Sterling Publishers
Vol. 2 No. 7 June 2008
ONE TO ONE - Interview with Mr. R.K. Mehra.
Editing Course Started
Landmark Stages Jeffery Archer Tour
Kolkata Book Fair: SC Issues Notice to West Bengal Government
Festival of Books for Children
New Horizon Media Raises Second Round of Investment
Print-On-Demand Publishing
Bookworm Closes as Property Increases
Alliance of International Independent Publishers
PEAK and Readworthy's new showroom
21st Condensed Course for Publishing Professionals
Karachi International Book Fair 2008
Some facts and figures on the Korean Publishing Industry
Dear Publishing Professionals,

I attended the publishers' carnival – the 28th IPA Publishers Congress Seoul 2008 from 12 to 15 May 2008. It is held every four years, and this was my second congress after the New Delhi Congress in 1992. The theme of the Congress was Diversity in a Shared Future. There were about 650 participants, the largest being from Korea – 350 and the rest were led by Japan, China and other countries from around the world. There were 26 sessions with 18 parallel sessions spread over 3 days. It was a very wellorganised event and gave enough opportunity to the participants to interact with each other. From India accompanying me were 4 more participants – Asoke Ghosh, R.C. Govil, Shakti Mallik and Ravi D.C.; Mr Ghosh chaired a session on Moving Closer Together: The Changing World of Major Publishing Partners. I feel that it is educative for publishers to attend such congresses as it enables them to keep pace with the developments taking place in the industry as well as increases their networking. It was decided that the next congress would be held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2012. I hope many of my colleagues from India too will join me.

The event was preceded by the 15th Asian Pacific Publishers Association's annual general assembly and publishing forum. This was held from 10 to 12 May. The Congress was followed by the 2008 Seoul International Book fair from 14 to 18 May. China was the guest of honour country. It is a small book fair; and though it is called international, mostly South Korean publishers participated. They had a Rights Center where even the non-exhibitor could register free of charge on first come, first served basis.

The publishing industry in South Korea is very advanced and they have developed a book city – Paju Book City, at about an hours drive from Seoul, spread in about 15,59,676 square meters. The Book City houses publishers, distributors, printers and artists. The city also boasts of a publishing club with a hotel where one can, during ones stay, enjoy the natural beauty and surroundings full of greenery. The cleanliness too is outstanding – no litter or cigarette butts strewn anywhere, fresh-smelling toilets, everything spick and span! A truly self-contained city in a self-disciplined nation! I enjoyed my visit to Paju Book City where we had our lunch along with enjoying cultural programmes. The Korean hospitality and their evening events were a treat worth relishing. This was for the first time that I had stayed for eight days in a city outside India. I have tried to share with you in this issue, statistics related to the Korean publishing industry and hope they will be of some help to you in understanding better the publishing industry in South Korea.

This month I interviewed R.K. Mehra (fondly addressed as Rajen ji) of Rupa & Co. He is the pillar of trade publishing in India and has recently released Chetan Bhagat's book The 3 Mistakes of My Life, which created a record sale in the first month of its release.

“The literature of a society is the mirror of that society,”
says R.K. Mehra. Talks to S.K. Ghai on the launch of their latest book of Chetan Bhagat – The 3 Mistakes of my Life.

Q. Rupa & Co was set up in 1936 in College Street, Kolkata (then Calcutta) by D. Mehra. What is your relationship with him and when did you join the company?
D. Mehra was my granduncle; my father, N. D. Mehra joined him in 1939 and later, I joined the company in 1968 after completing my education. Subsequently in 1970, I moved to Delhi to continue my journey in publishing.

Q. On your move to Delhi, you gave a great boost to the publishing department of the business. Share your experience with us.
I have always been an ardent follower of cricket and back then when I shifted to Delhi from Calcutta, I decided to get into publishing sports books. My experiment began with publishing Sunny Days and Idols by Sunil Gavaskar, which sold over 1,50,000 copies; this was just a precursor of things to come. This success was followed by books by Vinoo Mankad, E. Prasanna, Gary Sobers and Mushtaq Ali. I later co-published Don Bradman’s autobiography, Farewell to Cricket. These books too sold well, overshooting the print order of a common publisher. Besides sports books we also published well-known foreign authors like Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer, which gave the necessary boost to our publishing wing. Apart from having a full fledged publishing list, we are also the only Indian publishing company to have its own distribution network, thereby reaching every nook and corner of the country, and this has contributed immensely to our growth as indigenous publishers. I believe, distribution is the key to success of great publishing.

Q. You publish about 250 new titles every year. What is the size of your workforce?
We have a workforce of around 125 people.

Q. As head of the organisation, what are your responsibilities?
My most crucial responsibility is to provide early growth for the next generation. I make it a point to meet our new and old authors to celebrate our long-lasting relationship. Today Rupa runs like a well-oiled machine, while I get to indulge myself by going to the office 2 to 3 times a week. I now have the time to watch a lot of cricket (I love the game), travel, and read.

Q. Is it difficult finding fiction writers in the face of competition from multinationals?
We prefer to pick up new authors who are acceptable to the Indian readers, unlike most multinationals that are primarily interested in tapping into the Indian market for fulfilling their individual wants. This scenario brings to my mind this quote: “The literature of a society is the mirror of that society.”

Q. Tell us about the relationship you share with your authors?
Great! Fantastic! The icing on the cake is that all these authors have become good friends and I enjoy meeting them.

Q. You introduced both Anurag Mathur and Chetan Bhagat. How did you discover them?
We always try to find young authors. This all began in 1991 when I gave a small advertisement stating that we needed authors and since then there has been no looking back. Anurag Mathur and Chetan Bhagat are both very young and extremely talented. We have just published on May 9, Chetan Bhagat’s new book, The 3 Mistakes of my Life and have already sold 4,00,000 copies. We want to achieve the target of 5,00,000 copies a month. We have also published his two earlier books – Five Point Someone and One Night @ the Call Center – he is our bestselling author.

Q. You are the pillar of Indian trade publishing. What sort of an action plan do you follow to counter multinational competition?
We strive to do better all the time and try to remain focused in our endeavor to achieve our defined goals.

Q. Normally, the trend in developing countries is to first start with distribution and then advance onto becoming a publisher. Tell us about your journey.
Yes it is so, as a strong marketing network inspires you to do publishing. Earlier we were importing a number of British and American publishers but they willingly began to give the re-print rights to us because of our strong marketing network.

Q. Do you think a publisher should have his own printing unit?
This decision depends entirely on the individual publisher.

Q. Share with us the story behind the logo of Rupa & Co.
Oh, that’s an interesting story! My granduncle went to see a play in Calcutta. This play had two characters – Rupa and Sona. He liked the character Rupa and decided to name the company after it. The logo was designed by noted film director, Satyajit Ray; this was a symbol of his love for us.

Q. What is the percentage of your export sales to domestic sales?
We are very strong in the domestic market; that is, 80% of the sales are within India with 20% being exported.

Q. Do you consider the sale of subsidiary rights important, and how do you promote them?
Yes, it is very important and publishers come to us after seeing the visibility and the sale of our books.

Q. Any plans to go public?
Not at the moment but may consider in the future.

Q. Are you planning to get into e-publishing?
Yes, we wish to.

Q.What are your future plans for the growth of Rupa & Co?
We envisage a growth of 20% year by year, and we will continue vigorously in all our business efforts.

Q. What role does Kapish play in the organisation?
Kapish was completely bitten by the publishing bug and expressed his desire to join the organisation after completing his graduation. He seems to have a talent for spotting bestsellers. The success of Kishore Biyani’s book, It Happened in India and Chetan Bhagat’s success, to a large extent, can be attributed to him.

Q. Does Mrs Mehra help you with the business?
Yes, she is a part of Rupa & Co.

Q. How would you describe a good book?
Any book, which is liked by the reader, becomes a good book.

Editing Course Started
Professor Indranath Chaudhury, former secretary, Sahitya Akademi; minister culture, Indian High Commission, London; director, Nehru Center; member secretary; and academic director, Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts inaugurated the Intensive Course on Editing – a 6-day programme at the IIC. He highlighted the importance of quality in an editor’s work and pointed out how crucial it is to be professional at work these days. His belief is, “be professional or perish.” S.K. Ghai, chairman, Institute of Book Publishing in his welcoming remarks said, “There is no last word in editing and the same write up can be edited in many different ways.”

Landmark Stages Jeffery Archer Tour

Internationally acclaimed author and playwright, Lord Jeffrey Archer visited India for the first time to promote the latest of his 14 books – A Prisoner of Birth. Landmark, India’s leading book and music store, which was responsible for flying the author to India, staged a Jeffery Archer tour which included visits to not only the major metros of New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai but also to the cities of Lucknow and Pune, where their stores exist.

During his visit Archer was busy giving media interviews and signing copies of his latest book. When the media mentioned his connection with controversies, he remarked, “I don’t depend on controversies; my books sell because I am a storyteller who appeals to everybody.” Archer is keen to find publishers for his work in Indian languages. “I am read in 131 languages across 137 countries. Indian rights are very important to me. I would love to have a Tamil, a Hindi or a Malayalam version of my latest book.” We wish him luck in his endeavor.

Kolkata Book Fair: SC Issues Notice to West Bengal Government
The Supreme Court has issued notices to the West Bengal government which had taken the decision of canceling the Kolkata Book Fair – the world’s largest non-trade book fair – from being held at Park Circus Maidan in January 2008 due to environmental concerns.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, acting on an appeal filed by the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, admitted a petition challenging the High Court’s verdict and sought to know why the annual book fair in the city’s central hub could not be organised.

The fair has been in trouble for the last couple of years over its venue. It was uprooted from Park Circus Maidan – the heart of the metropolis – in 2007 on the ground of environmental pollution and had been shifted to Salt Lake area in the outskirts of the city.

Festival of Books for Children
Anwesha, a non-profit organisation, which has been annually organising book fairs in Assam, recently organised the 6th Spring Festival of Books for Children in Guwahati, Assam in collaboration with National Book Trust, India. The theme of the festival was International Year of Planet Earth. Book-related and other cultural events were held in the festival.

The objective of the festival was to expose children to the exciting world of books and inculcate the habit of reading among them. The books and events were enjoyed by both young and old. Most remarkable was the exquisitely designed and vibrant invite of the festival. The card was embellished with sketches of animals, reminding one of the famous characters from Kipling’s Jungle Book. The festival was as colourful and successful as its invite!

All books are priced between Rs 295 and Rs 395.

New Horizon Media Raises Second Round of Investment
New Horizon Media (NHM), a Chennai based multilanguage, multiformat publishing house announced that it has received an investment from Beacon India Private Equity Fund, as part of its second round of funding. New Horizon Media currently publishes both fiction and nonfiction books across genres as well as audio books in Tamil, English and Malayalam. It plans to gradually expand its publishing programme in all the important Indian languages as well.

This round of funding will help New Horizon Media put out more titles in Tamil, Malayalam and English, strengthen sales and distribution in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and enable growth of the distribution network across India for its English titles. K. Satyanarayan, director, New Horizon Media said, “This investment by Beacon India Private Equity Fund is the first venture capital investment in the Indian book publishing industry. It points to the tremendous growth opportunities for book publishing in India, with the infusion of capital into the industry.”

Print-On-Demand Publishing
Vinod Kumar Nagpal of Syndicate Binders has installed a XEROX 4110TM Printing System in his Noida unit. This will give a boost to Print-on-Demand publishing in the northern part of India.
For details conact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Bookworm Closes as Property Increases
Anil Arora is closing Bookworm – the bookstore which was established three decades ago (1977) in Connaught Place, New Delhi – when CP is getting back to being its old self – hot and happening. But Anil feels that the return he can get from the property has no comparison with the sale of books in his shop. He has two sons who are well-settled in their respective businesses and do not have the slightest inclination to enter the book business. Anil feels he is still young at 65 years to start a new venture. Keep it up, Anil!

Alliance of International Independent Publishers
The Alliance of International Independent Publishers – a non-profit making association – is organising its meeting for the first time in India in November 2008. The meeting will include members publishing in the English language. The Alliance, in addition to supporting co-publications and organizing international meetings, helps independent publishers in their undertakings and their positioning, and works with advocacy and publicity campaigns.
For further details visit:

PEAK and Readworthy’s new showroom
PEAK and Readworthy Publications inaugurated their new showroom/office at 4662/21 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002 on 23 May 2008. We wish them all the best at their new place.

21st Condensed Course for Publishing Professionals

The annual condensed course for publishing professionals will be held from 10 to 19 November 2008 in New Delhi.
For further details contact: Course coordinator at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Karachi International Book Fair 2008
The 4th Karachi International Book Fair will be held from 26 to 30 December 2008.
For further details visit:; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Some facts and figures on the Korean Publishing Industry
Korean Publishers Association This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Book Importers and Exporters of South Korea
Kumi Trading Co., Ltd. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tongyang Moolsan Co., Ltd.
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text79620 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Young Woo Trading Co. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Pearson Education Korea Ltd.

Number of Book Titles
1997: 33,610
2006: 45,521

Translated New Titles by Categories
1997: 6,129
2006: 10,482

Volume of the Korean Book Market in 2006
Copies Printed (first edition) - 119,726,681
Average Book Price per Copy - KRW 11,545 (US$ 12.50)
Market Volume - KRW 2.7 Trillion (US$ 2.8 Billion)

Source: Korean Publication Yearbook 2007

Blogs: diary style personal websites that allow readers’ feedback.
blogs published directly to the web from a phone or other mobile device. YouTube: hugely successful video sharing website.

“I have seen IBP Newsletter Vol.2 No.6 May 2008 issue. It is a good effort but talks less of Indian publishing and more of foreign publishing. Reading the newsletter it looks that Indian publishing is dead, all taken over by foreign publishers. We have a rage for white skin. Do not take it as criticism but take it as an advice.”

—Anand Bhushan
Managing Partner, Pitamber Publishing Co.

“I read your monthly newsletter and find it very interesting. I enjoy reading the interviews and all the latest news from the publishing industry. It would be great if you also include some trade/industry statistics regularly in your newsletter.”
—Bhushan Sharma
Pearson Education

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