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How bookbhook helped me pivot my hobby

Someone on Quora defines a pivot as ” a significant and deliberately engineered event”. In the case of iteration, the adjustment is small while in pivot, a total revamp of the value proposition happens. There was a check-in service called Burbn before it pivoted into Instagram. Snapdeal pivoted from a deals enabling site to an online marketplace. Business models are pivoted when the original idea does not seem to be working.

But I pivoted my hobby

I recently updated the education section of my Linkedin profile with bookbhook.combookbhook is my digital learning project built around something that I have loved doing since i remember- reading.

I have used public transport to work (1.5 hours both ways) daily for the past 4 years. Almost all of this time goes into reading. I read, on an average, 3 books a month, primarily non fiction. People around me love to discuss books but they all say they do not get enough time to read. And some were honest enough to admit they did not like reading “thick” books but definitely wanted to know more. A couple of months back I was painfully made aware of the fact that I do not “have digital marketing” skills. So began the quest of combining a “human need” with a “professional gap”.

And then bookbhook happened….an email service where I share one book summary every week. In building and promoting this service, I am learning digital marketing by actually building a non commercial Minimum Viability Product. And it keeps me connected with my hobby! 

So how has my hobby pivoted? I significantly and deliberately changed my reading habit-both in content as well as style. Since bookbhook service began, I have been re-reading books from my existing collection. I am also reading differently. I now read more as an editor -identifying the critical information bits,eliminating sections that repeat a thought, taking copious notes and then synthesizing these into the lovingly curated and handcrafted weekly book summary. I have not read a single new book for a significant amount of time. And when I am re-reading books, I feel I am reading a lot more intensely, capturing a lot more thoughts and views from the same book that I had already read a couple of months or years back.

The irony is, in trying to share what I have loved reading earlier, I have stopped reading anything new. And paradoxically, in re-reading books I had already read, I am discovering completely new perspectives. Isn’t that pivoting a habit (hobby) ?

The idea of book summaries is nothing unique. I am a big fan of online book summary providers. I just thought this was the easiest way for me to learn basics of digital marketing. What do you folks think? Do share your views. I am on twitter @gagupta & @bookbhook. 

Some snapshots from the iOS app which I took help from a developer friend to bring to life.The iOS app is here

This is a cross-post from what I earlier published on Medium & LinkedIn


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  1. very interesting gaurav!

    i just loved how you were able to pivot your hobby!!

    i think this is a great way to start side projects and an amazing way to use your transit time 🙂 good luck!!

    ps: love the name – it’s very sticky!!

  2. Thank you Asha. Do try out the free service.

  3. Hi Gaurav,

    Quite an interesting idea. I remember coming across an app called Blinkist on iOS. They provide concise summaries of non fiction books. They seem to be doing pretty well. Perhaps you could have a look at it to get an idea of what people are willing to pay for. Good luck.

  4. Thanks Sridhar. Yes, blinkist is doing very well and amongst the best in this business. I am a big fan of theirs.

  5. Thank you! Just signed up!

    Tip – Should we make the name a bit more contemporary so that it appeals to a slightly larger audience that does not relate to Hindi names?

  6. Downloaded the app. These signup screens really put me off. Deleted the app

  7. Thanks for the feedback Alok. Who, in apps, do you think does sign ups in the best way? Will keep this in mind during the Android app development

  8. I had similar thoughts Alok when I first started on this as a learning project. As of now I feel this has a nice sound to it, though yes, people who are not familiar with Hindi may not understand the play of words. Being a learning project, this can definitely be revisited.

  9. Quite an interesting idea Gaurav…is it only restricted to non-fiction for now?

  10. Thanks Siddhant. Yes currently its focussed only on non fiction (that’s what I mostly read and I write down these summaries). But you think there will be more interest in fiction? e.g. any fiction book that you would want to be summarised?

  11. Ya I think fiction would also attract interest. But the trick would be to summarise without giving away the entire plot. Also would be helpful for trilogies and such. Would want a recap of a Dance with Dragons before reading the new A Song of Ice and Fire book (assuming it ever comes out).

  12. cool.

    i wish there were local book clubs too .

    i am sure you must have bumped into fightmediocrity on youtube.

    also derek sivers recently posted on twitter – his action points from quite a few books that he has read.

    have you thought of niche’ing down?

    there is also a fb group called swapbook which is active in mumbai.

    i always have this question about book summaries as youtubers don’t worry about spoilers – is giving out summaries legal ? or can it be a copyright violation?

    tc cheers,


  13. Hi Karan

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Glad you found bookbhook interesting enough to take time out. I am following almost all commercial and non commercial players in this space. Actionable books from Derek Sivers is one of them. Converting the sumamries into further smaller “bytes” (that’s what you mean by niche’ing?)is something that I see happening a lot around me. 

    there’s a lot on Quora and Reddit regarding copyright violation wrt book summaries. The overall verdict looks to be something like this “Is it legal? Yes, provided you are not lifting from the book.” I think the real issue is not about copyright but about the competition act when you start building a revenue model around book summaries. Eg blinkist, I believe, gets into partnerships with publishers. Publishers likely see this as a promotion channel.

    And thanks for introducing me to fightmediocrity

  14. Totally! but possibly not immediately

  15. hey gaurav,
    many many congrats for getting inducted in fb’s mentorship programme!! good luck and keep rocking!!!

    • Asha, It’s so good to hear from you! and thank you for your wishes and for remembering me.

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