The recent release of books written by players has opened a new chapter in our enduring obsession with cricket. Shoaib Akhtar's book is a spicy account of his colourful career and, considering the demands of the market, a cleverly incorporated item number (sensational references to Sachin Tendulkar) to ensure a strong opening.
Much more sober and scholarly is the biography of Bishan Bedi, maybe a little late in the day but still a story worth telling and reading. Till now, Indian cricket has thrown up only a few books of quality. Missing are books that provide an insight into cricket or a window into the mind of players or ones that relive their struggle/success.
In England and Australia, the cricket book industry is more developed and it is not uncommon for players to put out end-of-season diaries and write their biographies. There is also space for the scholar to have his say.
The book writing scene in India is vastly different because cricket space here is already cluttered. The consumers and fans suffer an information overload from the media which serves up a stiff dose of cricket on a daily basis.
The easy availability of news through the flick of a remote button restricts the scope for serious writing. Nor are players too keen because writing books is hard work, and not financially rewarding. But this could change as publishers are encouraged by cricket's growing reach and the more inclusive nature of T20.
This, plus the arrival of a set of smart cricket writers, has changed the dynamics of the industry and suddenly cricket books are viable business.