Everybody’s Business

Increasing interest in Indian success stories and the way business works here is driving readership of business books.

When he's not spending time in meetings or speaking to a roomful of attentive listeners, Prakash Iyer is trying to steal some time alone. On flights, or while waiting in airport lounges, Iyer goes through his notes, "identifying patterns and making connections" that will come together in his next book. In spite of having a full-time job as managing director, Kimberly-Clark Lever India, Iyer is known to many as the author of bestselling business titles such as The Habit of Winning and The Secret of Leadership. He's not the only one: with the literary fiction scene in India facing a long-drawn moment of reckoning, low sales and uncertainty, the genre business books offers both publishing houses and authors a chance at success.

The business book in India is no longer that tome gathering dust on the bookshelf, only to be brought down occasionally by that smart cousin studying at a B-school. Neither are they international titles written mostly by Americans. "The first thing that struck me was that the market was undiscovered from the perspective of Indian authors writing business books. With the kind of explosive growth that the Indian economy had enjoyed over the last two decades, there are a number of great stories that are waiting to be told," says Anish Chandy, business editor, Penguin India. "I think Indian readers are seeking something closer to their roots and international readers have realised the shortcomings of business principles that are restricted to western ideas," says Devdutt Pattnaik, author of Business Sutra: A Very Indian Approach to Management (Aleph 2013), which is trending on the bestseller list.

A glance at the business books section at leading bookstore chains such as Oxford Bookstores or Crossword reveals that more people are interested in reading about Indian success stories and books that understand the way business works in the country. From Porus Munshi's Making Breakthrough Innovation Happen: How 11 Indians Pulled Off The Impossible (HarperCollins India 2009, 55,000 copies sold) to Subroto Bagchi's The Professional (Penguin India 2011, over 1 lakh copies) to Dhandha: How Gujaratis Do Business by Shobha Bondre (Random House India 2013, 20,000 copies), these titles are consistently on the Indian bestseller list.

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