Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rupa - the Paper Tiger

Reading books is good. Making people read books is better, says Rupa’s Kapish Mehra

Kishore Biyani was in unfamiliar territory in 2006-2007. He had written a book, It Happened in India, and was evaluating publishers. He was in talks with a couple of publishing houses who wanted to work with him. But they told him that they would do a print run of 10,000 copies and price the book at Rs. 199. Biyani balked at the suggestion. Now, Biyani is not a man who thinks small. His Big Bazaar chain caters to lakhs of Indians who love a good bargain. Biyani wanted all these consumers to read his book. He knew that there was no way these people would pay Rs. 199 for a book. And 10,000 copies? Were they joking? He wanted a publisher who thought as big as him. Enter Rupa Publications’ Managing Director Kapish Mehra.

Rupa and Biyani reached an agreement. The first print run was two lakh copies. The book was priced at Rs. 99.

It Happened in India sold over three lakh copies. “Typically we look at books that can sell us a lakh of copies,” says the unassuming Mehra sitting in his office in Delhi’s Daryaganj area, “when we see that the content is right and the target audience is clear.”

Mehra knows his market: The growing number of people who want to read English books. English has always been a language for business communication in India. Now it is also gaining popularity as a general purpose language. Everyone from drivers, watchmen and house maids want to speak the language. “Everybody wants to speak in English as it adds to their skill set. Over the years we feel that the need to speak in English is only going to grow and this can be seen from the growth of our students,” says Aslam Moosa, CEO, Speakwell Academy. Speakwell has experienced a 100 percent growth in the number of students over the last five years.

Full report here Forbes

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