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Li's big idea gets airborne

By You Nuo and Ding Qingfen (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-29 10:16
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No discount

Every quarter, there are 3,000 to 10,000 different economic and management books available for sales worldwide, but "few know how to choose the right books for their staff or their organizations", Li said.

"Wingsbook tries to be a professional book assistant serving companies."

Every quarter, Wingsbook studies and evaluates the list of newly published books globally before it draws up a menu featuring what it considers best and why. It also compiles a monthly menu of 20 books.

To get the menu, companies must apply for membership and pay a cash deposit of 20,000 to 200,000 yuan. This enables them to access books and receive a personalized service from Wingsbook.

"Wingsbook never offers discounts on book purchases. Rather, we charge fees of as high as 10 percent for each additional service," Li said.

The services target corporate clients who aspire to be more competitive in sales, marketing or brand image or who want to transform their business.

High-profile clients

Besides the uniquely offered book menus, Wingsbook has gained a certain popularity among Chinese companies thanks to the wealth of contacts Li accumulated during his decade-long stay at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Nowadays, Wingsbook has about 1,400 member companies, 52 percent of which are international, another 40 percent are State-owned enterprises and a few are private businesses. Many big names in the Chinese circle of entrepreneurs are fans of Wingsbook, and their companies are loyal clients of the book provider. Take COFCO. The nation's largest trader of grain and oil product annually spends 400,000 yuan on the book menus and services from Wingsbook for its chairman Ning Gaoning and the 16-member management team.

Li is proud of Ning's praise for Wingsbook over its quality of services. The latter said "I believe Wingsbook is the most professional" after the company experimented with other companies.

It's not just COFCO. About 12 of the 14 business units of the world's leading pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline have also employed Wingsbook as a long-term book provider.

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But that still leaves vast potential to tap. "I have been traveling around to get to know existing or would-be clients and to get them learn more about Wingsbook ever since I started the business," said Li. "I travel home and abroad every week. I stay in budget hotels to save costs on the journey because Wingsbook is still a fledgling."

Li believes one of Wingsbook's most valuable assets is the 50-member account manager team, which is responsible for working out the book menus and providing book guidance services. Each manager has either rich experience in management consulting or has worked for international companies for many years. They have to create a contact report for clients within 24 hours after an in-depth face-to-face meeting.

It is not an easy task, but it is well paid. "It usually takes three to fours years to develop a qualified client manager. But Wingsbook treats them well, raising the salary annually by 10 percent," Li said.

Wingsbook has opened 17 book stores in China's major business schools, including Tsinghua University, Peking University and Fudan University. "We want to have 10 more stores this year, probably including two in Zhongnanhai and the Great Hall of the People," said Li.

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