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The Bookstore of future

In my previous post , I outlined why the bookstore, even if inefficient in selling books, has reasons to exist beyond mere 'sales'. If the bookstore is to continue to exist, without the inherent value of selling books, it needs to find other ways of generating cash flow, and that too while it serves the other purposes outlined. But let me first recap the purposes which a book store should serve: Serendipity and discoverability of books  Browse a book before buying  Meet like minded people One key element which is implicit to the above is quiet surroundings. The list sounds more like the requirements we have from community libraries than from bookstores, but indeed good bookstores are no less than libraries! So let's start in the reverse order: To satisfy #3, the bookshop needs to have sufficient real estate which should be utilized through a combination of large seating area - preferably a coffee shop - and enough room between the aisles for customers to

The Lost World of Book stores

Indie book stores have seen a revival around the world; In US, numbers increased from 1,651 in 2009 to 2,094 in 2014 — Nikhil Kulkarni (@kulkarninikhil) September 12, 2015 This article in Mint  made me think of the dying trade of bookstores, which as a bibliophile pains me.  Independent book stores have been downing shutters for a few years now - Borders the iconic bookstore chain - its Oxford street store was a landmark (even tourist attraction for Bibliophile Asians like me where I have spent couple of Sundays just reading) - shut shop in 2009 ; Fact & Fiction a similar iconic store in Delhi shut shop  recently. Some non-bibliophiles wonder why are bookstores needed when you can buy any book online much cheaper? Well, (at the risk of sounding politically incorrect) any woman would tell you why - the pleasures of Window shopping! Yes indeed - for bibliophiles, bookstores offer the same pleasures of serendipity - discovering a new book in a compl

आज़ादी क्या है

I was listening the radio day before and heard legendary actor Manoj Kumar describing his first experience of India's independence. The anecdote he related has been one of the best stories of freedom; I would hence like to record it here on my blog. I am trying to reproduce his words as much verbatim as I can remember: चौदह अगस्त की रात को मेरे चाचा का देहांत हो गया । मेरी माँ उस समय घर पर बीमार थी । अगले दिन सुबह मेरे पिताजी ने मुझे उठाया और नहाने धोने के बाद मुझे कहा, चलो हम लाल क़िले जा रहे हैं । वहां पहुचने के लिए उस वक्त, जिस रेफ्यूजी कैंप में हम रहते थे, वहां से २ घंटे की एक बस पकड़नी पड़ती थी। हम बस से लाल क़िले पहुंचे और उस भीड़ में खड़े मैंने देखा की लाल क़िले की प्राचीर पर एक शख्स सफ़ेद कपडे पहने खड़ा है।  बाबूजी ने मुझे बताया की वे नेहरू जी हैं।  नेहरू जी का नाम सुना था मैंने, पता था वो कौन हैं। खैर, नेहरू जी ने अपना भाषण दिया और आखिर में नारे लगाये । सारे क़िले में खड़ी भीड़ नें भी नारे लगाये, बाबूजी भी इनमें शामिल थे। तब पहली बार में मुझे लगा की कोई तो चीज़ होगी ये आज़ादी,

The future of personal computing

This post is co-authored by Hemantkumar Jain who writes on the shoOOonya Blog . Personal Computing is probably a word from the 90s, not quite apt for the post iPad era. The reason we use it though is because, this post starts with a recap of a discussion from 2006. As the news spread about and its affiliate moving to mobile only websites - our minds went back to a discussion we had in 2006 which started at Hemant's apartment in Geneva and continued for next 5 days through our train journeys across Switzerland . The 80GB iPod had just been released, and Hemant mentioned that at the end of the day, the iPod which fits the pocket had hard drive space and a processor. So all we needed now was to load a light weight OS on it, connect it to a monitor, keyboard/mouse and you have a personal computer ready. Today, the relevance of the personal computer is almost lost in context of tablets and mobile phones. The question is - will this 'mobile-only

Should you let Kids Use iPads?

Steve Jobs didn't let his kids use iPads (as per  this website ) - even though he invented them himself. A lot of parents might want to follow him. " Especially in Silicon Valley, there is actually a trend of tech execs and engineers who shield their kids from technology." The claim is that technological addiction prevents kids minds from becoming creative " setting up our children for incomplete, handicapped lives devoid of imagination, creativity and wonder when we hook them onto technology at an early age. " To me this is an extremely biased and dystopian view of technology exposure - though it is nothing new - the same type of concerns were raised few decades ago for TV and before that even for newspapers. My view is that it depends on how and what kind of exposure you give your kids. For ex. kids today already know the whole ABC, 123, almost all poems by the age of two. This is all thanks to nicely made kids rhyme videos which you can play in ab

The no-man's-land syndrome

Narendra Modi's Swatch Barat campaign faces lot of hurdles - changing people's mentalities, overcoming the chronic issues of open defecation, lack of cleanliness infrastructure (starting from dustbins to garbage collection trucks) etc. But one problem faced by it is indeed the no-man's-land syndrome also known as not-my-problem syndrome or outside my zone problem :-). Check out the image - the house owner has cemented the ramp up from the road to his porch and the municipality has made a cement road right upto the pavement; yet a short portion between the two cemented portions is left out for mud and water to accumulate. I must admit that this picture was taken a day after the festival of Holi , so the muck of mud and water is more dirty than usual with remains of water balloons and color from previous day's holi celebrations. Nevertheless, this does not take away the problem - the fact that our systems fail at boundaries. This manifests across levels of o

The battle of faces but for issues that concern us

Mint editorial has the following to say in response to induction of Kiran Bedi by BJP in Delhi CM race. Bedi is being seen as the answer to Arvind Kejriwal. If faces could change governance, then Bedi and Kejriwal would have made all the difference to Delhi. Delhi is a megalopolis with problems that don’t have easy solutions. Its consumption of water and electricity is way beyond what it produces. Every summer, their shortage creates a crisis-like situation. None of the parties has a clear idea of how to solve this. An election campaign that is so focused on personalities is unlikely to pay attention to the problems. As in other elections in India, the emphasis is to win first and think later. Read more at: I disagree. If the mere problem of good governance was solving issues 'at hand' then a bureaucracy would have sufficed to run a country. And that was the precise mistake we made in th

The workplace of the future

I was at a workshop last week conducted by Prof Ashish Nanda [ 1 ] and Prof Biju Varkkey [ 2 ] - and it was an enlightening experience. There was one thought which came from them towards the end of the session which has been reverberating in my mind ever since. This was about the future of the workplace. In response to a question about handling the 'new generation' Prof Nanda mentioned that most of the theories and media talk about the Millennials or Next Generation being different and changing the workplace is bunkum; but what he said next was insightful - the workplace of the future will not be influenced so much by the entry or the new generation but by 3 factors: Women in the workforce - for the first time in the history of mankind we are going to have a large number of women who would have spent more than 30 years at Corporate and Academic careers. Many of them have reached or are reaching leadership positions and the workplace is going to be far different with so

Bell Bajao!

A couple of years ago, an NGO started a campaign called 'Bell Bajao' against domestic violence. The concept was simple, if you are an audience to (i.e. overhear) domestic violence in the neighborhood, don't intervene directly - but make the perpetrator of this violence aware that someone is hearing / watching - social pressure of being watched will compel the perpetrator to stop. The video below illustrates, where the neighbor simply rings the bell to stop the domestic quarrel but when the door opens, he asks for Milk.  This is a very effective mechanism - I am intrigued if this can only be applied to domestic violence - why can't it be applied to international diplomacy to reduce crimes against humanity such as the ghastly events at Peshawar? As much as one is pained by the events and acts of Taliban, the larger pain is the apathy shown by most of the world's Governments including India. Just a message of condolence, a statement condemning the attac

What is the ideal work-experience prior to an MBA?

One of the most popular posts on this blog has been this one , co-authored by me and Shubham while we were still students at NITIE. Even after 10 years, the post has stood the test of time and continues to guide new aspirants to take a right decision choosing between taking up a placement offer vs. going for an MBA. This post however is dated and also leaves some key questions unanswered. One such question is as to what is the ideal work experience prior to an MBA. One visitor to this blog asked me this question on email and while I was replying to him, I realized that the answer may benefit several others who visit this blog. Hence reproducing a generalized summary of my reply to the reader here. If you look at it from perspective of jump in salary that you get before and after an MBA , then, the earlier you do an MBA, the better it is. For example, if you are a fresher, as an engineer you'll end up with a package of 3-4 Lakhs, while after an MBA may be 6-8 Lakhs. If you