Sterling Publishers
Vol. 2 No. 12 November 2008
ONE TO ONE - Aggressive single mindedness is the foremost requisite to be successful – Kamal Ahuja - Talks to S. K. Ghai about Impulse Marketing, its growth over the years and its future plans.
Tata Group all set to make a comeback
IRJA decides to contribute 20% book fair earnings to Bihar flood victims
Project ‘Books on Wheels' launched
Mega-merger between LexisNexis Butterworths of Britain and Wadhwa Nagpur
German Book Centre of Madras closes
ACK Media launches exclusive lounge for Suppandi & Shikari Shambu
Central Hindi Directorate invites Hindi Books and Magazines for purchase
Row over Online Books resolved
Print On Demand Books
Afghanistan's biggest bookseller goes Online
Times of India gets ‘Best of the Best' award for Indian vegetarian masterpiece
Dear Publishing Professionals,

The Frankfurt Book Fair, the Mecca and Medina of the book industry was held in October this year under the cloud of a world financial crisis that could not be cleared away even by its celebrity list of writers and politicians. According to a recent survey of 90 German publishers, business was down 3%. Number of exhibitors too was scarce compared to last year’s turnout.

The German Book Office, which recently started in India, organised several programs which brought a smile on the face of Indian participants. Of the well-attended events was A Look at India, an event presented by CAPEXIL in collaboration with GBO, New Delhi. There were two author readings; one by Jaishree Mitra who read from her first novel Ancient Promises as well as her latest novel Rani and the other reading was by Baby Halder who read in Bengali from her novel A Life Less Ordinary. The Ministry of External Affairs (India) brought out a special issue of India Perspectives dedicated exclusively to the Indian book publishing industry. The issue was released by Ajit Kumar, India’s Consul General during the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Unlike earlier years, from the past few years the duration of the Frankfurt Book Fair has been reduced by a day – the fair begins on a Wednesday and concludes on a Sunday. But participants feel that if the fair could start on a Tuesday and conclude on a Saturday, it would not miss out on all the important and distinguished visitors who bid farewell to Frankfurt on either Friday or Saturday to enjoy their weekend.

This year Turkey was the Guest of Honour and in 2009 China will be the Guest of Honour country.

The recent meltdown in the US has spread its wings to various corners of the world and has not left the Indian Publishing industry untouched. In spite of our Prime Minister and Finance Minister assuring us that we would not be hit by this meltdown, big names in the publishing industry like Crossword, Oxford Bookstore, Books & Beyond and Starmark are already feeling the heat. The number of visitors has dipped across stores translating into a corresponding decline in sales. Not only did the companies cut down on corporate gifting this Diwali, recruitment plans too have been withheld. Professionals though are of the view that it is the essential commodities that will be hit harder than leisure items like books.

The Commerce Ministry is concerned about the sharp decline in export growth. Commerce Secretary, G. K. Pillai said that they were working to provide a relief package for exporters and that it would be submitted to the finance ministry in the next couple of days. Let us hope it comes soon.

This month I interviewed Mr Kamal Ahuja, a young enterprising, self-made, marketing professional of Impulse Marketing – a unique organisation of direct marketing.

Aggressive single mindedness is the foremost requisite to be successful – Kamal Ahuja
Talks to S. K. Ghai about Impulse Marketing, its growth over the years and its future plans.

Q. You are a successful direct marketing professional. How and when did you enter this field and how has your journey been so far?
I was in my final year of graduation, B.Sc. (Hons) Statistics at Delhi University, when by sheer luck I was selected as a door-to-door salesman by a wholesale warehousing company. They were dealing in all types of products including children books. It turned out to be an interesting vocation and I started concentrating more on this rather than my studies. I was doing fairly well when I was asked to shift to Kolkata in 1994. So I left Delhi with Rs 200 in my pocket and went to Kolkata. Life was tough but interesting, which kept me excited. I moved to Bhubhaneshwar in early 1995 and was made a distributor. This resulted in not appearing for my final year exams. By 1996 I was successful in opening four more branches / distributors in Orissa. During this time the company started importing goods from China which were of an inferior quality and thus started the downward trend in the company and it finally wound up its operations in the year 2000. It was during this time that six of us – Mr Som, Mr Sanjay Bakshi, Mr Manish Anand, Mr K. N. Shaji, Mr Sanjay Chowdhury and myself who had become close friends, decided to form our own partnership concern. Mr Som moved to Delhi and I stayed back in Kolkata. In between I also went to Bangladesh for four months (where I lost 8 kgs!). We started marketing dictionaries, encyclopedias and children books and the rest is history. All kinds of qualities are required to make a successful businessperson but aggressive single mindedness is the foremost requisite to be successful! This single mindedness was shared by us all.

Q. Share with us the methodology of your working.
We go to people individually, show our product and then sell it. We have a network of 180 distributors having around 4000 salesmen who take 10 to 15 copies of a title and go to the people. Our main work is to motivate the distributors who in turn motivate the salesmen. Our offices start at 8:30 a.m., followed by the training session from 8:30 to 10:30. All salesmen are out in the field by 11 a.m. and are back by 6:30 p.m., for a debriefing session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., where each salesman then presents their daily report. We are what we are today, not because of what we do today, but because of what all we have done in the last ten years.

Q. What is the selection process for recruitment in your organization? Are the marketing persons on a salary or commission or both?
None of our employees are on salary. We work on a commission basis. We are always on the look out for ambitious people who are ever ready to learn and grow. It is our belief that if you want to succeed you will actually start succeeding!

Q. You do not market to trade. Any particular reason?
We were conceived as a direct marketing company and our strength lies in training and motivating salesmen and reaching out to the people.

Q. What is the ratio of fixing the MRP of a title to cost?
We believe in generating higher sales and keeping our margin to the minimum. We give 50 percent discount to the customer; 10 percent of the net price goes to the salesman, 15 percent to the distributor and 12.5 percent is given to the Head Office.

Q. To which countries do you export your products and what marketing strategy do you follow there?
The distributors who have been successful with us in India are moved to different markets. We have our distributors in Nepal, Bangladesh, UAE, Philippines and Sri Lanka. It is our own team which is marketing the product in these countries so we face no problems in exports.

Q. How many titles do you select in a year?
We select 2 to 3 titles in a year. Till now we have marketed only 20 titles and out of them 30 to 35 percent are on the active list even now. We have sold many titles – over 1 million copies since we started operations. For e.g., Family Encyclopedia by Penguin and Illustrated Dictionary by DK have sold more than a million copies and are still selling.

Q. What type of study do you conduct before selecting a title?
In all these years we have learnt one thing – to make a product successful it should appeal to the masses and be of good quality. So we ensure that the title is meant for the masses and the quality is excellent. That is why we deal only with a few but standard publishers.

Q. With which publishers are you currently working and what sort of volumes do you initially commit?
We deal with standard publishing houses like Oxford University Press, Penguin Group, DK, Webster, etc., and our minimum commitment is between 50,000 to 100,000 copies initially.

Q. Any such experience when you were not able to meet the expected commitment and how did you handle the situation?
We have never been in such a situation. With a team of more than 3500 door-to-door salesmen, only an average of 10 copies come to each one which is not such a big number. In fact, we are always short of stocks.

Q. What are your views on the impact of globalization on marketing?
I feel that marketing has become very competitive today. So many players, all using different kinds of strategies which sometimes are a big annoyance to the consumers but it brings much more benefit to the consumers who today are more aware and have a lot of choices. Also there is less possibility of them being cheated. Globalization at the end of the day has increased consumer awareness, choices, and possibilities.

Q. Marketing is a challenging profession. Any comments?
I think every product and profession is a challenging one. It depends on how creative or imaginative one is in exposing it to the masses. The key to success is being fearless and confident and then give it your best.

Q. What are your plans for the next five years?
Definitely to give thrust to exports and expanding to more countries such as the Far East, Malaysia, Singapore, Gulf and to the African countries. It is our endeavour to provide more choices to our consumers.

Q. Have you thought of publishing or developing your own product?
Not yet.

Q. I noticed that your visiting card does not have your designation on it. Any particular reason?
One of the most unique things about our business is that everyone involved in it from the bottom to the top has started this business from scratch. We still consider ourselves door-to-door salesmen.

Q. Do you have any Guru or role model?
I began my career as a door-to-door salesman and learnt everything from scratch. In my journey so far I have come face to face with all sorts of people – interesting and fascinating as well as indifferent and disinterested. And I have learnt from both kinds, though stories of some of them have remained with me and such people I consider my Gurus and role models.

Q. Any memorable experience you would like to share with us?
Like I mentioned earlier, some stories remain cemented in your memories. This is one of them. During my salesman days, I used to visit a particular gentleman, once a month, who would buy the same book every month. One day out of curiosity I asked him, “What do you do with so many copies of the same title?” He paused for a moment and then opened a bookshelf. Right there, lined in a row were all the copies that he had purchased from me. Not knowing what to say I stared at him to which he said, “I did not have the heart to refuse you. I wanted to encourage you.”

Q. What comprises your typical working day?
I reach office around 10:30 a.m., each day; I make calls to various distributors, around ten of them and have discussions with them regarding their queries and doubts.

Q. Do you find time to read or study?
I love to read about different cultures. I do not get time to read when I am in Delhi so I do my reading while I am traveling.

Q. How would you describe a good book?
A good book is one which is easy to read and go through, interesting in its approach, has lots of elements of surprise and creates curiosity in the mind of the reader.

Q. Your message to all the upcoming marketing and sales persons.
Here I would like to quote the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, “Champions are not made in gyms; champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill. My advice to all is, work sincerely, honestly, with integrity and enthusiasm and always remember the best is yet to come!

Kamal Ahuja can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tata Group all set to make a comeback
After exiting the book publishing business earlier this year, when they sold their stake in Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company to McGraw-Hill, the Tata Group now plans to re-enter publishing in a big way. Among its plans is to publish titles of all genres under the name of Westland Ltd – a listed company wholly owned by Trent, and to be among the top five book publishers in India in 3 years.

IRJA decides to contribute 20% book fair earnings to Bihar flood victims

The Indian Regional Journalist Association (IRJA) has decided to contribute 20 percent collection from the 16-day National Book Fair to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

IRJA president, Chandra Bhushan announced the creation of a corpus fund for writers, litterateurs, poets and journalists as well. “Twenty percent of the collections will go to set up this corpus fund. Interest drawn by this fund would be utilised for helping authors. Those becoming members of IRJA will get insurance cover of Rs 50,000. For the first year, IRJA would pay the installments,” he added. Over 52 publishers from across the country are participating in the fair.

Project ‘Books on Wheels’ launched
In an endeavour to bring books to people’s doorsteps, 45-year-old engineer and entrepreneur, Pankaj Kurulkar launched his ambitious ‘Books-on-Wheels’ project recently.

To begin with, ten mobile vans have been deployed at various vantage points of Mumbai, especially where the book distribution mechanism is poor. In the next six months, Kurulkar plans to have 20 more vans in 27 districts of Maharashtra to sell books published in 22 Indian languages. Nationwide expansion will depend on how much private equity Kurulkar succeeds in raising. He has already set himself targets of growth – 100 mobile bookshops in a year and 1,000 in three years, covering a majority of the states in the country.

Mega-merger between LexisNexis Butterworths of Britain and Wadhwa Nagpur
LexisNexis Butterworths of Britain has merged with India’s leading law book publishers Wadhwa of Nagpur. This move will enable them to play a crucial role in judicial and legal reforms in India.

Commenting on the merger, Robert Rigby-Hall, Senior Vice-President (Human Resources), LexisNexis Group and Managing Director of LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa Nagpur said, “The combined company will help to provide richer, more comprehensive solutions to the Indian legal industry including integrated content from key markets such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.”

The Wadhwa Brothers of Wadhwa Nagpur said, “The merger will add significant value to the Indian legal market and enable us to serve the global legal communities in India more effectively.”
German Book Centre of Madras closes
It was a farewell with a difference; R. Seshadri decided to celebrate his fifty years in the publishing industry by selling his last business interest in publishing – the German Book Center, Madras to a Delhi publishing house.

The store was started in 1982 by Seshadri, who got interested in German as a hobby after visiting the Frankfurt Book Fair regularly. The store represented leading German publishers whose books were in demand in the IITs, Goethe Institutes and various universities. For several years, it was the only distributor in India and Sri Lanka for learning material in German, be it for language or technical studies.

ACK Media launches exclusive lounge for Suppandi & Shikari Shambu
Samir Patil, CEO of ACK Media has planned an exclusive lounge with comic characters Suppandi & Shikari Shambu at retail stores and bookstores in malls and even on mobile phones. “We are willing to invest in retail as kids these days frequently visit malls and other formats of modern retail. We are also looking optimistically at television, internet and mobile media,” said Patil. Over the next six months the company has plans to set up 15 to 20 shop-in-shops called ACK Lounge. The first such shop which opened recently in Hyderabad in association with Odyssey bookstore is spread across 200 sq feet.

Central Hindi Directorate invites Hindi Books and Magazines for purchase
Central Hindi Directorate distributes Hindi books and magazines free of cost to educational institutions and voluntary Hindi organisations situated in the non-Hindi speaking areas of the country. For this purpose, it has decided to purchase standard Hindi magazines and popular books, original as well as translation pertaining to literature, humanities and science. Under this scheme entries are invited from Writers & Publishers for the year 2008-09. In accordance with the terms and conditions the submitted book must have been published during the last five years and the last date of receipt of books and magazines is 30 November 2008. For the complete terms and conditions and any other details contact: Assistant Director (Distribution) Central Hindi Directorate, Min. of Human Resource Development (Dept. of Higher Education), West Block No-7, R. K. Puram, New Delhi-110 066.

Row over Online Books resolved
A landmark settlement was reached between Google and authors and publishers in order to make millions of books available online. The deal was struck at a $125 million payout followed by the termination of lawsuits filed by companies including Penguin.

This settlement was reached following two years of negotiations between the parties. It will mark the end of two lawsuits against the Google Book Search tool.

Print On Demand Books
Online retailer will soon be offering Print-on-Demand (POD) books to its customers. The idea behind this was to effectively ensure that titles were “always in-stock”. The publishers who signed up to the scheme include Faber and Faber, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, HarperCollins UK, Cambridge University Press, Sterling Publishers India, and Allen and Unwin, Australia.

Afghanistan’s biggest bookseller goes Online
The biggest bookseller in Afghanistan, Shah Muhammad Rais, decided to expand his business by launching a website:

He once traveled to remote areas of the country hawking books out of a bus; he gave up his mobile book business in 2006 due to increasing violence and security problems. Rais, who has an engineering degree, has been involved in the book trade for 35 years. He claims to have the world’s largest collection of books on Afghanistan in major international languages and says he wants his countrymen to redevelop the reading habit. His store in Kabul – Shah M Book Co., is a treasure-trove of nearly 1 million copies. “There will be a crisis in the availability of books if something happens or the country collapses. So it is very important that we start marketing our books online,” he said.

Times of India gets ‘Best of the Best’ award for Indian vegetarian masterpiece
Adjudged the ‘Oscars’ of food writing, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, the only international event of its kind saw another Indian being awarded. Rashmi Uday Singh’s Around the World in 80 Plates was judged the ‘Best of the Best’ among vegetarian books this year. The cookbook features recipes from renowned international chefs. The book had already won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award in 2005 but this prize was very special. “You won’t find such elaborate, structured recipes anywhere for vegetarian cuisine,” says Singh. “And I’m really proud that a book from India has been singled out for such an honour.”

Ved Prakash has joined Encyclopedia Britannica (India) as Marketing Manager from 13 October 2008. He has over 15 years of working experience in the publishing industry of which he spent 5 years in Oxford University Press. We wish him luck.

Zubaan books has shifted to a new address:
ZUBAAN, 128 B Shahpur Jat, First Floor, New Delhi – 110 049

M/s. Orient Longman Private Limited, has changed its name to Orient Blackswan Private Ltd, with effect from 1 September 2008.

Thomson Learning, recently changed its name to Cengage Learning. It has three major business units: Academic and Professional Group, English Language Teaching (ELT) and Library Reference (Cengage Gale).


Random House India is looking for a Managing Editor who will manage the production schedule, liase with copyeditors and proofreaders, and collate proofs. We are looking for someone who is experienced, efficient and has an eye for detail. Interested candidates send in your CV to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


The following positions are currently open with Sterling Publishers
for their paperback division:

EDITORIAL: We require candidates proficient in written and spoken English with an eye for detail, preferably with previous experience in the publishing industry.

Remuneration will be competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience of the candidate.

Interested candidates are requested to send their updated CVs mentioning expected salary within 10 days to:

The Chief Editor, Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd, A-59, Okhla
Industrial Area, Phase II, New Delhi 110 020; Tel: 26387070;
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


A fast growing publishing house requires:

Editors Copy Editors
Proof Readers DTP Operators
Sales Executives

A good command of English is a must. Excellent Salary. Apply to: Ane Books Pvt., Ltd, 4821/24, Ansari Road, Daryganj, New Delhi-110 002

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