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Dhirubhaism catches readers' imagination

Last updated on: October 08, 2008 09:45 IST

Dhirubhai sells. Against All Odds, a book on the life and times of Dhirubhai Ambani by advertising veteran A G Krishnamurthy, is trying to ride on the success of an earlier book on Dhirubhai by the same author.

Dhirubhaism, a book on the work philosophy of the legend who built India's biggest firm from scratch, has sold around 150,000 copies in eight languages - Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Telugu, Malayalam and English.

"The book profiles one of the most successful businessmen. It's an inspirational read for young managers, wannabe entrepreneurs, people who want to break-free and do well,'' said R Chandra Sekhar, publisher at Tata McGraw-Hill.

"People connected to Dhirubhai very well; the book talks about the processes he employed to build an empire. A lot of people want to become Dhirubhai - achieve extraordinary success with ordinary background,'' said Krishnamurthy.

"Last year, I got a feedback from readers who wanted me to tell them the life and times of Dhirubhai Ambani. It's an inside view from someone who has known him for 23 years,'' said Krishnamurthy, who's has observed him from close quarters.

AGK, as Krishnamurthy is known in the ad industry, worked for Reliance as an advertising manager, helping build its textile brand Vimal, before founding the group ad agency Mudra Communications and MICA, a school for advertising.

The success of the English edition caught the imagination of language publishers. Delhi-based Diamond Pockets has published Dhirubhaism in Hindi, Bengali, and Oriya while the Gujarati edition by GK Sheth & Co, has been a huge success.

"We have sold 30,000 copies of the book. Typically, Gujarati businessmen don't have the luxury (time) to read books. But many bought to learn lessons from the great man," said Ratnaraj Sheth, CEO of Ahmedabad-based RR Sheth & Co.

Pricing often plays a key role in success in the language market (language editions sell for Rs 60-70 against Rs 145 for the English). "Pricing helps but the content has to be powerful for the book to succeed," said Chandra Sekhar. Within a couple of months of its launch, Against All Odds has sold over 15,000 copies, said Tata McGraw-Hill.

The book will be available in all the languages and a few more that the first one was translated into, with the Gujarati edition likely to hit the stores on October 19 and the Hindi edition by November. Several non-fiction books have done well in India. These include How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, You Can Win by Shiv Khera, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma, each selling 0.5-1 million copies.

"It's the time. A decade back, Carnegie was popular. Then we had Shiv Khera. Current big sellers are Chetan Bhagat and Robin Sharma. Each generation picks up its own non-fiction or inspirational read," added a publisher.

What's interesting is that, like Dhirubhaism, non-fiction works of several Indian authors' are selling well and being translated into several Indian languages.

Chetan Bhagat's The 3 Mistakes of My Life is available in Hindi and will soon be available in six other Indian languages. Sudha Murthy's Wise & Otherwise, which has sold over 30,000 copies in Gujarati.

Other authors whose works are getting translated are Biswaroop Roy Chowdhary, Joginder Singh, Kiran Bedi, Vir Sanghvi, Karan Thapar, Deepak Chopra, Abdul Kalam, Sobha De and Taslima Nasreen.

"Earlier, we used to depend on foreign titles. But now many good books by Indian authors are available, which readers can relate to better,'' said Manish Verma of Delhi-based Diamond Publications.

Ranju Sarkar in Mumbai
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