Former President APJ Abdul Kalam was not only a renowned scientist and the ‘People’s President’, but also a bestselling author, who inspired many through books such as ‘Wings of Fire’, ‘Ignited Minds’ and ‘Vision 2020’, among others. His books sold a huge number of copies in multiple languages and although the demand for his texts remained high during his lifetime, his sudden death last week has reignited readers’ interest in his works.
As youngsters flock to bookstores in the city to grab a copy of their favourite Kalam title, booksellers in the city say they are ordering additional copies as the stocks are running out faster than they had anticipated.
‘HAD TO ORDER MORE COPIES’
Bookstore owners in Chandigarh have confirmed that the demand for Kalam’s books has seen a spurt since his death. Stocks that would have taken months to finish, sold out within a couple of days. Rajeev Choudhary, owner of English Book Shop, says, “Kalam was always a very popular author among young readers in the city, but since his demise, his books have grown more popular. Usually, we sell one or two copies of his works in a week. But in the past two days, we have sold more than 100 copies of his works.” He added that the maximum demand was for his autobiography ‘Wings of Fire’, being sold at Rs 295 per copy.
Similarly, Capital Book Depot owner SK Arora says ‘Wings of Fire’ has gone out of stock due to the steep rise in the book’s sale in the past five days. A salesman at the shop, Vijay Kumar, further says, “We have placed an order for more books as people have also been asking for ‘Ignited Minds’ since ‘Wings of Fire’ went out of stock. ‘My Journey’ is also popular among youngsters.”
APJ Abdul Kalam's 79th birthday was recognised as World Student's Day by United Nations. (HT File Photo)
A DIFFERENT TAKE
While Arora feels this pattern is often observed when a certain famous personality is highlighted by the media or during a famous public figure’s death, another local bookstore owner has a slightly different opinion.
Pankaj Kumar of Variety Book Store, one of the oldest bookstores in the city, says, “It varies from individual to individual. Dr Kalam was someone who had that kind of impact and someone with that kind of respect will always create more curiosity among avid readers.”
He informs that the bookstore sold over 50 assorted copies of ‘Ignited Minds’, ‘Indomitable Spirit’ and ‘Wings of Fire’.
“The sale of his latest work ‘Transcendence’ also went up unlike earlier. We started getting orders the same evening the news came out,” says Kumar, adding that buyers range between the age group of 17 and 50 years.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Singh, a salesman at Universal Book Store says they have sold a minimum of five Kalam copies per day post his death, which wasn’t the case earlier.
STEEP INCREASE IN ONLINE SALES
An Amazon India spokerperson told HT : “APJ Abdul Kalam was a great visionary. His books ‘Wings of Fire’ and ‘Ignited Minds’ have been bestsellers in Amazon.in ever since we launched in India and they continue to inspire India’s youth to excel in their respective fields.”
He adds, “Eight books written by Dr Kalam are currently in the top 20 bestsellers on Amazon.in and we have observed a steep increase in demand for his books in the last few days. The growth is to the tune of 20X. Infact, over the last two days, ‘Wings of Fire’ has been the No. 1 bestseller on the website.”
On the other hand, e-tailer Flipkart was accused on Twitter of increasing the prices of the book to cash in on the popularity (see screenshot). While the website was selling ‘Wings of Fire’ at `205 on discount on July 27, the prices shot upto Rs 245 on July 28.
A Flipkart representative, offering an explanation, was quoted telling its followers on Twitter: “With respect to APJ Abdul Kalam’s ‘Wings of Fire - An Autobiography’, till date there are 28 listed sellers offering three reprints of the first edition, having varying MRPs. The April 2014 reprint of the book is priced at rs 275, the June 2015 print is priced at Rs 295 and July 2015 reprint of the book is for rs 325. If a seller goes out of stock, the algorithm recalculates and discovers the new set of sellers for that product. In the case of ‘Wings of Fire’, one of our sellers went out of stock and the system recommended an alternate seller with a different price.”
THE LOCAL BUZZ
Bibliophiles who didn’t read his books earlier now want to know him better and that is the reason why there is a sudden rise in the demand for his books. Simran Singh, 21, a resident of Sector 27 says, “I honestly didn’t bother about the price as I was very keen to know more about Kalam so I ordered it online just two days ago.”
Akanksha Kaur, 30, another local resident, says, “I had already read ‘Wings of Fire’ and really liked his writing style. So, post his death I decided to get myself ‘Transcendence’ from English Book Shop’s SAS Nagar outlet.”
For Vikhyat, 24, a resident of Sector 36, the news of the former President’s death only triggered his wish to read about Kalam. “Being an engineering student, I’ve closely followed Kalam but now I wanted to know more as I’ve heard his words were his largest asset.”
(With inputs by Abhimanyu Kulkarni)