India Uncut

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

On spellings, Crossword and the labour market

PrufrockTwo has put up a hilarious post with pictures showing how the Crossword staff at the Juhu branch have got spellings of authors wrong in their shelf labels. There you will find "Harlun Coben," "Agatha Christi," "Salman Rushidi," Micheal Crichton" and more such joy.

This is a step further than displaying books in sections they do not belong in, as I'd once blogged about. A few months ago, I asked the then-CEO of Crossword R Sriram about this, and he told me that it had all to do with the BPO boom.

Any young, minimally educated Indian can now get easy jobs in the BPO industry that pay far more than what Crossword can afford for its sales staff. As a result, Sriram used to find it almost impossible to hire attendants who actually knew anything about books. Now it would seem that Crossword can't even hire managers who know how to spell.

Sriram's strategy was to make up for this with ambience and a friendly environment at his stores. It works because most of his customers presumably don't care about spellings, and don't want the breadth and depth on display that PrufrockTwo and I would wish for. (I vastly prefer Landmark and Strand, but Crossword's a nice place to chill and have a frappe or two.)

That said, I'm sure Crossword could get innovative by a) getting Lit students from across the city involved, maybe by hiring some on a part-time basis and b) incentivising customers to improve their services. For example, if they gave PrufrockTwo a Rs. 1000 gift voucher for pointing out those mistakes, that would be money well spent, for multiple reasons.

Whether he would find anything worth acquiring with that voucher is an entirely different matter, of course!
amit varma, 12:49 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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