“Selling books is not an easy business…but it’s not that difficult too”
says Sanjay Mago, CEO, sales and marketing, Om Books International in conversation with Smita Dwivedi at their opulent three-floor newly opened bookshop in Darya Ganj. He shared his unbiased opinion on books….business…and bestsellers. Om Books International is one of the largest English language trade publishers in the Indian subcontinent and has been a leading force in the Indian publishing and retail industry for several years. Headquartered in Noida, the company in over the last five decades; has established an international distribution network in the UK, the US, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, France and Spain. It has an equally well-established distribution network under the name of Om Book Shop in Delhi, Gurgaon, NOIDA, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
“We opened this unit on September 4, 2014 and it serves dual purpose – we use it mainly for trade and we attract genuine retail buyers as well. There are 3,00,000 books displayed covering myriad genres and authors. And there are over one lakh titles, which we have in our inventory. Darya Ganj is hub of book buyers and sellers, so we are enjoying this environment. But, we have not promoted this bookshop till now… as we are still in the process of improvisation. Nevertheless, it will be done in a big way, during NDWBF 2015, where we are planning several promotional activities to introduce Om Books- Darya Ganj to the whole industry.”
About his entry into this industry, Sanjay shared, “I was only 16, when I joined book business in 1980s, when things were very different from now. I learnt everything by my own real-life experience. There was never a second thought or another choice for me to do anything else, but today I eat, sleep and breathe books. In today’s world, in any field a person cannot be successful unless one has a passion for the job and I feel equally passionate about books.”
Sharing more about Om Books, he added, “We have published popular and literary fiction including best-selling titles like Two Mothers and Other Stories by Khalid Mohamed, Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu (Man Asian Literary Award, 2010), The Kept Woman and Other Stories by Kamala Das, Delhi OMG! by Vinod Nair, Newsroom Live by Prabhat Shunglu, The Company RED by Shantanu Dhar, to name just a few. Amongst other genres, several cinema-related titles (under the imprint Spotlight) including Still Reading Khan by Mushtaq Shiekh; Shah Rukh Can by Mushtaq Shiekh; AR Rahman: The Spirit of Music, an authorised conversational biography by Nasreen Munni Kabir; I’ll Do It My Way: The Incredible Journey Of Aamir Khan by Christina Daniels; Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam: The Original Screenplay compiled by Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari; The Original Screenplays of Lage Raho Munna Bhai and 3 Idiots; Bollywood in Posters by SMM Ausaja (shortlisted for Vodafone Crossword Award 2010 for non-fiction) are published.”
“We create bestselling authors, instead of buying bestsellers. For example, the book The Mahabharata Secret by Christopher C Doyle was a great hit. We do promote such books as they offer experiences besides expanding one’s knowledge.”
It is evident that reading habits have declined drastically over last decade. But according to Sanjay, one should always look for growth options, no matter whether the situations are favorable or not. That is why Om Books also publishes monographs and co-editions on art and architecture and photo essays. And other categories that feature in their publishing list are fashion and lifestyle, biographies, narrative non-fiction, mind, body, spirit, cookery and children’s books (under the imprint OmKidz.) Currently, they have eight bookshops in Delhi/NCR and planning to have more. Om Book Shop is a part of Om Books International, which has been a leading force in the Indian book market for several years.
“We have about 1,00,000 registered customers with the Om Book Privilege Loyalty Programme which offers them points, exclusive discounts and special offers. We also aim to popularize the Gift-a-book idea across our stores and deliver services like Dial-a-book which allows the customers to shop from their homes; and the efficient and helpful staff in the book stores assisting them in finding the right book or the right gift for the right occasion,” he added.
The conversation would have been incomplete without asking his views on online vs. brick and mortar bookshops and Sanjay shared, “Yes, online book selling has affected our retail sales. Huge discounts that are being offered online has to be taken seriously as it’s ill-practice. We need publishers’ support as well. We need to have certain guidelines to fix minimum price of a book. There should be a competition between offline and online sellers, but it has to be healthy. And premium products should never be offered with huge discounts as it makes real unpleasant situation for book retailers.”
“Selling books is not an easy business, but it is not difficult too,” he concluded.