Sterling Publishers
Vol. 2 No. 3 February 2008
ONE TO ONE - Interview with Ms. Mita Kapoor
Lahore International Book Fair postponed


Dear Publishing Professionals,

A biennial event of the industry, the biggest in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East is being held from 2nd February to 10th February 08 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. This is the 18th New Delhi World Book Fair, a mega event in Indian publishing. It is an event which publishing professionals look forward to with interest and anticipation. Apart from being a selling fair, it has also started attracting trade visitors from the
SAARC countries, South East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. This year Russia is the guest of honour country and we understand that a delegation of German publishers is also visiting the fair. The Indian market is growing day in and day out as the retail space is increasing many folds due to the arrival of shopping malls in major metros, state capitals, and big and small towns in the country. This will certainly give an impetus to the books and will establish a productive relationship between the publishers, book sellers, and distributors on the one hand and the professionals, intellectuals, and academicians on the other. I think that is the reason why the trade visitors have increased and are landing at the Book fair for strategic tie-ups.
During this time, the Kolkata Book Fair and the Vijaywada Book Fair will also be happening.
Have an exciting time at the book fairs and share your experience with us!
In January 2008, I visited Vientiane the capital city of Laos (land of a million elephants), and found that most of the bookshops were buying and selling second-hand books. A government bookshop selling textbooks and a modern bookshop by the name of Monument Books in the capital with a branch in Luang Prablang, Laos were the only two worthwhile bookshops in the country. Publishing too in the country is in
its infancy and most of the books available are printed and published in Thailand. This land-locked country situated in the Mekong Valley, shares its borders with Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China, and Myanmar. A country with a nascent tourism industry and inhabited by Buddhists has a deliciously relaxing atmosphere. The visit was truly a rejuvenating and revitalizing experience for the mind, body, and soul!

This month I interviewed Mita Kapur a media personality and CEO of Siyahi literary consultancy. She has been responsible for organising Jaipur Literary festivals in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Lately literary agencies are coming up and now we have a few in numbers, more the marrier for the industry.
Penguin and HarperCollins had a game of cricket recently and the Penguins won the match. A nice way to spend time away from publishing!
Are you listening and planning professionals?

Kolkata Book Fair has been cancelled due to the pollution issue by the High Court of Kolkata.
A bad news for the industry.
Translations are the next big thing for the Indian publishing industry. Hmm, We Women are used to multi-tasking.

Q. How did the idea of starting a Literary Consultancy come to you?
It starts with more than a couple of factors – sensitivity and respect for creativity and the pain a writer goes through while creating a book. If their manuscripts are left lying on a publishers table for a simple reason like lack of time (which is completely understandable), a literary agent steps in to facilitate and fill such gaps. We have talent brimming in our country and as a literary agent I feel, if we could work on each manuscript to create something wonderful by going into the depths and intensities of each book, giving the author detailed editorial and literary feedback, we’d be contributing to the growth of India’s contemporary literature. Added to this, was a growing feeling of helplessness and discontent that I sensed among writers writing in the Indian languages – the need to build up on the latent markets for translations as well the need to recognize the power, potential and prowess of literature in our languages – these are our wealth, and to preserve and perpetuate them we must give them a global platform. So Siyahi was given birth to, with a group of us who feel passionately about this – Namita Gokhale, Neeta Gupta, Pramod Kumar, Jaya Bhattacharji, Dr Nirja Misra and an extremely able and proactive team of enthusiastic editors.

Q. When did you start and how is it going?
We started in April 2007 at the end of the month. It’s been exciting – reading manuscripts, editing, discussing. I’ve gained a lot in terms of human value; bonding with some amazing human beings, learningfrom them. We are working on eight or nine manuscripts right now, three books are being translated and have just got two contracts done; we are a little slow but we are doing so on purpose… I’m not in a hurry.

Q. When do you start working with an author and at what stage? Which are the authors you are representing now?
We accept submissions, read through manuscripts, decide whether we can work with them and get back to the author accordingly. Once we accept a manuscript, we give the author our feedback; thus begins the process and the shape of the manuscript evolves. We are working with Uma Parmeswaran, Anju Kanwar, Shubhangi Swarup, Pankaj Sekhsaria, Jugal Mody, Taj Hassan, Dipalle Parmar, Vijay Lakshmi Chauhan and a couple more.

Q. How does it work commercially?
Commercially, it’s going to take a little while till it starts working out.

Q. Do you charge lump sum or do you take a commission on royalties? If so, how much?
We charge the normal rates of commission like all literary agents do.

Q. Any experiences with the authors that you would like to share.
We have shared moments – our authors become a part of our Siyahi family...we bond and have fun working together.

Q. Are you representing the Indian author’s internationally or are you only encouraging translation among Indian Languages?
Yes, we will be representing authors internationally – when we talk of cross translations, we mean both – within the country and globally as well.

Q. How many works have you already signed with the publishers?
We have Sampurna Chattarji and Karthika Nair’s books coming out with Harper Collins soon.

Q. How would you describe a good book/manuscript?
Well, that’s a tough one. I decide on the strength of each, and the strength of each book varies so the deciding factors also vary.

Q. What do you think are the strengths of a good manuscript?
I should feel and sense that the author has lived within the world of his/her book and yet has remained outside of it to give the plot, the characters, the context, the language, turn of phrase and stylistic expression a fair equation. If it is research based, then how deep and intense has the author gone also matters. A lot of it is also played up by instinct... that’s why I prefer to treat each manuscript as special.

Q. You also organise annual literary events in Jaipur. How do they help your literary agency?
Till now, I have done the Jaipur Literature Festivals for 2006 and 2007, building them up and directing them with Namita Gokhale and Pramod Kumar, purely as a volunteer. Translating Bharat is the first such event being done by Siyahi, with Namita being the Founder Director – with the basic concept being the aim with which we began Siyahi. Translations are the next big thing for the Indian publishing industry. Its time to get geared up and put our best foot forward.

Q. How is the Siyahi Conference different from the Jaipur Literary Festival?
We are different. Our focus is on publishing, on languages, on oral traditions, on understanding copyright issues, on fusing the market forces with the creative aspects, on presenting those areas of Indian literature which are little known, the North-eastern languages this time...we’ve tried to knit the country together...though the vastness does not permit the knitting to be without holes, we’ll fill these gaps by and by.

Q. Are the participants not the same? Is it not difficult to keep up the interest of the audience?
Of the 50 or so panelists we have over a packed two-day conference, only five or six of them are common – publishers like Ravi Singh, Marc Parent, Urvashi Butalia and a couple of other authors – the focus is entirely different, so there is no overlapping and to keep the interest of the audience is not difficult; our USPs are different so there is no worry.

Q. Are you planning any literary events internationally? Where and when?
Yes, we are. We have a couple of proposals we are working on at the moment. Once it is formalised, will let you know.

Q. Are you writing any book yourself or do you only encourage?
I am working on a book…should finish it this year hopefully.

Q. Tell us something about it.
The book is a nonfiction.

Q. Can you throw some light on your journey from graduation to Siyahi?
It is a long story and pretty much conventional…

Q. Does you business affect your personal life?
Hmm, we women are used to multi-tasking. As a freelance writer, my family and I are used to eccentric routines, so Siyahi’s work being added on has come naturally with the flow.

Orient longman loses suffix - Longman
Orient Longman, the country’s leading textbook publisher, will have to drop its suffix – Longman after having lost out to Pearson Education group of the UK, who reclaimed the rights of the Longman brand in India.

Pearson will pay Orient Longman two million pounds which will cover their legal costs and the cost of rebranding. They will return the 33 percent shareholding that they have in Orient Longman free of cost. Also, the three nominees they have on the Orient Longman board of directors will resign.

An out-of-court settlement was reached between them and now the Indian company will come up with a new brand name in the next two months. (For details see there website)

RPG scripts foray into publishing
The Rs 12,000 crore RPG Enterprises, a conglomerate that is into power generation, distribution, retailing, automotive tyres and entertainment is ready to diversify into publishing, starting with magazines.

The foray into publishing will be spearheaded by Saregama India. The objective behind this venture was to create an effective and profitable media business capable of fulfilling the needs of a new generation of Indians who are set to play a lead role in the world and make India a leader in realms of ideas that matter.
It is learnt that Saregama is in talks with international publishing houses for strategic tie-ups that will enable it to bring in a clutch of foreign magazine brands into the country.

Source: DNA Money

Popular launches Disney storybooks in Hindi and Marathi
Popular Prakashan has entered a licensing agreement with Disney to launch titles in Hindi and Marathi of classic storybooks like: The Jungle Book, Aladdin, The Lion King, Winnie the Pooh, Bambi, Cinderella, Tarzan and Peter Pan.

Mills and boon drops anchor off Indian shores
Harlequin Mills and Boons India Pvt. Ltd., has launched 3 series: Modern, Romance, and Desire in India on the eve of its centenary year, 2008. They have released 10 titles priced at Rs 99/ each and will be releasing a set of 10 titles every month. For more details please visit

Penguin, HarperCollins scout blogs for book ideas
The publishing houses have now zeroed in on the ‘blogosphere’ to hunt for India’s next big writing sensation. The 13,000-crore domestic publishing industry is keenly watching and waiting for a few celeb story tellers from amongst the bloggers.

Penguin India has commissioned Meenakshi Madhavan to write a semi-autobiographical novel based on her blog “The Compulsive Confessor.” The book is about a single girl’s experience in the metro. Similarly, HarperCollins India too is keeping an eye on some bloggers.

Globally, ‘Blooks’, loosely defined as books that emerge from blogs are becoming an established trend, with even a ‘Blooker Prize’ at play for bloggers migrating to the publishing world. In India, popular blogger Annie Zaidi’s book on poetry Crush hit the stands sometime back. Though such blooks cannot boast of very big sales numbers, the future of such books is bright. It intends to step up publishing e-books or blooks going forward.

Source: Economic Times
Travel Publishers extending content to cell phones
Some years ago, the Rough Guides and Lonely Planet series of travel books, rival bibles for the footloose and fancy-free ventured onto the Internet; but it wasn’t a smooth ride. Guidebooks were soon overtaken online by Internet-era upstarts like TripAdvisor.

Travel publishers are now trying to catch up. They are increasingly moving their work onto the Internet and are also continuously spreading their content and brands into new areas like mobile services, in-flight entertainment systems and satellite navigation devices. Travel guidebooks too are getting a makeover.

The easy availability of travel information online may indeed have cut into the sales of guides to mainstream destinations.
Lonely Planet and Dorling Kindersley are both trying to weigh each other on who grabs the bigger share of cyberspace revenue.

DNA Money

IFRRO delegation visits india
A four-member delegation headed by Peter Shepherd, President, IFRRO accompanied by Olav Stokkmo, Secretary General, IFRRO; Bruce Funkhouser, Executive Director, Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. USA; and Caroline Morgan, General Manager, Copyright Agency Limited, Australia visited New Delhi on 17-18 January 2008 in an effort to patch up differences between Copyright Clearing Agency of India and Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation. They met both individually and jointly. Both the parties are in a legal battle from the last few years. Let’s hope something positive will come out of it.

Password, new bookshop in Srinagar opened
With the situation in the Kashmir Valley fast returning to normalcy, new ventures have started coming up. Manzoor-ul-Haq, proprietor Password (a House of Wattan Publications) has set up the bookshop at Regal Chowk. He said, “Password is basically a mission to develop literary taste among the masses. We believe in providing our customers with the best of books.” The bookshop is an open shop where customers can move around and select a book of their choice. A welcome initiative!

e-tailing market expected to grow
According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB report, the e-tailing marketwas worth Rs 850 crore for 2006-07 and it is expected to grow by 30%, touching Rs 1,105 crore in 2007-08. However, the buying pattern of Indian online consumers has changed drastically over the years. From CDs and books shopping, consumers have started to buy more expensive products such as mobile phones, MP3 players and travel tours.

Marathi literary meet
The President, Pratibha Patil inaugurated the 81st Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (literary conference), Sangli in south Maharashtra on January 19, 2008. The four-day conference attracted renowned Marathi poets and writers for literary debates and discussions. Several cultural programmes on Marathi literature were organised as part of the event.

Vodafone crossword book award 2007
Crossword has invited entries for their Book Award 2007 from publishers across the country.

The winner of the 2006 Award for English Fiction was Vikram Chandra for Sacred Games and the prize for the best work in the English Nonfiction category was won by the author Vikram Seth for Two Lives with the Popular Award title going to Kiran Desai for her book The Inheritance of Loss. (For details please visit This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

PG diploma in book publishing by IGNOU & FIP
The Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) signed an MOU on January 14, 2008 for designing and developing a PG Diploma in Book Publishing. The University hopes to commence the diploma from the July 2008 session. The diploma would cater to the needs of the publishing industry in India on the one hand and training, placement and certification needs of IGNOU learners on the other.

CBSE sharpen creative skills of students
Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced a course in translation and creative writing in classes XI and XII. This course will be optional for the Higher Secondary students, the teaching of which will be introduced in the coming 2008-2009 session. The course aims at identifying and discussing basic concepts and problems in the area of translation studies, language and social contexts, original writing, language development and editorial writing. The course is not language specific.

New Publishing Terminology
International Standard Text Code (ISTC)

IFRRO and Consortium partners signed a formal cooperation agreement in December 2007, which will drive forward the development of an internationally recognised voluntary numbering system to help identify works such as poems, journal articles, short stories and scientific texts. This system will help in identifying and distributing the funds so collected by reprographic societies all over the world. (For details please visit

Lahore International Book Fair postponed
The Lahore International Book Fair has been indefinitely postponed due to the atmosphere of political uncertainty and instability prevailing in the country.

Bestseller in the making: Benazir Bhutto’s New Book
Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West, the name of the new book written by former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto written prior to her assassination on December 27, 2007 is expected to be a bestseller. The book is part political treatise and part memoir of the first woman elected prime minister of a Muslim country. The book had to be published later this year but delivery of the manuscript has been taken by HarperCollins and it is now being rushed to get it into print as quickly as possible and is expected to appear on shelves as early as next month.

Source: Business Standard

Jaya Bhattarcharji
Jaya Bhattarcharji joined as Managing Editor, Journals at Routledge, Taylor and Francis recently. She moves from Zubaan Books where she was Editor.

Michael Moynahan
steps up to Chairman of Random House, New Zealand and becomes Managing Director of Random House India (established in 2005) as well. He moves to his new position from being Managing Director of Random House, New Zealand. He continues to report to Brian Davies, Managing Director, overseas companies for Random, UK.

Sonny Mehta, Chairman of Random House India says, “Local publishing is currently a major focus for Random House India and as titles such as The Music Room and Great Speeches of Modern India demonstrate, the local list is already achieving both critical and commercial success. Given Michael’s strong track record in growing local publishing at Random House New Zealand, I am confident he will give even more impetus to this key area of our Indian business.”

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