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One of the emerging discussions among the book lovers is the challenge posed to their great habit by the technological advancements that are taking place thick and fast. Ever increasing use of social networks and the popularity of online communities have undoubtedly affected the good tastes of most of the young generation. It is evident that the taste for literature and reading books has been on its way down. One of the major reasons for that phenomenon is the lack of usage of technology by the book publishers and book sellers in Sri Lanka.

A set of talented budding engineers from the faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa has identified this void in our country and they have come up with a simple but an innovative idea to blend technology with books. Their idea provides us with a great insight as to how we can use technologies such as mobile communications, internet etc. for popularizing reading among our generation.

“Book Seeker” is the brand name of their product. Book Seeker is a customized mobile application that has been developed for the use of the upcoming Colombo International Book Fair, with the collaboration of Dialog and Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association. You do not need to own a high end mobile to use this. All what you need is to send an SMS to get this service.

Application works as follows:

Send the complete title of the book that you want to find at the Book Fair to Book Seeker. It will search the book for you and reply you with the list of publishers who have the requested book along with their stall numbers and locations. One of the major advantages of the application is its intelligence. You do not need spell the title of the book perfectly. It corrects your typing mistakes. You can search for books of any language as well. All what you have to do is type the title of the book in English (not the translation, but type the words as it is in English, same as you type Sinhalese words in English when sending SMS).

We believe that this application will be of immense use for the book loving public of the island. During previous years, the large number of stalls, the huge crowd that visited the book fair as well as the long queues made finding the books you really want immensely difficult. With the invention of this app, you will no longer need to go from stall to stall in search of the books you want to buy. Even from home, you can get to know about the locations and publishers of the books, which will undoubtedly make the lives of the readers easy.

In order to use the app, first you have to register yourself. Type reg<space>isk and send to 77115 from your Dialog mobile and get registered. Registration needs to be done only once. After getting registered, you can search for books by typing isk<space>book name and send to 77115.

Although this is a simple application, this concept has the potential to go a long way. Book Seeker developer team has plans to extend this idea further to empower the book loving community of the island. We wish them all the very best for their future endeavours.

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I was first introduced to a book of David Meerman Scott (World Wide Rave) by Sukanti Husain (@sukanti) in April/May 2009 and have been a fan of books by David ever since. His site has been a great resource for some of my work and in addition to the books for sale, he has practiced what he preaches by giving away free ebooks on his site.

So now David has got together with Brian Halligan (CEO of Hubspot) and published a book titled ‘Marketing lessons from the Grateful Dead’.

Truth be told, for someone living in Sri Lanka (with interest mostly in local music) and for being born in the 80s, I had not heard of the band ‘Grateful Dead’! But after I got the book from Wiley Publishers, I checked them up on Google (and Bing for that matter) and was overwhelmed by the work that they had accomplished. I ain’t a ‘deadhead’ but have been intrigued by the ways in which they were able to satisfy their fans. This is clearly reflected in the chapters highlighted by David and Brian.

We see many new artists giving away music for free but it was Grateful dead who came up with the ‘freemium’ business model way back in the 1960s! And they have been successful at it.

David (left) and Brian (right) at Barnes & Noble in Burlington

 

What David and Brian have done in this book is shown how to think and market like the band, thinking of ways to market differently from the competition. In addition to the crisp clear writing, I like the “Rock On” sections at the end of each chapter which acts as an excellent guide to inspire new ideas and ways to do things differently. It felt like David and Brian were sitting next to me and guiding along and encouraging as I read each chapter.

Just like with Chris Brogan’s book ‘Social Media 101’ which I reviewed last month, this book also has short chapters which makes it very easy to grasp all that is being said in the 192 pages. Each chapter focus on one element of the Grateful Dead’s marketing.

In each chapter you get little orange boxes which highlight some important aspect of what the Grateful Dead had done and these can even be printed and put up on walls for inspiration.

This book is clearly broken down into 3 parts with the first focusing on the band, the second focusing on the fans and lastly on the business.

Just like the band choosing a memorable name, David and Brian share their own story about having a memorable brand name like HubSpot and David using his middle name ‘Meerman’ to distinguish from the other ‘David Scotts’ out there. Ahem.. I guess I am on the right track myself by using my initials W.G.T.Fernando to differentiate from the other ‘Gihan Fernandos’ out there. I have a long way to go but the start has been made. Maybe it’s not late for you to use a clear brand to differentiate yourself from the pack either.

The duo talk about having ‘digital citizens’ in a company’s team and creating a diverse team like the Grateful Dead did. It’s all good advice and are worth looking into in order to sustain and be successful in this technology driven world we live in.

Chapter 7 was a very heartening one since it opened up avenues by redefining the boundaries set for raising funding for a startup. David and Brian had used ‘Y Combinator’ as an ideal example in which to explain about redefining boundaries and going the extra mile to be different and making things happen. This chapter is a must read for any startup company and a chapter to watch out for traditional VC firms.

The Grateful Dead had respect for its loyal fans. For e.g. they announced tours to fans first and treated supporters to the best seats. Just like the band showing a lot of loyalty to the fans, businesses nowadays should also adopt this approach. David and Brian highlight a few occasions where companies have gone the other way by only trying to gather new customers and ignoring and alienating the old ones. Great examples that can be taken from the band that can be easily adopted by companies that want to survive in the market.

Talking into consideration a chapter from the 3rd section ‘Business’, chapter 15 focus on upgrade to premium. The Grateful Dead encourages people to record shows for free but also sells high quality recordings directly via their site. This approach is one which many companies are adopting where they provide a limited edition of a product for free but if want the best quality/full product, you pay a small premium. We have a few companies (http://creately.com & http://curdbee.com to name a few) in Sri Lanka as well who have adopted a similar approach. Like I mentioned at the start of this review, David has a similar approach where he has a few titles of his which can be freely downloadable, once you like his style of writing, you would then want to buy his remaining titles. A classic case of an individual showing by example.

The book concludes with the chapter titled ‘Do what you love’. “We are taught as children that work and play are opposing forces in nature. This teaching is incorrect- it is possible that your work can be like play!’ says the authors and I won’t argue with that. We need to live our own dreams and not someone else’s. Be passionate about your job, else do yourself a favor and find another place. Like Confucius said ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’

Not only is the content of the book worth the money invested, with some great photographs by Jay Blakesberg and illustrations by Richard Biffle, it amplifies its worth.

So go ahead and dive into this title and pretty soon, you too will look at things differently and be a change maker. Are you up for the challenge?

You can purchase the book from this link (amazon affiliate link): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0470900520?ie=UTF8&tag=socmedempavet-20…

Book details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (August 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470900520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470900529
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces

 

Image Source:

http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Third_Party_Photo/2010/07/28/intro__1…