Sunday, December 18, 2005

Strand Book Stall Sale 2005

 As I blogged last month, the Strand Book Stall annual sale in Bangalore was something I was looking forward to. It was held at the Bangalore cricket stadium - Chinnaswamy Stadium - this year, with the promise of stunning views. More on the views in a future post however. I could go there only twice, on Saturday and Sunday, as I had to fly out on Monday morning, and would be out for the next two weeks. This year's sale was probably the most heavily attended, partly because of the front page advertising that Strand did in the days leading up to the sale. Another reason could be that this was probably the first year that they also advertised on FM.

The selection of books was very impressive indeed. The cookery section is not one I was too interested in, but for the sake of photography it does make for a good photo.

As the day, this one being Saturday, drew to a close, the line (sorry, is it called queue?) at the checkout counter grew longer. This photo, taken at 3pm, is proof enough!

Being a newly minted MBA (though not one formally... have to wait for the graduation ceremony in March 2006), I did get to see an example of the price-as-signal-of-quality theory. How? If you have heard of Geoffrrey Moore you would also have heard of his Chasm theory. This was the book that catapulted him to fame, glory, and probably riches too. He wrote a couple of other books after that; 'Inside the Tornado' and 'Living on the Fault Line'. All three books were available at the Strand sale. Crossing the Chasm was available as a paperback for about Rs 450. Inside the Tornado was available as a paperback for about Rs 400. Living on the Fault Line was selling for less than Rs 200, and that too the hardcover edition. Telling evidence of price signalling, perhaps inadvertently, quality. If you read all three books, you will realize that Crossing the Chasm is worth the money, and more. Inside the Tornado does repeat a lot of the same concepts, and has an overabundance of models thrown in, but it is still a passable read. Living on the Fault Line came at the height of the dot-com boom, and the book suffers from the malady that afflicted almost all authors at the time, good and mediocre, of falling prey to the seductiveness of the eyeballs-matter-bottom-line-does-not line. Moore is no different; the book becomes unreadable after the first few pages.

Almost everyone had a basketfull of books to buy...

I did miss a few books; conspicuous as they were by their absence. The sine-qua-non for people nowadays, 'The World Is Flat' by Thomas Friedman was one such exception. Till I was told by Swamy that copies had sold out within the first few hours on the first day of the sale itself, and that the book itself had gone in for a third re-print. Okay, so that book was absent for a different reason. I could not spot 'Built To Last' or 'Good To Great' by Jim Collins, or any volume of the 'he History and Culture of the Indian People' series, edited by R. C Majumdar. (

 © 2005, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, Nov 2012