Showing posts from 2009

Bangalore Book Festival 2009

For the first time I was on the other side of the table in a book festival and it turned out to be a lot of fun. The feeling when somebody finally, after a lot of deliberation picks up a book and says that he wants to buy it, the whole money exchange ritual which happens after that, seeing people find something to smile about or laugh at in one of the books - all of them make it worth while to sit jobless behind the counter for hours. So while as an exhibitor I quite enjoyed it, I don't think it was particularly great for a real book lover. There was nothing that you could not find in the few book shops around Church Street, it was choke full of religious stalls and despite the tall claims, almost all major Indian publishers were absent - Rupa, Harper Collins, Random Hous e, Hachette India, Westland, Rajpal being the once who come to mind. I remember seeing Katha stall also but even they were missing this time. So at the end of it all, you end up in the same old stalls - Blossoms,

Ownership is the key!

This article about Room To Read in Business Week caught my attention, (through a Google Alert set up on Self Publishing). Specifically the last paragraph which I reproduce here: While Room to Read's accomplishments so far are quite impressive, John isn't satisfied. Children aren't using the libraries enough. Of the 5.6 million books in the libraries, only 1.3 million have been checked out so far. So Wood's local teams are working with schools to make the library experience more compelling to children. Self-publishing content is another piece of the strategy. The more books the organization can publish in local languages that are sculpted for young readers in those places, the more likely they'll want to read them. Unfortunately, it costs about $12,000 per book for writing, editing, and printing expenses. While generating more engaging content, content tailored to local culture, environment and in local languages is very important, I think there is one more importa

Couple of WTFs to set the ball rolling again!

Slumdog star Rubina to pen biography! While I am all for people trying to make use of the popularity of these kids for good cause (the proceeds from the book will go to some charity in.. France!), this is stretching it too much. She is all of 9 years old. Somebody applied to our company with this cover letter: I am writing to apply for any job opening is there in your company. ... I believe my education, skills and experiences fit your requirements... Again, don't get me wrong. I know searching for a job can be quite tough but then you have to keep your game up in the tough times and not write such sloppy letters. If you are applying to "any" job, how does your "education, skills and experiences fit our requirement"? Regular programming will resume in a while!

The Seagate Contest

I went to the BlogCamp Bangalore few days back and listened to some of the talks. A nice talk by Ashish Gupta of Helion Ventures was the highlight of the day for me. Another interesting thing was a contest being run by Seagate who were the main sponsors of the event. They have launched FreeAgent External Hard Drives in the capacities of 500GB and 1TB. Now that is a lot of space! Challenge is to come up with a creative use for all this space. What immediately come to my mind is a book mobile. A book mobile is a van that is Internet enabled and has print-on-demand equipment on board (a b/w printer, a color printer, a binder and a trimmer). The van goes around and prints books for people who want them. The biggest problem for deploying this van into more rural areas in the availability of Internet. But with the huge space available with Seagate FreeAgent drives, we can put all the available books - from Internet Archive, from Project Gutenberg, Wikipedia, from Digital Library of India - o

Two quick tips for image refreshing and download dialogue

As we are moving to use more and more "AJAX" on, I keep learning new things everyday some of which really entertain me :-). So let me put them down here. How to make sure that an image refreshes from server and not from cache? Suppose you have an img tag and the file in its src attribute is being updated on the server through a ajax call. Now we have to make sure that when the src file changes, the image on the page is also refreshed. On its own, the browser will simply use the version of the file in the cache. To avoid that, you can simply attach a GET query to the end of the image url. So src="test.png" becomes something like - src="test.png?random=<any randomly generated string>". For the random string you can use the surrent time stamp. Short and sweet :-) How to show a download dialogue for files that browser usually opens without asking? Browsers usually have a mapping of MIME types and applications. If they get data of a particular m


"तुम भी प्रियतम?" "अब छोड तुम्हे मुझको आगे जाना होगा, अब नयी मंजिलें रह रह पास बुलाती हैं। अब तुमसे जोडा नाता बंधन सा लगता, अब नयी सुबह कुछ नये क्षितिज दिखलाती है।" "अलविदा प्रिये!" ------------------------------------------------- "तज कर अतीत को और भविष्य पर दर्ष्टि जमा,  जीवन पथ पर आगे को मैं बढ आया हूं। हाथों के बंधन पैरों के कांटों बदले, टूटे वादों की किर्चें संग ले आया हूं। अब नये स्वप्न मानो आंखों मे चुभते हैं, अब नयी दिशा, अंजान डगर सहमाती हैं। अब द्रढ निश्चय से मेरा कोई साथ नही, ना नयी चुनौती अब उत्साह जगाती है। किस तरह से अब कोई नया नाता जोडूं? नाता फ़िर से एक दिन बंधन बन जायेगा। और तोड के बंधन फ़िर आगे जाना होगा, क्या यूंही अभागा ये जीवन कट जायेगा?"

Book Retailing in India

It has been long since e-commerce made its debut in India but it is still to catch on in a major way. The absence of Amazon from Indian market is a major indication that it is not yet considered a lucrative enough market by big players. A lot has been said about it, tons of research papers written, lots of  workshops/panels have probably discussed it to death. I have not read any of them and so pardon me if what I am going to say sounds very amateurish. As somebody who is betting on a business model that has Internet distribution at its core, it is very important for me to understand why e-commerce has not caught on in India and what would it take? There is a first obvious bunch of reasons that comes to mind - lack of broadband penetration, lack of good online payment mechanisms ( which includes lack of widespread credit card use and absolutely pathetic state of Indian payment gateways), lack of good logistic providers ( some are way too costly while others are simply not

OCC Bangalore

10:30 AM on Sunday mornings. That is the time when Open Coffee Club Bangalore meets at some pre-selected venue - usually a nice and cozy coffee shop or a newly-opened-looking-for-some-exposure restaurant. It is a great way of finding out good places to have coffee and off beat food. For example, I discovered Tam's in Koramangala through one of the meets. While for me this is a good enough reason to get up every alternate Sunday mornings and head to OCC meet, you might find the entrepreneurship aspect of OCC more alluring. Essentially OCC comprises of folks who are somehow related to entrepreneurship, startups, ecosystem - those sort of things and cannot afford to drink on Sunday mornings. So they (me included) end up getting together and talk about issues that affect us, opportunities that we can use and generally get to know each other. The diversity of the group is amazing. A sample of people from the most recent meet in ZOE, Indiranagar - A chartered Accountant, A fashion and im

Demopits' experiences at Headstart 09

I went to see the demo pits of Headstart 2009 at the NIMHANS convention center in Bangalore today. It was nice of the organizers to make these free thus providing good opportunities of interaction to the participating companies and also showing poor entrepreneurs like me that they care ;). Over to the companies, there were some really nice ones. I found the demo from Artin Dynamic most cute (I know that is probably not a compliment a startup expects but can't help it). Basically how about having a power supply with a USB interface to the CPU. Now when the CPU is off, it basically cuts off the power supply thus eliminating the zombie usage completely. The product is called SPARA. Nice! Then there were two companies that seem to be doing NLP analysis of the data in order to get structure out of them. One of them was alertpedia which monitors some selected websites in order to match the new additions against structured queries specified by the users. Whenever a match occurs, the use

Recession kills the small guys first!

Found this on a forum. In the time of recession the first casualties are the small guys. Although the common sense says that the first casualties should be the big guys - small guys don't have investors on their backs pushing for growth at all costs, they are more flexible and adaptable to situations and so on. But the fact remains that all the systems are build for the advantage of big guns and it is with great difficulty that individuals or small publishers make their way in. So when the crunch time comes, they are the first ones to be thrown off the boat. So the question arises - how do we build a recession proof distribution channel for the individual authors? Of course Amazon is already one option but how can we go beyond Amazon? And what about a country like India where digital divide is so huge - how can we use all the technology at our disposal and make publishing/books available to those who don't have access to it and miss it the most? We've seen something devasta