|Vol. 5 No. 3 & 4 February - March 2011
|Dear Publishing Professionals,
On this Republic Day the Government of India honoured two of our
publishing colleagues Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon jointly with Padma
Shri Awards. I congratulate them and wish these ladies more honours in
future. They have worked together for twenty years for the spread of
feminine literature in India and the world. In the earlier years our
following book industry professionals have been honoured with these
Bhushan Shri D.C. Kizhakemuri (D. C. Books) 1999. He is the only one
honoured with this award all others have been awarded Padma Shri so far.
Shyam Lal Gupta ( S. Chand ) 1969, Shri Shanti Lal Jain (Motilal
Banarasidas) 1992, Shri Dina Nath Malhotra (Hind Pocket Books) 2000,
Shri Gyan Chand Jain (BPB Publications) 2002 and Shri Tekkatte Narayan
Shanbag (Strand Books) 2003. Shri Ravi Dayal (2007) posthumously. Please
update me if i have skipped any body's name.
I have interviewed Urvashi Butalia for One to One in May 2007 and interviewed Ritu Menon after the announcement of the award.
copyright amendments are with the parliament and we do not know whether
these will be passed in this budget session or postponed to the next
session. Different professionals have different views I have covered
some of them in the following pages. The basic issues are:
* The proposed amendments allows free import of copyrighted works from other countries.
A copy of a work published in any country outside India with the
permission of the author and imported from that country into India shall
not be deemed to be an infringing copy.
have been subscribing clipping service from the last few years but now
60% to 70% clippings are on ebooks, online services or on digital
publishing earlier days it were on book reviews, bookfairs or book
releases. They say coming events cast their shadows before so the
digital publishing is here to stay and will increase with the passage of
Pai of Amar Chitra Katha passed away at the age of 82. He was fondly
called Uncle Pai by the children. His contribution of bringing
fascinating treasure trove of Indian mythology to the attention of
children in the form of comics will be remembered for eternity.
with Ritu Menon, Managing Director, Women Unlimited in conversation with S.K.Ghai
Congratulations to you on being awarded the Padma Shri Award - an
honour and recognition of the continued efforts that you have put in
towards the cause of gender studies and publishing.
Q. How did you feel on getting the news about the award?
I never expected it, but was happy that the cause for which we have
been working for the last 27 years has been recognized by the Government
Q. How did you come into publishing?
I did my Masters in Literature from Vassar College, in New York, in
1969. I was looking for an opening but there were not many options for
someone with a literature degree. I joined Doubleday, a large trade
publisher in New York, the same year, in their market research division.
This was one of the happiest accidents in my life because I’ve remained
in publishjng ever since!
Q. How did the thought of women’s publishing come to you?
I came back to India in 1972 and joined Orient Longman where I worked
with Dr. Sujit Mukherjee and Raja Rameshwar Rao. I left in 1974 and
joined Vikas Publishing House and worked there till 1984. At Vikas I
started the feminist imprint, Shakti, in 1982 and we published quite a
few titles. Bikram Garewal, our common friend, introduced me to Urvashi
Butalia who was then working with Oxford University Press. She later
went to London where she worked with Zed Books; and some time in 1983
Bikram told me she was planning to return, to set up a publishing outfit
here. I wrote to her to say I was very interested to hear about this,
she wrote back saying, that’s wonderful, so we decided to leave our jobs
and start Kali for Women. Our focus was on women, of course, from a
feminist perspective, and our strong links with the women’s movement I
think contributed to the success of our publishing. We were able to
break even in the first 2-3 years. We were also connected to the
international women’s movement which helped us a lot in marketing our
books and copublishing in various countries.
Q. You are known for taking up the cause of women authors, any particular reason?
Well, most research on issues from a feminist perspective was being
done by women but was not being given much importance, so we thought we
should provide a forum for it, as well as for material from the women’s
movement. We also commissioned anthologies, multi-author books,
translations from different languages biographies, autobiographies, and
general interest non-fiction.
Q. When and why did you break up with Urvashi Butalia?
We had worked together for 20 years and during this time we found that
our styles of operating were quite different. In 2003 we decided
amicably to work independently, with the understanding that we would
continue the work of Kali, which we are doing, sometimes even
co-publishing under a joint imprint with Kali.
Q. What are the main things you look at in a manuscript before accepting?
The first criterion is that it has to have a gender perspective and
analysis. It should also present new research on issues — environment,
religion, development, health, media, violence, fundamentalism, and so
on – and of course it should be well written and presented.
Q. You are a writer and a publisher. Which role do you enjoy the most?
Ans. Very difficult to say, I like both, it’s a happy conjunction. One reinforces the other and I think both benefit.
Q. You are successful in marketing subsidiary rights internationally. What is the key?
Well, a couple of things. One is our links with women’s movements
across the world; this is a network that spreads the word, which is very
important; plus an old association with trade and university presses.
By now they know what they can expect from us, they are assured of a
certain quality. Plus most of what we publish is original research,
often path-breaking. That helps, too.
Q. How would you describe a good book?
Ans. A good book is one which endures, one that changes the way you think.
Q. What are your views on digital publishing?
It will affect print publishing but not in the near future, at least
not in India, in the social sciences and humanities. Maybe in STM it
will be more evident, but it’s still in its infancy here.
Q. What are your views on globalisation in publishing?
Well, I think globalisation has hampered the growth of independent
publishing and bookselling, worldwide, and when the independents are
hard-pressed then midlist authors feel the crunch. It’s not good for
diversity, what’s threatened with globalization is bibliodiversity,
voices on the margins, voices of dissent.
Q. Apart from looking & reading manuscripts, do you read & what is your favourite subject?
Ans. I love non-fiction, biographies, travel writing, books of current interest, political trends. And thrillers!
Q. Are you writing any book now?
Ans. Yes, I am writing a biography of Nayantara Sahgal.
Q. What makes your day - a big order or a good manuscript?
Ans. Reading a piece of writing that is just right.
Q. How do you market your books?
Ans. Not well enough, marketing/promotion is always inadequate.
Q. How many new books do you publish in a year?
Ans. We publish 12–15 titles (new and reprint) in a year.
Q. What is Maiden Voices?
Ans. It is one of our series by adolescent girls but we have published very little so far.
Q. What is the International Alliance of Independent Publishers (AIP) and for how long have you been connected with it?
The AIP was set up in 2002 in France, and has publishers from five
language networks – French, Arabic, English, Spanish and Portuguese. The
idea is to provide an alternative to multinational corporate
publishing, internationally, by disseminating what is published by
independent publishers more widely through collaborations and
co-publishing projects. The AIP can help with publicity and promotion,
and with small grants. Its aim is to work for an alternate
globalisation, one of independent publishing.
Sonny Mehta - The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award 2011
The London Book Fair has announced that the eighth annual Lifetime
Achievement Award in International Publishing, sponsored by SBS
Worldwide and in association with the Publishers Association, will be
awarded to Sonny Mehta, Editor-in-Chief of Alfred A.
Knopf Publishers, one of the world’s most distinguished publishers. He
studied at Lawrence School, Sonawar Himachal Pradesh and is the
son-in-law of Biju Pathnaik, former CM of Orissa.
Mehta’s contribution to English language publishing is immense. He
began his illustrious publishing career in London, where he co-founded
Paladin Books and was Editorial Director of Pan Books, before moving to
New York to head Alfred A. Knopf in 1987. Long the publisher of such
renowned writers as Thomas Mann, Willa Cather, John Hersey, Andre Gide,
Albert Camus, John Updike, and Julia Child, Knopf is also the publisher
for Toni Morrison, V.S. Naipaul, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kazuo Ishiguro,
Michael Ondatjee, Orhan Pamuk, Cormac McCarthy, Haruki Murakami, Peter
Carey and Bill Clinton. Together, authors published by Knopf have won 24
Nobel Prizes, and they have also been leading recipients of Pulitzer
Prizes, National Book Awards, and other important honours.
is well known for moving in with Douglas Adams to make sure he finished
his book So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. He is also famous for
buying Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho after Simon & Schuster
refused to publish it at the eleventh hour.
Sonny Mehta said:
“I am honoured to accept this award from the organisers of The London
Book Fair and flattered to be following in the footsteps of such
distinguished past recipients. As I see it, my job has always been to
champion the work of the authors I publish. And so, on this occasion, I
would like to sincerely thank all the writers who have become such an
important part of my life, both personally and professionally. Some of
them are highly acclaimed and widely read; some, alas, have not yet
found the readerships they deserve. But regardless of their appearance
on any best-seller list or their selection for any award, these writers
are a true inspiration. I consider myself fortunate indeed to be their
Lifetime Achievement Award recognises an individual who has made a
truly significant mark in the sphere of global publishing. It is open to
publishers, agents, editors, scouts and anyone else involved in
international publishing from any country in the world, and has
previously been awarded to Lord Weidenfield, Weidenfield and Nicolson,
Christopher MacLehose, now of MacLehose Press, John Lyon of Little,
Brown (posthumously), Lynette Owen of Pearson Education, Peter Mayer of
The Overlook Press/ DuckworthPublishers, Drenka Willen, Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt,and last year to Antoine Gallimard, Éditions Gallimard.
Hochman, President, Association of Authors’ Representatives and LBF
Advisory Board Member, The London Book Fair Advisory Board, said:
“Knopf has long been a leader in publishing books of lasting quality,
and at its helm Sonny Mehta has been steadily an international
tastemaker, innovative publisher, and believer in the power of the
written word. Sonny has managed to hold to the highest standards of
literary excellence and continues successfully to sell these books into
an increasingly challenging market. He remains a world leader in
identifying and promoting literary talent and we are proud to be
awarding to him The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award for
LBF Newsletter 8th March
Pearson buys controlling stake in TutorVista
Pearson has paid $127m for a controlling stake in educational technology company TutorVista.
Bangalore-based company supplies digital content to around 3,300
classrooms across India and provides online tutoring to approximately
10,000 students per month. It also operates a network of 60 centres
across southern India that deliver English language coaching courses for
university entrance exams as well as services to primary and secondary
said the acquisition supports its goals of building companies in
fast-growing markets. It said: “TutorVista will be integrated into our
education business in India and will enhance our presence in the school
market in India and in tutoring across the globe in schools and higher
The publisher said it expects a return on investment in 2012, its first full year since acquisition.
CEO Marjorie Scardino said: “TutorVista is an innovative and effective
education company that we have worked with and respected for several
years. This acquisition - which we believe is the largest transaction in
education in India by any company - signals our excitement about the
vitality of India’s education sector.”
was founded in 2005 by Krishnan Ganesh. Pearson acquired a minority
stake in the business in June 2009 and this transaction brings its
equity investment in the company up to approximately $139m.
Aitken Alexander Associates (AAA) British Literary Agency comes to india
Alexander Associates (AAA) has represented literary heavyweights such
as Germaine Greer, Shiva Naipaul, Paul Theroux, JD Salinger, Harper Lee,
and Aatish Taseer and is the first British literary agency to come to
India. They have appointed Shruti Debi, who has earlier worked with
Picador India as a senior agent and director of India operations.
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