Dial-a-Book is a Delhi-based start-up founded by brothers Mayank and Tarang Dhingra. Tarang, 25, is a final-year student at the University of Delhi.“We were trying to make ordering books as simple as ordering burgers or pizza,” says Mayank, of the initial idea. His solution was to combine cash on delivery with fast, personalized service—delivering books ordered through the phone within 48 hours. He conducted a “brief, unscientific” survey on Twitter, where he has around 1,381 followers, to find out if there could be a market for this. “I found out that people who buy books value convenience, and not just price—and what could be more convenient than a simple phone call or SMS?”Mayank started a trial run for Dial-a-Book on 25 September 2009. He purchased a SIM card for the phone number, set up the website, and began to promote it through social networking services.The customer would send an SMS or call in with his requirements. Mayank would send a confirmation, then find out how soon he could get the book from his supplier network. He’d SMS the estimated delivery time. Once this was confirmed, one of Dial-a-Book’s delivery staff (the company currently has five employees, including the two founders) would set off. Mayank still makes about 30% of the deliveries himself, and tries to keep the operation as lean as possible.Dial-a-Book began to deliver about five books a week in its first month, with volumes growing slowly. Dial-a-Book’s order volumes are now about 100 books a month, which Mayank calls “comfortable”. They’ve also started accepting orders outside Delhi, and tied up with courier services, but the Capital still accounts for 70% of their orders.“We get all sorts of requests, from eclectic music books to 18th century manuscripts,” he says. One early customer wanted a copy of Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad, which Mayank was unable to source from local suppliers. He got it shipped, by “sheer luck”, from a friend holidaying in Belgium who spotted it in a local book store.