Magazines or Books: Changing Value Propositions

17 07 2009

Recently, while traveling by train from Hyderabad to Kolkata, I was faced with a dilemma, I have not faced before. Whether to buy or a magazine or a book? In the past, they both had their distinct price points, hence did not compete at all. A typical magazine at Rs 15-25 and a book for over Rs 250, had their distinct positioning. Magazines was meant to be read during the journey to catch up on the latest and discarded. Book was supposed to be read at leisure, brought back and stacked at the book-shelf, adding to one’s collection.

 Regular readers of magazines would have noted the sudden across-the-board increase in prices of magazines. BusinessWorld which had long been priced at Rs 10 per week, has been increased to Rs 15. Outlook Business,a fortnightly, is now priced at Rs 25 against Rs 20 until recently. Forbes India has been launched at a premium price of Rs 50/-. Mind you, they mention this is just the invitation price. The general news magazines like Outlook and India Today have also revised their prices.

Wondering if this is in response to rising costs or declining revenues from advertising. Just as the prices of magazines are going up, the prices of Indian paperbacks have been brought down.

I found several bestselling paperbacks like Chetan Bhagat’s “3 Mistakes of my life”, BPO-Sutra, compiled by Sudhindra Mokhasi priced at Rs 95/-. Even non-fiction/ management books like Kishore Biyani’s “It happened in India” and Rashmi Bansal’s “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” are priced at a relatively inexpensive Rs 99/- and Rs 125/- respectively. What should I buy, a magazine at Rs 50/- or a book at Rs 95/- ?

Suddenly, the book looked a great bargain. You guessed it right. I ended up buying a Rs 95/- paperback. By playing the price game, it appears that the publishers have been able to expand volumes considerably. Rashmi Bansal wrote in her blog recently, that her book has already crossed the 100,000 mark.

The next time you visit the airport or railway book stall to buy a magazine, do check out the books on offer.

 – G. Mohan




2 responses

19 07 2009

The only catch is that in this more-reading-matter-per rupee equation, you may get stuck with a book which you may not link to read beyond a few pages. With a magazine you are reasonably sure about the content and the style. Though of course a magazine would not find its way to your book shelf!

26 07 2009

You have a point there. Even when the prices of book were much higher, I have often ended up judging the books by their cover and ended up ruing the purchase.

I do not have enough of a sample to make a generalisation that these low price books are poorer publishing or editing standards. Good publishers are behind it.

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