New Delhi: Penguin Books India Ltd, HarperCollins Publishers India Pvt. Ltd and other publishers are introducing new cricket books and reprinting older titles to coincide with the World Cup.
Among the books are autobiographies, biographies, sports-marketing books and quiz books apart from illustrated tomes. Some of these titles include History of the World Cup Cricket published by Roli Books, Going Places: India’s Small-Town Cricket Heroes by Penguin Books, and Cricket! All You Wanted to Know About the World Cup by Puffin India.
Publishers are devising marketing and distribution strategies to boost sales of books during the two-and-a-half-month-long cricket season beginning 19 February with the World Cup and followed by the Indian Premier League (IPL) in April. Coverage of cricket events by broadcasters and newspapers ahead of major events such as the World Cup and IPL also helps generate interest in cricket facts and trivia, prompting retailers to find new ways of marketing the books.
According to data provided by TAM Media Research, the cumulative reach for last year’s IPL was 143 million people. For ICC World Cup 2007, it was 113 million people. TAM’s data covered the all-India market.
According to N.S. Krishna, director, sales and operations, HarperCollins Publishers India, it’s been proven that sales of specific books do well while cricket tournaments are on. During IPL season 3, HarperCollins had released The Game Changers: The Fake IPL Player, based on the writings by Anupam Mukherji, author of a popular cricket blog. “We had an initial print-run of 10,000 copies but sold out 8,000 copies within just one month of the book’s launch,” said Krishna. Similarly, If cricket is a religion, Sachin is God, another HarperCollins title, also released last year, was completely sold out. An initial print-run of 5,000 has been extended to 15,000 copies. “Many publishers will release more titles this year because the World Cup and IPL are back-to-back,” he said. The company will reissue both the titles this year as well.
Penguin Books is planning a quiz night as part of its annual Penguin Library Spring Festival next month. The event has activities centred around the titles for the year, according to Hemali Sodhi, head of marketing.
“An event centred around the World Cup will give a boost to sales, especially to books in the cricket genre,” she added.
According to Kapish Mehra, managing editor of Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd, it’s only natural that cricket books flood the market at this time. “We have created books especially to launch around the World Cup,” he said.
Rupa Publications said it has already sold 60% of its initial print-run on new cricket-specific titles. These include two quiz books, The Cricket World Cup: Cherish and Relish and Who-zatt: A Comprehensive World Cup Quiz Book, a quiz book by ESPN Star Sports anchor Gautam Bhimani and Navneet Prabhu. Rupa has also published The Devil’s Pack: The men behind the ’83 victory, written by Austin Coutinho and Balwinder Singh Sandhu, former Indian Test cricketer and member of the 1983 World Cup winning team. The books, with an initial print-run of 5,000 copies each, started selling two weeks ago. Most of these books were commissioned six months back in view of the busy cricket calendar in 2011, Mehra said. Rupa is planning second editions of these books.
Sunil Kalra, who has co-authored an illustrated book with Anjum Chopra, said that the book’s marketing alone has cost about Rs 2-3 lakh. Chopra is a member of the country’s women’s cricket team. The book titled Women’s Cricket World: A Journey from 1745-2013, has been published by Indian Sports Book, a sports imprint of New Delhi-based Siddharth Publications Pvt. Ltd. The book has been advertised through hoardings, online initiatives and tie-ups with coffee shops and restaurants, including Café Coffee Day and McDonalds.
The International Cricket Council, or ICC, has already purchased a few copies of the book to present them to dignitaries during the World Cup. The authors are also in talks with other cricket boards for selling their book, which has more than 200 pictures, is priced at Rs 2,499 and has an initial print-run of 270 copies.
Typically, between 3,000 and 5,000 copies are published by most companies as their initial print-run. “Our distribution team is noticing a strong interest emerging for cricket books from smaller towns and cities and not just the metros,” Mehra said.
Online bookstores such as uRead.com, for instance, are introducing special discounts of as much as 30% on cricket-related titles to attract buyers. “We have also noticed that words like ‘cricket’, ‘Sachin’, ‘World Cup’, in the last couple of weeks, are showing up on our search engine with immense regularity,” said Piyush Goel, co-founder and chief executive of uRead.com, an online bookstore run by Prakash eSolutions Pvt. Ltd.
V.K. Karthika, publisher and chief editor at HarperCollins, said that the company was preparing to publish a book on sports marketing—The Business of Cricket: The Story of India’s Sports Marketing—to time it with the IPL season in April. The book will generate interest, given that IPL has become a formidable marketing property, she said.
HarperCollins has also published Matthew Hayden’s autobiography Standing My Ground and another book on Sachin Tendulkar called Sachin: 501 Things You Didn’t Know About the Master Blaster, to coincide with the World Cup.
Chiki Sarkar, publisher of Random House India, agreed that books get more publicity in newspapers when they are released during the cricket season. Random House recently released Chinaman, a literary novel by Shehan Karunatilaka, revolving around the game.
The World Cup is renewing reader interest in older titles as well. Howzzat Butterfingers was published by Puffin India, the children’s imprint of Penguin Books India, last year and is set for a reprint. Shruti Debi, a former editor with Picador India, the fiction imprint of Pan Macmillan Asia, said that two of its best-selling titles, Pundits from Pakistan by Rahul Bhattacharya and A Corner of a Foreign Field by Ramachandra Guha, have been reissued.
Daniel Watts, regional director of India and Asia at Macmillan Publishers (China) Ltd, said that it made business sense to reprint the cricket-specific books because publishers could capitalize on the hype. “We do expect both our books to do well and sell out over the next couple of months,” he said.
The print run for both the books are about 3,000 each. Reprinting cricket-related titles is more profitable because advances needn’t be paid to authors and there are fewer pre-production costs compared with brand new titles.