VIEW FROM THE STANDS: Sachin apos;s Book Is A Boost For Stricken Sellers
Amid the global publicity blitz of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar's autobiography Playing It My Way, which made it to the New York Times bestsellers' list last week, something very unusual for a sports book happened recently, though the incident was not widely reported.
A website put the PDF format of all 514 pages of the book online, shocking the publishers.
Many Tendulkar fans quickly downloaded the PDF version, before the publishers got the website to remove the content.
It was an incident that sent shockwaves throughout the publishing world and was perhaps a warning signal for the industry, which is now under threat from modern technology.
The readership — who are buying hard copies of books — took a huge hit after the internet arrived close to 20 years ago, followed by the launch of tablets that encourage people to read books on the move.
Sachin in publicity mode with his wife Anjali and his elder brother Ajit
And the latest threat comes from e-book websites and the likes of Amazon, Flipkart and SnapDeal, which sell sports books, amongst a wide variety of products, at a much lower price than the printed figure.
Despite being priced at Rs 899, Playing It My Way shattered all global records in the pre-order segment - so far, close to 300,000 copies have been sold, rockfishlax.com making it the biggest-selling non-fiction book in Indian history.
But what's of concern — even for its publishers Hachette India — is the speed at which the book's price has come down on the websites that are selling it.
Amazon's price is Rs 540, Flipkart is offering it at Rs 560, and Landmark at Rs 602.
Theo Braganza, owner of the 58-year-old Marine Sports in Mumbai, the only sports book shop in India and one of only three in the world, says these websites have crippled the sports publishing business and admitted that survival has now become difficult for his ilk.
Images of 'Master Blaster' Sachin Tendulkar in his book
"Websites like Amazon, Flipkart and SnapDeal have affected sales by about 90 per cent. I'm telling you: it's a huge number. I would have sold 500 to 600 copies of Sachin's autobiography, if not for these websites," Braganza, who took over the business from his father in 1972, told Mail Today.
"I sold 100 copies of Sachin's book within a week. But a lot of my customers are disheartened because the same book is available at a much lower price at Amazon etc. while I was selling it for Rs 700. The only beauty was that I was providing Sachin's autograph on each copy," he pointed out.
"While enquiring the price of Sachin's book, my customers quoted its price at Amazon etc. I've lost a lot of business because of these websites."
Braganza says the changing times have made them reconsider options.
"All sports books sellers are trying to survive as the readership has gone down drastically. And whatever readership that remained has now gone to these websites," he said, pointing out that sports good dealers are facing the same threat from websites like Amazon.
"We're in a small kirana shop-like situation; they cannot survive because people are now going to malls."
The incident of the website putting up the PDF, however, didn't affect the sales of Tendulkar's autobiography as publisher Hachette India acted immediately and forced it to remove the content.
Braganza said he faced the same situation about two years ago when a website put up one of his golf titles without his permission, but he kept mum.
"The copyright law is there, but the judicial system in our country is so bad that that nobody wants to go through it. I also kept quiet. It was Rs 50 book. Maybe, I'd have had to spend Rs 50,000 to recover the price of a few copies," he said.
Former Pakistan cricket captain Hanif Muhammad completed 80 years on Sunday, and the Karachi-based batting great was warmly wished by his family and friends.
A member of one of the most prolific cricketing families, Hanif went under the knife for cancer last year in London and seems to have recovered well since.
The entire Muhammad clan is gathering at his Karachi home for a even bigger bash on Tuesday.
Court battles on the rise in Indian sports
Narinder Batra, president of Hockey India
An extremely distressing trend seems to be gaining ground in Indian sports.
It is about people wielding clout/deep pockets financing proxy legal battles against their opponents to settle personal scores.
People are anyway moving the courts, at the drop of the hat, for redressal.
A high-profile person recently admitted to financing a cricket case in the Supreme Court and the other openly telling the world that he would do something similar in hockey.
Some time ago, Hockey India (HI) secretary Narinder Batra, now its president, sent an email to the media saying that eight sportspersons "will file case" against the government-appointed Arjuna Award selection committee for allegedly being ignored over the prestigious accolade.
"Wish to bring to your notice [the addressee] that now eight athletes, seven from HI and one from athletics , will file case on this committee and I will ensure that none of the eight athletes have to pay any legal, travel and stay charges," Batra had said in the email.
"I'll not allow the government and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to take unfair advantage of the weak financial position of the athletes, and if need be [I] will take their case right up to the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India at zero cost to all eight athletes, and will do the same in future also if the government or the SAI harass another athlete for any reason," he had thundered.
Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi admitted he was financing petitioner Cricket Association of Bengal against sidelined BCCI president N.
Srinivasan in the ongoing case in the SC.
"Anybody who wants to clean up cricket, I am happy to assist, and I will continue to assist everybody who does so," he told Mail Today.
DDCA report figures don't add up
Among the discrepancies that have emerged in an internal auditor's report on the DDCA's 2013-14 accounts, there have been some areas that have thrown up astonishing figures.
This has led to an outcry.
One such area is the money spent on providing facilities to the media contingent during international and IPL matches played at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
The DDCA reportedly rented a couple of laptops and a printer at a rate of Rs 19,800/per day approximately - an exorbitant figure - for the 2014 IPL, besides paying about Rs 6 lakh for TATA Broadband internet.
And for the India- West Indies ODI played in October, about Rs 1.5 lakh was paid to the same company, again for internet charges.