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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Friday, April 08, 2005

BORDERS - Bookstore or a Library?

US bookstore BORDERS has an outlet in Orchard Road here. Since I’m addicted to Magazines I do visit Borders almost every weekend. In the larger interest of readers Borders is open till 12 midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. On the rest of the days they are open till 11pm. Unlike Indian bookstores (like Crossword, Landmark, Higginbothams etc), Borders allows customers to freely browse their magazines and books. In sharp contrast, the Indian bookstores would have wrapped international magazines like Time, Newsweek, Economist, Fortune, Forbes, BusinessWeek in a plastic wrapper and put a fancy price tag (often in the range of INR 100 – 200). These books are out of the reach of the average Indian reader and hence can be found only in big libraries.

I felt that Borders must be foolish in allowing free access to magazines / books. If they allow free browsing of magazines then people might not buy it. In order to provide a better reading experience Borders has even provided seating area (Couches & benches) adjacent to the magazine section. Why is Borders doing like this? IMO although they might be losing money because of lower magazine sales they will be able to attract footfalls by offering such facilities. These book lovers might be tempted by some of the Offers / Promotions and might end up buying (impulse purchase) some of these higher priced books (the margins on these books might make up for the revenue loss arising out of lower magazine sales). The seating area is packed even around 11pm on weekends. Some people don’t mind the pain and prefer to stand while reading these magazines. Some people read entire books sitting inside the shop. Makes me wonder whether it is Bookstore or a Library.

This photo was taken around 11pm on a Saturday evening.


Indian Books in Singapore
It was very unusual to find Indian books (the ones printed in India) in Singapore bookstores. Last year I tried frantically to get a copy of the book Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat (Publisher – Rupa & Co.). This book got a lot of publicity in the Indian media. The book was not sold by any of the bookstores here. Finally I had to ask to parents to courier it from India.

Star Dust
Last week I saw an Indian book called Star Dust (I’m not talking about the Indian film magazine) featured in the New Arrivals section of BORDERS. The book has been authored by Roopa Swaminathan and published by Penguin India (priced @ INR 275). I had not heard of this book before. Even after Googling I found very few references to this book. It has been launched in Feb 2005. Although the book is a bit pricey by Indian standards, it gives a good glimpse of the inside view of the Indian film industry. The author has spoken to lot of film industry folks and captured the lives of dancers, extras, technicians, film fan associations, assistant directors & actors. Most of the examples are from Kollywood and Bollywood. The book has extensive references to the success stories of actor Vikram and director Dharani. After reading the book I came to know that Vikram and Dharani were classmates (not mine!) at my alma mater.

The author mentions that one Tamil actor charges Rs. 4 crores for each movie and allocates Rs. 1 crore to fan clubs so that they can buy tickets for the movie and help in running the movie to the magical 100 day mark. Who could this be? Why do they adopt such cheap tactics? When will they learn? Deccan Herald had carried a write-up about this book.

New Singapore Dream

The next book I read was New Singapore Dream by Moh Hon Meng. Hon Meng urges the readers to stop complaining about what’s going on around us and encourages them to become entrepreneurs by thinking “Out of the Box”.

Rules of Work by Richard Templar

Since I didn’t have time I could not read this book. Rules of Work is one of the current bestsellers in the Business category. Most of the current books have jazzy cover pages. I was quite impressed by the Cover page of “Rules of Work” as it had a classic style to the cover page. Will write more about this book after I finish reading it.


  • It is a common in the US / West to encourage visitor to lounge and browse through the magazines and other books. It is just another way of saying "We Welcome" you. Barnes & Noble (B&N) is another chain that has a similar ambience. I would be very surprised if someone visit Border all the time, every week just to read the mags?

    By Blogger Venky Krishnamoorthy, at 1:02 AM  

  • Venky,

    We don't have B&N here. Borders is the only shop doing so. Lot of teenagers (school/college students) turn up to read the latest Fashion / Technology / Automobile magazines.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 1:11 AM  

  • I guess that you in your infinite wisdom and acquired knowledge know better about profit margins than do "Borders" or "Barnes and Nobles" or "gmail" about profit margins when they give and let you do stuff for free.

    Why don't you join these multi-billion companies as a consultant?

    By Blogger Liyer, at 7:51 AM  

  • Crowd at 11 pm..Unbelievable..
    Borders..in my wishlist now..

    By Blogger Adaengappa !!, at 9:35 AM  

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