Books trade: a flourishing business
Book trade business is rapidly growing in Chennai and both the distributors as well as retail stores are benefitting from this trend. Here, D Ramalingam delves more in this business in conversation with a major distributor and a retailer in Chennai.
The year 1995 saw the establishment of two majors in the Chennai book publishing industry – Alpha Land Books (a distributor) and Connexions (a retail outlet) and since then, both the companies are growing parallely.
Alpha Land Books – a well-known distributor in Chennai
As per NV Raghavan, managing director, Alpha Land books Pvt Ltd, the book trade in Chennai has grown rapidly, especially in last 2-3 years. Raghavan plunged into distributorship, after his 27 years experience with leading book & magazine distributors (India Book House). He was ably assisted by his son N R Pradip, a director in the company.
Raghavan saw the growth in book publishing, especially in Tamil and English books. Pradip chipped in that the reading habit has increased, even with the children, contrary to the general view. He particularly noticed a spurt in book publishing in Chennai in last 2-3 years as publishers from north are also foraying into this region.
Alpha Land offers books from publishers like Babaji Nagaraj, Himalayan Institute, Gita Press, DK Printworld, Delhi and all Tamil books of Art of Living by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to mention a few. Talking about their USP, Pradip told that correct payment to the suppliers and prompt delivery to retailers have been their hallmark, which has helped them to distribute books to all the 32 showrooms of Landmark, Higginbothams, Odyssey, Connexions and to whole of south India, besides Maldives.
To augment teir income and to enable new authors to publish their books, Alpha has forayed into publishing. They publish books in the areas of folklore, mini biographies, classic stories, English improvement, boredom busters and language learning. The books contain 120-200 pages each and are priced between Rs 45 to 60.
Connexions – a well know lifestyle chain in Chennai
Raghavan and PradipSimilarly, TS Ramachandran, managing director, Connexions, established this lifestyle showroom, serving the value & price-conscious customers for books, toys, music, gifts, stationeries and other product lines. He was ably assisted by his cousins – Sunder Natarajan and Vilva Natarajan, who brought rich experience from the US market. The concept of Connexions was to be a lifestyle oriented showroom with a strong community-oriented flavour. Strategically located at Anna Nagar, a 3,500 sq ft showroom was established with 15 employees.
The showroom at Anna Nagar, now a 10,500 sq ft facility, is well-maintained. According to PS Seshadri, CEO of Connexions, a lot of efforts are put to keep the ambience spick and span every minute and that really costs a lot of money. Ramachandran was upbeat about the progress Connexions made from inception. A family owned company, Connexions is well- managed by the MD and V Swaminathanwith strategic inputs and directions given by the other two directors – Sunder Natarajan and Vilva Natarajan.
Today, Connexions has multiple showrooms in Saligramam (3,000 sq ft), Coimbatore (5,500 sq ft), Mahindra World City (4,500 sq ft), Velachery (10,000 sq ft), Ashok Nagar (2,000 sq ft), Mogappair (6,000 sq ft) and Salem, Tamil Nadu (6,000 sq ft). Connexions is poised to grow and expand as the profitability is on the rise. With 250 employees and a turnover of Rs 30 crore, and with very few retailers available to meet the needs of local market, Connexions is poised to take a front-runner position in this market, with room to expand as the business grows.