Friday, January 14, 2011

The asli, the nakli, and the biases

Had a conversation with a young man selling a bunch of pirated books at a traffic signal.

I asked how much he makes per sale. He said Rs 50-75, depending on how hard people like us haggle. Pestered me to buy one. I said I don't buy 'nakli' (fake/pirated) books.

He said he too has to survive.

I told him I am a writer myself but am not making even Rs 2 on the kind of books he sells, why would I buy from him?

He paused, then said 'But you couldn't have written ALL these books. Buy one book which you have not written.'

Couldn't argue with that logic. So I laughed and shook my head. Then I said I will buy when you sell 'asli maal' (original/real stuff).

The traffic light changed to green. As our taxi sped away, he called out 'When people like me sell them at traffic signals, even asli books will look nakli to you'.

Still chewing on that one. Chewing hard and finding the truth of it stuck in my graw.

An interesting aside - 6 out of 8 'international bestsellers' being pirated and sold by these boys are non-fiction. That's another thing to chew on, eh?


The Globetrotter said...

well he caught you...'when people like me seel them.....even asli book wouldl look nakli' hhhaahhaa. Smart !! He has already learnt the ways to survive in this harsh world. He has to.

Destination Infinity said...

Good point, his. I have seen pirated books even on non-fiction... In fact, in some places, there are regular shops that sell such stuff :O

Destination Infinity

Hari Batti said...

There are two problems here. First, writers don't get paid enough. Second, and related to the first, is the fact that we don't do enough to increase the number of readers out there. Reading is addictive: people who read a book--even a pirated books--are more likely to become more hooked on reading. In the end, they are more likely to buy an original book. It's not enough to have book stalls in shopping malls... in the absence of an excellent system of school and public libraries and a culture of reading, maybe the guys selling pirated books are doing more good than harm. The author's don't get royalties (which is true also when multiple readers read a library book), but the author's ideas get out there. And maybe the reader will buy the next pirated book legitimately. Just something to chew on.

Speaking of books, I loved yours and finally got around to reviewing it--I'm sure sales will jump dramatically this quarter!

suraj sharma said...

cotton candy. that's what it felt like to me. as in, something that can't be chewed on. the books don't look fake they are fake for reasons any simple-minded economist will lay out for you in clearer terms than i can.

its way too easy for the poor to guilt-trip the not-so-poor into philanthropic modes for they seem to equate poverty with stupidity...
and are surprised when they find that the two aren't counterparts on any field.

WillOTheWisp said...

Maybe tangential, but it sometimes makes me wonder if the writer's impetus to get the words out is a desire to reach out by hook or crook or to survive by licensing ( through legitimate purchase from authorised sources ) his work. Makes me also think of some who would want to pay to be published ... :D

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