Monday, November 21, 2005

The World is Flat

Yes, this is the name of the book I am currently reading. And there is a story behind this book too!

I usually do not buy pirated books. Even more so, since I started earning my living. It was completely not out of copyright violation hatred, but more from quality-of-the-book point of view. The pirated books (or more correctly, illegally printed books) have lousy print quality. The book seller does not guarantee that the book will actually turn out to have complete 342 pages (which incidentally happens to be the last page-number). He will not guarantee that each page will be different (as it should be) even though the page count is correct. He will not guarantee many things, but he will convince you that you get value for your money anyway, and you [literally] walk away from the road-side book stall a happy person in the end.

This happened on last Saturday:

I was returning home from a rather late lunch with my roomie. Along the dug-up walkways of the airport road, Bangalore, I saw this particular book seller. I stopped by just to check the best-seller list of the week (or month) - the roadside book sellers seem to know the current New York Times bestseller book list by heart. So as I was looking at the title, I saw Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat". This book surely is making waves these days, but I did not expect it to be spotted at such a shop.

I had almost no money in my pocket. Just out of curiosity, I asked the book seller fellow, what the deal was. Now be aware that this kid is no literature critique, nor obsessed with any author's creativity. He is just there, standing in Sun, day (and night ;)) to sell the books and get some money out of it. This fellow picked up this book, skipped through the pages, looked at the back cover- front cover a couple of times, and declared, "two-fifty saar ".

The way he came up to this price was amusing. He had nothing to do with what the book was all about, nor did the author's name ring any bell in his head. He gave me an odd look : Sir, nobody buys such books, why are you so keen? (You could try Harold Robbins if you like).

I had not much money in my pocket after the lunch, so I was trying to think of a ridiculous amount for the deal expecting to quit sooner. I thought one hundred would be good enough, and said, "two fifty is too high. How about one hundred?" and I kept the book back in its place.

To my surprise, this bookseller fellow replied, "Last call : one twenty?" He had come down by more than fifty percent of the price! I insisted, "no, hundred is right".

Perhaps this fellow thought, well, nobody has ever asked price of this book before. Maybe this is a flop. Who knows if anybody will ever buy it! He said, "OK, one hundred it is then".

It was time for me to be surprised now. I didn't have that much money left in my pocket after a hearty meal. I looked at my roomie. Luckily he had two notes, and we walked away with a good deal.

The world may be flat, but well, the prices on the roadside bookstalls are indeed never so...

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