present and it is a fight to stay competitive”

Headline Makes for depressing reading

The business of selling books over the counter is a tough and at time depressing experience, given the online presence that promises discounts as well as delivers free of cost. Ajit John spoke to various publishers and book retailers to understand the problems and also to understand the fate of Goan book writers in these complicated time

The pleasure of reading a book is akin to inhaling fresh air on a mountain top. A lung full of invigorating oxygen reaching those corners never touched before. A good book full of fresh interesting ideas encourages thinking and debate. The book market in the country is expected to touch around Rs 730 billion plus by 2020 at a conservative estimate. Fuelled by new platforms like Amazon and other online sites, people are buying more books. What about Goa? Has the sale of bookstores remained steady or slumped due to the emergence of new entertainment platforms? Or has the sale of books moved online keeping in line with trends in other parts of the country.

Khalil Ahmed of Broadway was quite categorical when he said, sales had witnessed an increase over the last six months from the store. Khalil said” Flipkart has reduced its exposure in this market though Amazon has been selling used books a lot”. People in Goa he said still walked into the store to check the books on offer and picked them. Speaking of the online phenomenon, he said “Please remember it is only the international bestsellers that receive a great deal of publicity that are purchased online. The discounts are good too but remember, there are so many good books that you can come across in a book store only by browsing.”

Asked about the sale of books by Goan authors, he said, it all happened at book stores and never online. If there was a request for a book by a Goan author from abroad, it usually came via email. Goan books by Goan authors or on subjects relevant to the state evoked decent sales. Asked to give numbers, he said it would not be unusual to sell more than 100 books a week.

The other big store in Panjim, Crossword was witnessing decent sales though not as per the potential of the market. A sales executive not cleared to speak to the media said books were being purchased by visitors, non-resident goans and foreigners. The number of Goans visiting and buying books remained consistent right through the year, the executive said. With regards to books by Goan authors, the executive said that did not happen out of their outlet because they did not stock them.

Rakhee kapur of Literati was candid when she said business had been affected by the online phenomenon by as much as 30% to 35%. This she said was her guesstimate. The convenience of delivery coupled with the discounts was a major plus, especially in a place like Goa where transport was a problem. Amazon and Flipkart, she said had not made it a level bargaining field.

With regards to Goan authors, she said not much of sale happened online and if it did it was few and far in between.

Frederick Noronhafounder of the alternate publishing house, Goa 1556 however had a different song to sing. He said “Times have changed, we have to take books to the people and we have to bring it to them in surroundings that they are comfortable in. People are reading books in Goa; the young are reading. People in Goa are reading books by Goan authors and we make this possible by book launches, exhibitions etc. I have nothing to complain. I focus on non-fiction books and I am not complaining”. With regards to Konkani books he was candid when he said it was all over the counter because the idea of going online was a bit foreign for them.

Leonardo Fernandes of The Dogears Bookshop and Cinnamon Teal Publishing in Margao said the company had a presence online with some books present but for a large part it usually happened over the counter. Books by Goan authors he said would sell very well at the time of its release and then it tapers off. The company published around 10-15 books every year in English with a print run of around 500-1000. What must be remembered here is that almost all the books released in Goa are self-published. At the time of the launch it is not unusual to sell around 200 copies to friends and neighbours and to interested libraries. The rest is sold over a period of 5-10 years.

Leonard ended by saying “Goa is a small market, an interesting market but the challenges are present and it is a fight to stay competitive”

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