I am probably one of the earliest Indian in India who might have exercised E-commerce to buy a book. I really wish that some day someone hunts me down and I am felicitated for this act at some mega event. It was in year 1998 or may be 1999 (I guess), at that point of time I was working with ‘Newgen Software, Okhla, Delhi’, a small software company with great promise, testing their flagship product ‘Newgen Omnidocs’. I had recently read ‘The Midnight’s children’ and became an ardent fan of Salman Rushdie, have also read one more of his book called ‘The moor’s last sigh’. A new book has recently come out by Salman, ‘The ground beneath her feet’ and I ordered that book at rediff.com
I chose to pay through VPP (Value Paid at Post), which means that I would pay once I get the goods. I did the transaction and my wait started. Interestingly nothing happened so I mailed the relevant folks at rediff and I remember that I was asked to wait for some more time. I dont exactly remember but I did receive a call from some bookseller in Bangalore confirming my order. Finally one fine morning, I was called in by my front office staff at Newgen and there lay the hard-bound edition of the book. While I looked at the the packet with novelty in my eyes, the world around me didn’t notice anything. History was being created in that office.
I asked around to see if there is anyone waiting for me to collect the money but I could not find any one. I even left a note at office security which is at the main entrance of the office to contact me if someone comes looking for money and me. But no one came. My first e-commerce transaction turned into a gift. I was never charged anything. In fact if I remember correctly, the guy from Bangalore said that since they can’t source a paperback edition, they are sending me a hard-bound edition without any extra charge. It turned out to be without any charge.
The book is still lying on my huge 6 rows , 3 columns end-to-end wall mounted book rack.
Over time, e-commerce caught up. VPP became a thing of past, now you punch in your credit card no and you are good. In less then a week you get a book at your doorstep and they never forget to charge you.
My most recent purchase has been a technical book. Its called “Programming in C” by “Ritchie and Kernighan”. My niece is now going to college and she would start learning C in her first semester so I gifted her this book. This time the process was very simple, do a search, find a seller who is in India and who sort of looks trust worthy, order it and you are done.
I bought this from www.flipkart.com and they delivered the book in 5 odd days including weekend, not bad. It was a Rs 125 worth transaction, shipping included. All done over a matter of 15 minutes.
The world has changed a lot in last 10 years. If you are an E-commerce expert then please try to find out that whether I am one of the first e-commerce customer or not.