Will IIM alumni's novel rewrite publishing rules in India?
Buoyed by the success of his debut work, the publisher of IIM alumni Karan Bajaj's second novel is eyeing to achieve new heights with a unique and massive marketing campaign for the first print run of an impressive 50,000 copies of the thriller Johnny Gone Down.books Updated: Apr 25, 2010 12:32 IST
Buoyed by the success of his debut work, the publisher of IIM alumni Karan Bajaj's second novel is eyeing to achieve new heights with a unique and massive marketing campaign for the first print run of an impressive 50,000 copies of the thriller Johnny Gone Down.
Says Lipika Bhushan, marketing head at Harper Collins India, "We toyed with the idea of how we can achieve new heights with Johnny Gone Down since there is growing market for such books. Karan has a definite fan following and so the book has the content to click with the masses. And when we talk about masses we have to aim at high numbers and lower price points."
The book is priced at Rs 99 and the publisher is aiming to achieve nearly 100,000 copies in a year.
"The unique marketing strategy was chosen on observing the growing market and the past success of Karan's first book Keep off the Grass. And the possibility for us for the first time to have a price point of Rs.99 for a book that is more than 250 pages added to the attractiveness. It works on the theory that Late C K Prahalad's book Bottom of the Pyramid propagates - one can make profits by lowering the prices and going down the pyramid (reaching out to the masses) so a marketing strategy has to work towards reaching out to as many readers as possible," she told PTI.
According to Karan, his book isn't another entry in the adolescent urban angst or the "Boyz n grlz jst hangin’ out Der in McDonaldz" genre of writing that is doing "spectacularly well" in India right now. "It's an honest attempt at a much bigger canvas spanning multiple countries from India to Cambodia to Thailand to Brazil to the US and a more elaborate Forrest Gumpish plot. Harper's confidence in the novel, in turn, gives me confidence to continue writing more stretching stories," says the IIM-Bangalore passout who now works with Kraft Foods in New York.
The book is about a 40-year-old broke and homeless Ivy League scholar Nikhil Arya, who is minutes away from blowing his brains. An innocent vacation turns into an intercontinental journey that sees Nikhil first become a genocide survivor, then a Buddhist monk, a drug lord, a homeless accountant, a software mogul and a game fighter.
Karan is not nervous in spite of his novel being billed as one having the biggest ever marketing campaign in India for a work of fiction.
"I think, success is a relative term. Selling 100,000 copies is success yes, but genuinely touching some hearts and influencing some lives is perhaps equally, if not more important. I'm very confident that the book will deliver on the latter and I hope that influences the former."
The theme he was playing around for Johnny Gone Down was around success and whether a stable, even-keeled life is better than a rich, interesting life with towering ups and abysmal lows.
"During this time, I was also backpacking for a year between jobs and travelled to some pretty interesting places and ended up meeting quite an odd assortment of people on the road and in youth hostels. Somewhere in the middle of the trip, I began to realise that no matter where I went, whether Cambodia or Brazil or Mongolia or India, there seemed to be more similarities than dissimilarities in people, feelings and ideas. Hence this incredible intercontinental journey of the protagonist began to fuse with the original theme. The culmination of these ideas is Johnny Gone Down," he says.