The perfect blend of quality and creativity, Genius Publications is a reliable name in the higher education echelons.
A first-generation publisher, an engineer by degree and a learner by heart, Ajay Goyal started his foray into publishing after two stints in the service sector. Initially, after completing his engineering when he got placed in a company he found his calling elsewhere, i.e. business. He tried his hand at various things, but as the luck would have it, he had to revert to his previous means and find a job again. The second term into servicing too turned out to be a successful one, but yet again, his business bent of mind would not let him be. So in 2002 he came back with more vigour and greater resolve and, started on the journey of Genius Publications.
Genius Publications, one of the most relaible sources for higher education in Rajasthan is his brainchild. In an industry, where it is most difficult to breakthrough, he has not only made it big but has also left an indelible mark on the higher education through his creativity. From supporting his family from the get-go to not just fulfilling his dreams but also carving out a niche for himself, Ajay Goyal has come a long way. This feature talks about him and his inspiring journey.
Following is an excerpt from the interview Wonderpublish conducted with him.
Q. Why Publishing?
A: Actually the answer to this question is another question. Back then when I had a marketing job, my brother, who was then pursuing his engineering degree, asked me ‘Why don’t you write a book for Engineering Mathematics?‘ And as I was looking forward to opportunities to get started with my own business, I met a professor and started writing the book. I used to take the bag full of books to my office and work on the book whenever had the free time. I even used to stay late at office to write the book. And within 6 months, the first Genius book was ready.
Q. What was the biggest challenge that you faced afterwards?
A: Well after those 6 arduous months of sweet labour, the biggest challenge that came running was, ‘How to sell the book? How to market it?’ Because the book market is a ‘Credit Market’, you don’t get paid upfront. The dearth of cash in the market coupled with our inexperience was the biggest impediment that we faced at that time.
Q. How did you overcome it?
A: Funnily enough, our creativity came to the rescue. We devised a plane to enter the minds of the booksellers by creating Artificial Demand. We built a team of my brother’s friends who helped spread the word about Genius by pestering the booksellers through their request for Genius Books. When we reached the doors of those booksellers, they not just asked for our books but agreed to pay upfront as we put this condition of having the cash first, ‘Cash & Carry’ model in order to sustain the business.
Q. What made Genius Books outclass the competition later?
A: First of, the scarcity for such books. The market was bereft of quality reference material. And above all, the quality of the books. I personally make sure that from the cover page to the last word on the last page, books are error-free and richly detailed. And that’s why we go for the reprints of our books immediately. For example, within 15 days we reprinted our first book, such was the demand and the quality of the content.
Q. I’m glad you mention content here. What is it that makes Genius’ content stand out?
A: From the very get-go, I was clear about one thing that the content of the books should be layperson friendly. That’s why I make sure I work with the best of writers and expert editors who work in tune with my conviction.
Q. Who are these writer and editors?
A: University Professors from the university itself. I personally make sure that the writer knows the level of quality Genius books represent. Sometimes we do seek help from the outside as well, but that’s rare. And regarding editors, we have a mixture of in-house editors and freelancers.
Q. How many titles do we have as of now?
A: Genius espouse a healthy number of 500 titles at this moment. And depending on the active titles that do better than the others, around 150 get reprinted each year.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you face right now?
A: With the number of colleges coming down, and the quality of students going further down south, publishers are finding it hard to compete with illicit photocopiers. This alone affects the business immensely.
Q. When the purchasing power of the students is very less, how do you think this problem can be tackled?
A: Instead of fighting losing battles against singular photocopiers, governments should bring about systemic changes. Authorities should provide more spaces to the students as well as the study material so that the students can develop a healthy and ethical relationship with the society.
Q. Anything that hasn’t changed in the industry since you’ve become a part of it?
A: Well, I would say the education system itself hasn’t come out of the clutches of the marks-based evalualtion. Until or unless we move towards a more robust, ‘Knowledge-Based Education System’, we are not going to see major changes. In west, students can chose subjects according to what appeals to them, and create a pallet of learning for themselves. Whilst what we have is a rigid system of fixed subjects to be taught in a fixed timeframe. To raise the level of our students, teachers and the education system itself, should be the immediate as well as the ultimate goal of our governments.
Q. How do we raise the level of the teachers?
A: Pay them well, and more importantly treat them well. Universities should overlook the immediate gains and not employ teachers to the works other than teaching. Let the teachers broaden their knowledge base first, and build upon it.
Q. Lastly, what keeps you motivated and what’s next for Genius Publications?
A: The answer to the latter part of the question is simple: “To keep on raising the quality of the content.” And to the first part, I’d say in order to be perfect you have to keep on going. Your pursuit for excellence keeps you fired up, and your creativity makes you stand out in the crowd. So, my mantra of ‘Be Perfect and Creative‘ keeps me motivated.