Sterling Publishers
April 2009
Vol. 3 No. 5 April 2009



Contents
EDITORIAL
ONE TO ONE - “I studied the total business and took the unfriendly stand of selling books on cash basis to one and all” says Sunil Mehta

NEWS ITEMS
Say Cheese!
Jaypee-Highlights
Recession Blues
Open Sesame
Book publishing training
Staff training at NBT
INDIAN BOOK INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS
Karnataka Publisher’s Association
Bombay Booksellers & Publishers Association
Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Prakashak Sangh
Marathi Prakashak Parishad












Dear Publishing Professionals,


April will see the occurrence of London Book Fair from 20-22nd April. It is for the first time that India is the Market Focus country at the fair. More than 90 exhibitors—publishers (55), printers (22), Content developers/e-books (8) and Publishing Organisations (5) from India will be exhibiting at the Fair. It is hoped that it will give the exhibitors an opportunity to strengthen their existing networks, resulting in more trading of rights and increased exports of Indian books and printing services.

Our printers – publishing service providers and content developers have made India a favoured publishing destination for international publishers. Publishers from around the globe get the following advantages when working with Indian professionals

  • The twin advantage of skilled manpower at low cost
  • Superior English speaking and writing skills; making communication simple
  • The evolution of digital PDF workflows, email and high speed data transmission lines leading to efficiencies across the globe
  • Use of latest print technology

We celebrate World Book and Copyright Day on 23rd April. It was in 1995, at the 28th session of the General Conference of UNESCO that this day was designated. The resolution sought to promote reading, publishing and the protection of Intellectual Property Rights through copyright. On this day various publishing bodies, publishers, booksellers, celebrate the day with book releases, talks, book reading sessions and exhibitions to celebrate the day with pomp and show. I hope there will be more activity around the occasion, this year.


There is no data available on the book industry’s various associations/ federations/ NGO’s/ government agencies working for the growth of the industry. We have prepared a questionnaire for collecting the data on the bodies working in this direction. We have started receiving the replies and are giving the information from this issue.

Last month, on my trip to Shirdi via Poona I interviewed Mr Sunil Mehta, a leading Marathi language publisher who revolutionized Marathi publishing by marketing books on cash basis, publishing translations of international bestsellers and also introduced new subjects to Marathi readers.

 








“I studied the total business and took the unfriendly stand of selling books on cash basis to one and all” says Sunil Mehta

Q. You are known to have revolutionised Marathi publishing. How did you go about it?
A.
My father initiated the business in Kolhapur in 1965 and started a branch in Poona in 1976. I joined the business in 1986. Before I joined, my father Mr Anil Mehta was publishing books in Marathi and he used to offer credit, sometimes unlimited, to booksellers around Maharashtra. On my joining the business as a Commerce graduate my father handed over the reins of the publishing house to me and stationed himself at our ancestral town Kolhapur and continues to direct operations from there.

I studied the total business and took the unfriendly stand of selling books on cash basis to one and all. The immediate effect was the fall in sales from 30 lakhs in 1986 to 20 lakhs by 1991. But here I must confess that my father never interfered in my policy and rather gave me full support. By doing this I also started publishing the bestselling authors that were in demand and which helped me in going ahead. By 1994, our publishing house was back to making 30 lakhs a year sales.

After seeing the success of my system the other Marathi publishers also started following the practice and this really helped revolutionize the Marathi Publishing Business.


Q. How many new titles and reprints do you publish each year?
A.
We publish around 160 new titles of which 90% are translations and 10% are original works in Marathi. Of the new titles, 60% are a work of fiction. We also publish books on well-being, philosophy, religion, self improvement which have also started selling among Marathi people. We publish approximately 300 reprint titles each year with a print run of 2,000-5,000 copies. We have published about 2,000 titles in Marathi by now.

Q. You have been a pioneer in publishing best sellers in Marathi. How are these received in the market? Which are the bestselling authors you have published?
A.
We took a risk in translating bestsellers in Marathi but we are happy that these books are selling well in Marathi as well. We have published the books of well known authors like Alistair Maclean, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Robin Cook, Mario Puzo and recently Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup and White Tiger by Aravinda Adiga.

Our initial endeavours included Ranjit Desai’s historical fiction – Swami, Shrimanyogi (Shivaji’s Biography) and V S Khandekar’s Yayati. Of these we sell approximately 7,000 copies a year even now and they have become the backbone of the publishing house.

We have also translated Bandula Chandra Ratna from Sri Lanka who was shortlisted for Man Booker Prize in 2000 and Mohammad Qadra from Australia. We have also published the Chicken Soup Series in Marathi.


Q. Do any family members help you in publishing? Also, do you find time to indulge in reading for pleasure? If so, when, and which is the last book you read?
A.
My father has been my guide in publishing and still extends full support. I make the preliminary selection and then if he finally gives his consent, only then do I sign an agreement.

As to your other question, I do not find time to read for pleasure. I only read synopses of manuscripts.


Q. How do you rank yourself in Marathi literary publishing?
A.
We are one of the leading publishing houses dealing with Marathi literature and are responsible for introducing various new dimensions in Marathi publishing. We have published the works of many renowned authors like Kiran Bedi, Arun Shourie, Nani Palkiwala, Sudha Murthy, and Bangladeshi exiled author Taslima Nasreen. Many other Indian authors have been introduced by us in Marathi. We have also published Dalit literature by Deepa Mahanavar and Daya Pawar.

Incidentally, we were also the first publishers to have brought out children’s books in four colour and have 150 titles at present.


Q. You have one of the nicest publishing showrooms and office. From where did you get the idea/ inspiration for it?
A.
For this I give credit to my visits to Delhi and Mumbai publishers.

Q. Tell me something about your website and online selling.
A.
We are one of the first Marathi publishers to go online for selling purposes. Our website is updated every alternate day. We accept credit cards and we have dedicated customers as well who buy all our books. Our monthly sale on the website is around Rs 15,000-20,000.

Q. Do you also export Marathi books? If so, where?
A.
Not yet, but our books are being exported through other distributors. We are applying for the membership of CAPEXIL and will start our direct export as well.

Q. How do you run your magazine Mehta Marathi Granth Jagat? What is it’s circulation and readership?
A.
We publish 15,000 copies ever month and it is mailed to various public libraries in Maharashtra. We have 3,000 paid subscribers and the annual subscription of the magazine is Rs 150. We cover Marathi literary news, new releases, interviews with authors and book reviews.

We also publish our catalogue every month.


Q. What is the concept of T Book Club and how is it getting along?
A.
We have 900 members at the moment and they pay Rs 50 annual subscription for membership and they have to buy six of our translated titles at 50% discount every year.

Q. In your opinion, has Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) boosted Marathi Language Publishing? If so, how?
A.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has boosted Marathi language publishing in a big way but we are not a part of this. There are many small publishers catering to the demand created by the initiative but they are not publishing good quality books. We are not in the business of supplying books to the government and therefore are in direct contact with the reader.

Q. How many new Marathi language books are being published annually?
A.
Around 3,000 new titles on various subjects are published each year in Marathi.

Q. Do Marathi publishers use ISBN and barcoding? What effect has it had on the business?
A.
Today all Marathi publishers use ISBN. It helps in exports and in supply to United States Information Service as they do not buy any books without an ISBN. They are also introducing barcoding as it helps with the sales at chainstores, especially at Crosswords.

Q. When you visit International Book Fairs what is your agenda?
A.
To meet new publishers who have no knowledge about India and to establish networking with them and buy rights.

Q. What is the impact of globalisation on Marathi language publishing?
A.
Globalisation has certainly improved the production quality of our books. We have been able to introduce new subjects in Marathi, such as Self-help books, and these are now sold in greater numbers. This has boosted their translation and we have been able to develop an efficient team of translators and editors for the purpose.

Q. How do you think shopping mall culture has increased the sale of regional language books?
A.
With this culture the display area of books has increased and regional language books have better sales in the regions they belong to, as well as across the country, thereby boosting their publishing.

It has also affected the work culture, in that, we learnt to keep our showroom open 7 days a week from Crossword. Also as Crossword is open up to 10 pm we are also planning to prolong our working hours.


Q. The training course started by Poona University with Marathi Prakashak Sangh has closed down. What do you think is the reason?
A.
It was stopped due to red tapism in the University. We met the Vice Chancellor but it was of no use.

Q. How many Marathi Publishers and Booksellers Associations are there ? How many publishers are actively engaged in Marathi language publishing and who are these?
A.
We have two Associations – Marathi Prakashan Parishad and Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Prakashak Sangh.

There are 10-15 major publishers in Marathi language; Rajhans, Mauj, Popular, Saket and Majestic, to name a few.


Q. How would you describe a good book?
A.
The book which gives a good message for the society, the reader loves to read it a number of times, where the book is recommended for every book lover and it has content and production values.

I think a good book is one which is equally appreciated by readers as well as our editors and critics, despite the subject. It should get a good response from readers, it should drive the attention of critics as compared to contemporary books as well as be a literary landmark.







Say Cheese!
Landmark Group owned by Tatas, has opened a new store, Star India Bazaar, at the Mumbai domestic airport at terminal 1B. They already have 24 stores in metropolitan cities of India.


Jaypee-Highlights
Indian medical publishing company, Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Private Limited has formed a new company in Panama, Central America. The new venture called Jaypee-Highlights Medical Publishers Inc. has been formed by acquiring Panama based company Highlights of Ophthalmology International. The acquired company was established fifty years ago by renowned Ophthalmologist Professor Benjamin Boyd. Jaypee Publishers thus becomes one of the first few Indian publishing companies to have acquired a company outside India.

Recession Blues
Osian’s literary agency, was put down in January, with its literary agent Renuka Chatterjee moving over to head Westland’s publishing house. With recession making its presence felt across the globe, publishers prefer to do business directly with authors.

Open Sesame
The German Publishers and Booksellers Association have declared that starting now foreign book trade companies can become its members. Through this measure they hope to facilitate the ‘cross-national exchange of information and experiences’. In this way foreign bookstores, publishers, wholesale stores and publishing representatives can directly take part in the main gathering of the Association. They can become part of the partnership program “Seitenreich” (Page Rich), with special conditions chosen by the cooperation partners and use the reduced ad rates for the branch magazine “BORSENBLATT” for the German book market and also access the internet platform “My Borsenverein” for greater information. The criteria for admission can be seen on the website http://www.boersenverein.de/de/portal/Internationale Mitgliedschaft/309498

Book publishing training
At the valedictory function of the month long publishing training programme of the NBT, the Director of the organization, Ms Nuzhat Hassan, said, “Books play an important role in our society and hence we as publishers owe a certain responsibility to the society.” The participants lauded the course as being effective, affording participative interaction through case studies and a comprehension of the need for coordination and collaboration between various departments in a publishing house that seem disparate at a cursory glance.

Staff training at NBT
The group “D” staff of NBT underwent a training cum orientation programme at Nehru Bhawan. The programme has been designed to enhance the skills, efficiency, communication between departments and the smooth performance of everyday functions at the institution.








Karnataka Publisher’s Association
(R) (1975) • President: Dr. Ramakant Joshi • Secretary: Mr Prakash Kambathalli • Secretary’s office: 53 ‘Ankita Pustaka’, Gandhi Bazar Main Road, Basavanagudi, Bangalore-560004 • Email: ankitapustaka@rediffmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Phone: 26617100 • Number of Members: 69 • How often you meet: Once in two months • Activities: Organising Seminars and Workshops, dealing with Government organisations regarding problems faced by the book Industry • Brief History: Ours is the oldest publishers organisation and also it is the only organisation recognised by the Government of Karnataka. 2 Member of Kannada Book Authority a Govt. of Karnataka Body.


Bombay Booksellers & Publishers Association
(1961) • President: Mr D D Jani • Secretary: Mr B S Fernandes • Office Address: Bombay Booksellers & Publishers Association, Navjivan Commercial Premises Co-op Society, Building No 3, Office No 25, 6th Floor, Dr. Bhadkamkar Marg, Mumbai-400008 • Email: bbpassn@yahoo.co.in This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Phone: 022-23088691 • Number of Members: 200 • How often you meet: Monthly • Activities: Primary—To develop the book trade and represent the problems faced by the trade • Secondary—To co-ordinate with government bodies to Waive off any in-appropriate taxes on the book trade • Brief History: The Bombay Booksellers & Publishers Association was established in 1961 and has grown since as the only representative body of the booksellers and publishers of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. The present strength of the Association is about 200 regular members. The aim of the Association is to develop the book trade and represent the problems faced by the trade, and organize the members into a representative body. This is one of the few local associations in the country which organizes book fairs on a national level by it own resources. BBPA News is the official Newsletter of the association, brought out regularly informing the members of news and government policies affecting the book trade. Its office bearers are elected every two years at the Annual General Meeting • Do you issue a newsletter if so in which language and periodicity ? English/Monthly.


Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Prakashak Sangh
(1997) • President: Mr Vishwas Dastane • Secretary: Mr Sunil Mehta • Office Address: Mehta Publishing House, c/o Mehta Publishing House; 1941, Sadashiv Peth, Madiwale Colony, Pune-30 • Email: jyotsnaprakashan@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Number of Members: 150 • How often you meet: Once in a month • Activities: Conducting Publishing Course, Seminars, Exhibitions • Brief History: Ours is the oldest publishers organisation and also it is the only organisation recognised by the Government of Karnataka. 2 Member of Kannada Book Authority a Govt. of Karnataka Body.


Marathi Prakashak Parishad
(1978) • President: Mr Ramesh Kundoor • Exec President: Mr Arun Jakhade • Office Address: c/o Saraswati Book Company, 129, Budhwar Peth, Atharwashree Apartment, Near Jogeshwari Temple, Pune 411002 • Email: arunjakhade@padmagandha.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Phone: 24451219 • Number of Members: 300 • How often you meet: Meeting of office bearers - once a fortnight; General Body Meeting - every 6 months • Activities: Primary—Arranging different activities for enhancing the book industry like seminars, exhibitions etc. Secondary—Introducing the readers to literature by different activities • Brief History: Marathi Prakashak Parishad is an authorised association of all the publishers in Marathi. The MPP has undertaken activities: (1) Book exhibitions: The Parishad had organized a number of book exhibitions in important cities of Maharashtra as well as in rural parts of the state. While doing so such activities were arranged which allowed children to increase their interest in reading and in turn in literature. (2) The Parishad is closely associated with The National Book Trust (NBT). Every year a book exhibition is organized in association with the NBT. A representative of Marathi Prakashak Parishad takes part in each of the Seminars and meetings of NBT. (3) Representatives also take part in the Frankfurt Book Fair held in Germany. The Parishad is actively involved in guiding the members in attanding the fair. (4) A course for those interested in entering the publishing industry is organized. Last year a certificate course was introduced regarding the same in Aurangabad by joining hands with NBT. The syllabus of the graduation course in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar University is being composed. (5) The Parishad in instrumental in spreading the literary revolution across Maharashtra. The Parishad participates actively with other major associations in organizing various literary meets (Sammelan), providing book stalls for the publishers. It has strived to increase the participation of the publisher in these meets and has strived to give them a place of honour. (6) The Marathi Prakashak Parishad works along with The Booksellers’ Association, and tries to spread literature to all parts of Maharashtra. (7) Marathi Literature has a 100 year old tradition of Diwali Special issues. To improve the overall standard of these issues, ‘Diva’ (standing for Diwali Varshik) has been established. Numerous competitions organized by the Diva have increased the number of readers considerably. The Exec. President of MPP, Mr. Arun Jakhade is also the Exec. President of Diva. A formal meeting of all Editors of these Diwali Issues takes place every year. (8) MPP firmly belives that the book publishing industry stands on fours pillars - Author, Publisher, Critic and Reader. The publisher is the one who has direct relation with all of these and so MPP tries to bring mutual co-ordination between these ‘pillars’. The parishad also organises activities to build a bridge between them. (9) An Academy will be developed that will increase and improve the works in folk literature, linguistics, criticism and research. MPP has keen interest in establishing a museum for the marathi folk tradition and culture. Bhasha Sanshodhan Centre will be developed for preserving and studying tribal languages.





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