I’m very annoyed by this trick Om Book Shop has been pulling, claiming to offer discounts of up to 90 per cent on some of its titles. Now the discounts on most of the books range between 10 and 20 per cent, and those are all above board. Many other bookstores in Delhi have similar schemes. My problem is with the titles that the shop is claiming to sell at very high discounts, when there’s actually a measure of duplicity involved; customers not in the know are being misled.
What’s happening is this: the supposed 70/80/90 per cent discounts on most of the international titles (certainly the recent ones) are not on the IBH prices but on the rupee equivalents of the pound/dollar prices on the book jackets. So it seems like the discount being offered is a mammoth one whereas actually the discounted price is not all that different from the price you’d pay for the same book at other bookstores offering just 10 per cent discounts.
Example: I picked up Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram from Om today for Rs 350. This, supposedly, is after a 77 per cent discount on the original price, which they claim is Rs 1488. Now as a books journo I can promise you that even when Shantaram had newly arrived in stores a few months ago, in hardback, the IBH price was nowhere near 1400 rupees. What Om has done is to take the pound value (16.99 pounds), convert it into rupees and then magnanimously bestow a “77 per cent discount” on it.
Now, having spleen-vented, let me admit that if I had bought a first-hand copy of Shantaram from anywhere else I probably would have had to shell out at least Rs 50-100 more (which is why I bought it from Om). So strictly speaking, this is in fact the best deal. The problem is one of principle, and of scale. What’s happening here is that people who aren’t regular book-buyers (and therefore unaware of the complete picture) are being fooled into thinking they are getting fantastic deals the likes of which wouldn’t be found anywhere else. That stinks.