Sterling Publishers
Vol. 3 No. 7 June 2009

ONE TO ONE with Mr Gandhi Kannadhasan, President BAPASI and Managing Director Kannadhasan Pathippagam
Publishing Perspectives – a weekly newsletter
7 th IPA Copyright Symposium 2010
Hachette India
D N Malhotra, President Emeritus FIP on FDIs
GBO Booksellers Program
Indian children’s book publishers’ delegation to Germany
Moscow International Book Fair 2009
Turin Book Fair 2010
Multinationals in regional language publishing
Books as pieces of decoration
Fabindia to sell children’s books
NBT & UNICEF strengthen oral storytelling tradition
DPB to publish Disney Comics in Hindi and Malyalam
Foreign visitors to India
2nd Intensive Course on Editing – Comments by participants
Association of Publishers in India
Tripura Publishers Guild

Dear < Publishing Professionals >,

We should be pleased that after long discussions and a number of meetings IGNOU has finally announced the admissions for the Post Graduate Diploma in Book Publishing. The last date for the receipt of application is 30th June. We hope we can now have more dedicated and mature professionals coming into the book industry.

Second Intensive Course on Editing was held from 3-10 June and this year we had 29 participants, aged from 23 to 50 years from all over India, Sri Lanka (2) and Canada (1). The participants appreciated the selection of the subjects and the faculty. We had selected young and not so young faculty members but experienced ones who have spent their lifetime in publishing i.e; Y C Halan, Sridhar Balan, B N Varma, Narender Kumar, Sugata Mukherjee, Dr Malini Sood, Dr Dinesh Sinha, Prof. N N Sarkar, Urvashi Butalia, Atiya Zaidi, Sugat Jain, Jaya Bhattacharjee, Kalyan Banerjee, Neel Mason and Chikki Sarkar. (Comments from the participants are given at the end.)

I was in Vietnam recently and visited a few publishing houses. During discussions I came to know that publishing is still state controlled and there are 57 publishing houses in Vietnam. I was pleasantly surprised that they also celebrate children’s day which is the start of their holidays, on 1st of June by organizing children’s book exhibitions, book readings, plays, competitions and many other activities involving children. In fact I missed the celebrations just by two days. Had I known earlier I would have planned my trip accordingly.

During my visit to Chennai I interviewed Mr Gandhi Kannadhasan and completed the interview on phone and email. He is a well known, successful, second generation publisher and President of Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) and of Kannadhasan Pathippagam.

with Mr Gandhi Kannadhasan, President BAPASI and Kannadhasan Pathippagam says;

A website is an investment and not an expense.
The goose is waiting to lay golden eggs.
All we need is patience,
in conversation with S K Ghai

Q. Mr. Kannadhasan, I learnt that your father was a very learned author and publisher. Can you tell us how he started and from where you took over?
My father, late Poet Laureate Kannadhasan, was a well known Tamil poet. He studied only till the 8th standard and read most of the books of Tamil literature. He contributed 8,000 film lyrics, 3,700 poems and 267 books. He was a journalist and publisher of a weekly, daily and also books.

He started the company KANNADHASAN PATHIPPAGAM to publish his works. And when I was studying Law in 1976 I took over the company, as the Law College was only held in the morning.

Q. When you came into publishing, was it your own initiative or at the insistence of your father?
It was my interest and my father encouraged and supported me. He also taught me how to proofread and edit manuscripts.

Q. You are a well established Tamil publisher. Please let us know about your publishing house and what kind of books you publish?
We are in the process of establishing ourselves. We have four branches, strategically located in Madurai, Coimbatore, Puducherri (Pondicherry) and Vellore. Our overseas branches are in Singapore and Malaysia. We are concerned about translation in those countries. By 2010 we will have three more branches and God willing, two more overseas.

Q. As you are one of the progressive Tamil publishers, an exporter, and have two offices outside India, please let us know how the inspiration came to you to start the offices and how successfully are the overseas operations going on?
As book publishers we are all fortunate that we are welcome wherever we go. As part of the Knowledge Industry we are more respected than those from other industries. My experience proves this. And our overseas branches are focused not on marketing what we have, but on what we can get from there and on giving them what they want. Hence, the market is very friendly and gives us a lot of feedback. We are still in the investing stage and returns are expected from the next financial year. There is a very good Tamil population overseas and my father commands a lot of respect from them. So the support already exists and all I have to do is to channelise it.

Q. You are the President of Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI). Please let us know when you took over this post and what are the initiatives you have taken to improve the lot of the Tamil publishing industry?
I became the President of BAPASI in 2006, unopposed. The Tamil Publishing Industry was growing and the support from the Government is enormous. I merely stood between the industry and the Government and things happened.

  1. A Bookpark in Chennai for all the Publishers and Booksellers in Tamil Nadu. Land has been provided free by the Government and State Bank of India (SBI) has underwritten the project of building. The process of allotment is on and every publishing group in the association will get a space in the park.

  2. The Government is setting up a Publishers’ Welfare Board and the budget of 2008-09 allocated funds for it. It will be active by October 2009. We want to include binders also in this segment as they do not have an association.

  3. The State Library movement was buying 600 copies of a title of Tamil books for their libraries. And our Honourable Chief Minister Mr M Karunanidhi, increased the number of copies to 1,000.

  4. The CM also increased the good books and authors award by the Tamil Nadu Government to Rs 10,000 for the Publisher and Rs 20,000 for the Author.

  5. During the Inaguration of the 30th Chennai Book Fair in 2007, our beloved CM gave one crore rupees to BAPASI, from his personal funds to create an endowment in his name and for giving cash awards of rupees one lakh each to four Tamil authors, one author from other Indian languages and one author hailing from India, who writes in English.

  6. Directorate of Rural Development is establishing 12,000 libraries in all village Panchayats. The first phase of book purchase of 5,165 titles has already been done; and the next phase is on. The purchase ratio is 85% Tamil books and 15% English books.

  7. On our request our beloved CM had issued a Government order to allot two book kiosks at each bus stand to sell Tamil books in Tamil Nadu. One will be allotted on first come first serve basis and another on the recommendations of BAPASI. All the corporations, municipalities and panchayats had been issued this G O. More than two hundred had come up and many more are in the process. Estimated 1,800 to 2,500 shops may come up by June 2010.
I am indeed very happy to say that all this happened during my tenure as President of BAPASI.

Q. Under BAPASI you organize the Chennai Book Fair. Please share with us when it began and how it has come of age?
Pioneers of BAPASI like Mr K Krishnamurti, Mr A Padmanabhan, Mr K V Matthew, Mr A Abdulla, Mr N A V Subramanian, Mr S Chandrasekar and many more are the pillars of the Chennai Book Fair (CBF). We had a very tough time in promoting the Fair. BAPASI started in 1972 and the CBF in 1977.

We began conducting the Fair with 20 participants, even in drive in restaurants. In 1985, we shifted the venue to Arts College on Mount Road and the Fair grew. In 2007, in my tenure as the President, we felt the need to grow and moved to the present venue at St George’s School on Poonamalle High Road with 525 stalls and the 32nd CBF 2008 saw 630 stalls in over one lakh square feet area, with a sale of around 15 crore rupees.

Q. You are politically very well connected with the Chief Minister and I learnt that he gave you a corpus grant. How do you utilize the same? Do you give any awards to promote professionalism in publishing?
As I have already explained we do not have an award as you had asked. But you have given me a very good idea. We honour the veterans of this industry but have no awards for professionalism. Thanks for the idea!

Q. How do you rank yourself in Tamil literary publishing? How many new titles and reprints do you publish each year?
I am walking on a very comfortable path. The path was laid by the hard work of the earlier generation publishers, many decades ago. They had cleared all the obstacles and hardships. All I do is walk and run. Our strength is in reprints. This numbers more than our new releases. We release around fifty new books every year.

Q. What is your policy on vanity publishing? Do you encourage it? If so, how many such books do you publish in a year?
As far as vanity publishing is concerned, it is born out of the ego of the writer. Because money or influence or power is involved, the publisher takes it up. But the reader knows and does not buy. So the Government buys out of the influence of the author or the publisher. So an opportunity for a good book is lost. This will be the last thing I will do as a publisher.

Q. Do Tamil publishers use ISBN and barcoding? What effect has it had on the business?
Yes, we have started using the barcode and ISBN. The process has just begun and the effects are not visible yet.

Q. How many new Tamil language books are being published annually?
As we submit to the State Library, the statistics are available from there and also from the submissions made to Delhi Public Library under the Delivery of Books Act. The mandatory requirement for our submission is around 4,500 to 5,800 titles annually.

Q. What is the impact of globalization on Tamil language publishing?
Orders from abroad and dealership enquiries. Tamil authors from abroad are keen on having their writing published here as well as in their country they are residence of. New authors, multinational players and Indian players want to enter the Tamil book publishing industry. Already Westland-Tata has come out with two titles of Sir Jeffrey Archer and he himself released the Tamil translation of his book in Chennai a few days ago. Communication with publishers abroad and authors has become effective and fast. They have started to believe in Indian enterprises.

Q. How do you think shopping mall culture has increased the sale of regional language books?
Yes, Landmark has two shops in two malls in Chennai. And they are doing well. They sell Tamil books in good quantity. Tamil books have a separate display area and it is wonderful to find people browsing through them along with English books.

Q. Many Tamil people are settled abroad. Do they help in the export of Tamil language books?
Yes, definitely. It is because of them that Tamil movies are released at the same time throughout the world. And they also import books. But there is no organized distribution network or organized retail. So, we are trying to organize this distribution and retailing. When this is in place, for export alone to the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, France, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia we will have to increase our print run by 5,000 copies.

Q. How is your publishing house meeting the social responsibility towards society?
We do certain things that are best left unmentioned, as there will not be much value in what we do or have done, if we publicize it. But to motivate others we mention a few. Our Central Prison needed books and all our titles have been given free of cost and all new releases reach them likewise. We have adopted three rural non-profit libraries and we send ours, as well as other books to them.

We take care of our employee’s children and their education. We are trying to give back to this society as this society supports us by buying our books.

Q. Tell us something about your website and online selling.
Our website is helping us to introduce us to our overseas buyer and rights sellers. Nothing much; no online trading as our books are low priced. But a website is an investment and not an expense. The goose is waiting to lay golden eggs. All we need is patience.

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?
My son Murali Kannadhasan is engaged with me in this business and sits next to me. He is an MBM from Victoria University, Australia.

He likes to publish, though he reads lesser and lesser. But reading will catch up with him I suppose. Yes, reading is for pleasure. I loved reading the book, The Secret; and I would love to publish it in Tamil. But this comes second. Reading has made me what I am now. Recently I read Sir Archer’s book translated in Tamil. Good translation and well produced. Westland- Tata had done it. I wish all good books in English could be made available in Tamil as the man in Kanyakumari also needs it.

Q. What would you consider a good book?
Every book is a good book. As the author who had penned it certainly contributed something there that will be of your interest. But we do not have the patience to read till we find what we want. It has to be on the first page. When I was a boy, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach was a talked about book. I read it without being able to understand it. But I underlined some lines. I am surprised that they reflect now in my life. All books are good. I love the pictorial edition of Kamasutra. Books are a part of my life.

Q. What is the controversy regarding the copyright of your father’s works with the state government?
This I want to forget and I know that I cannot. Our core strength is my father’s books, hence our cash bills are more than credit bills. My father passed away in 1981. One fine day I saw in the evening papers, that the Tamil Nadu Government wanted to nationalize the writings of my father. I strongly condemned the move and issued statements in papers and television channels. The Honourable Chief Minister was shocked to see this and issued a rejoinder and the move was dropped.

I was wrong in going to the Press. When the CM treats me like one of his sons and has given me all the support and encouraged me to do what all I wanted, to the Publishing Industry, I had done him a wrong. This guilt will live with me forever.

He is like a godfather to me. And I am one of the very few who call him Appa, which means father. I should have gone to him and told him about the move. His love for me is so much that he calls me by my name wherever he sees me. When he talks to me he always mentions some of the incidents he shared with my father.

This is what happens, when you are emotional and there are no elders at home to guide you. I miss my elders so much.

Publishing Perspectives – a weekly newsletter
On June 1st German Book Office (GBO) launched Publishing Perspectives, a weekly international e-newsletter. The newsletter has as its stated purpose, to help publishing compete in a global economy and advances the importance of technology and international relationships to publishing. The newsletter will be edited by renowned publishing journalist Edward Nawotka. To subscribe, log on to

7th IPA Copyright Symposium 2010
The Copyright symposium will take place in Abu Dhabi from 28 February to 1 March 2010 on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2-7 March 2010.

Hachette India
One of the biggies of the international publishing scene, Hachette has also dropped anchor on Indian shores in May this year by publishing its first title My Friend Sancho, by blogger Amit Verma. Next in the pipeline is Madhulika Liddle’s murder mystery set in Mughal India.

D N Malhotra, President Emeritus FIP on FDIs
Fiery as usual, Malhotra opposes the Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs) in book publishing as he believes that foreign publishers will eat into our cultural entity and small publishers will be wiped out of business. He feels that behind the façade of supporting fiction in Indian regional languages, these international giants will make a bid to take over the burgeoning textbook market of the country. According to him, the only hitch in the plan of the foreign publishers is the lack of penetration in the market due to the absence of an organized distribution network.
(Courtesy: The Hindu, Metroplus, New Delhi, 16.04.09)

GBO Booksellers Program
The German Book Office is instituting a week long program from 15-22 October coinciding with the Frankfurt Book Fair from 14-18 Oct with a view to giving foreign booksellers an insight into the German Book Trade. The program would also help them to efficiently import and market German books. It will help participants garner experience and build their own network. The last date for receipt of applications is 15 July 2009.

Indian children’s book publishers’ delegation to Germany
In an effort to further trade relations in publishing, the GBO took a delegation of 7 chosen children’s book publishing candidates from the Indian publishing industry to visit Germany from 17-22 May. The participants were: Madhu Singh Sirohi (TERI Press), Ravi DC (DC Books), Gaurav Ghai (Sterling Publishers), Jai Saxena (BPI), Anita Roy (Young Zubaan), Atiya Zaidi (Ratna Sagar) and Sayoni Basu (Scholastic India).

The publishers visited renowned German publishers like Oetinger, Carlsen, Campus Verlag, Beltz and Gelberg among others. This visit will hopefully result in more Indo-German publishing tie-ups, entailing the exchange of culture, knowledge and literature.

Moscow International Book Fair 2009
India will be the Guest of Honour at the Moscow International Book Fair to be held from September 2-7, 2009. This will be part of the year long Festival of India in Russia. CAPEXIL will be giving the MDA grant for participation in the Fair to its members. To make this a resounding success, the National Book Trust (NBT) has designed an Indian Pavilion—Books from India—where a collective exhibit of recent books published in India in English, Hindi and other languages will be displayed. For more details visit:

Turin Book Fair 2010
India will be the Guest of Honour in Turin Book Fair (Italy) in 2010. The fair will be held from May 14-18. FIP will organise the Indian Pavilion and will arrange the decoration and organize cultural events. The timing of the Fair is from 10 am to 10 pm on weekdays and till 11 pm on the weekend. A unique feature of the Fair is the International Book Forum, a separate area specifically meant for negotiating rights to publish/translate books. For more details visit:

Multinationals in regional language publishing
A welcome trend in bookshops and bookstore chains, is the increasing visibility of regional language books. Multinational English language publishers like Penguin and HarperCollins are dipping into the potentially burgeoning regional language market. Both now publish translations from world literature and original works in regional languages—Penguin has a tie-up with Yatra Books and HarperCollins works through its own Hindi imprint Harper Hindi. Minakshi Thakur, editor, Harper Hindi says, “When you are publishing in India, doing English where there are so many language writers and so much writing in Indian languages, it sort of feels incomplete if you don’t enter the language market.”

Books as pieces of decoration
Nowadays book buying is sometimes governed by looks rather than literary merit. More and more fancy offices and homes take the advice of their interior decorators while buying books for display rather than be guided by the literary or informative value of the tomes. As a designer puts it “Coffee table books are usually display books. If you have a cabinet, these are the ones that are displayed in front, and are not necessarily read.” Raghu Rai’s India, Bachchanalia, Still Reading Khan, Illustrated edition of Kamasutra and 88 Hussains in oil; top the list of such tomes. Even though typically the sale of such books is slow, they are after all big ticket items with prices ranging from Rs 800 to Rs 15,000.

Fabindia to sell children’s books
Fabindia has tied up with Young Zubaan and Apeejay Press to enter the world of children’s publishing. They will be bringing out new titles every month. The books have been divided into categories like Pre-Scool, Early Readers and Advanced Readers to suit various age groups from less than three years to 12 years. They are working with authors and illustrators whose works are about traditional Indian tales, colours and motifs. The price range is from Rs 50 to Rs 450.

NBT & UNICEF strengthen oral storytelling tradition
The National Book Trust (NBT) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are collaborating on a project called ‘Documenting Oral Storytelling Tradition (DOST)’. The project aims at scientifically presenting children’s stories, puzzles, legends, folk and traditional games as supplementary reading material. NBT Director Nuzhat Hassan said that this initiative is in order to “attract children to the country’s storytelling tradition.”

DPB to publish Disney Comics in Hindi and Malyalam
Diamond Pocket Books’ children’s book division Diamond Junior has tied-up with Disney for publishing Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Comics in English, Hindi and Malyalam every month. The first two issues of each are in the market already.

Sarah Odedina, publisher, Bloomsbury Children’s List will be in India at GBO for the two day “Writing for Children Master Class” workshop (3-4 July ’09). Along with Anushka Ravishankar, she will be conducting the workshop aimed at refining and deepening writer’s understanding of the children’s book market. Sarah began her career in the rights department of Penguin Books. She moved to being Rights Director non fiction and Orchard Fiction in Watts Publishing Group in 1992. As publisher at Bloomsbury she has handled the likes of the renowned J K Rowling. She has extensive experience, both in editing and publishing new authors, as well as in the selling and buying of rights.


The programme was excellently planned and organized. The course covered editing in detail as well as other aspects of book publishing.

One remarkable thing I noticed is the active involvement of the participants throughout the course. A number of queries were raised in all the sessions... I also noticed that the attendance was almost full throughout the programme.

Dr Geeta Rani Arora

I personally found the course beneficial for myself as now I am more equipped to make things better for my organization and my team; as I feel I can now guide them better... Also I liked the entire arrangement and the time management was excellent. The faculty called was very good overall…

This course... I feel will really benefit the upcoming talent and also give the industry better equipped people.

Another very important and praiseworthy point is your willingness to accommodate requests and needs of the participants… When one of the participants suggested that a real (and not virtual) trip could have been arranged to a publishing house, it took only one minute for Mr Ghai to invite participants to visit his publishing house the next day!

In a nutshell, the Course was very good, beneficial, and I feel very satisfied.

P.K. Jayanthan

The course was enriching and well planned.

Moni Singh

Indeed the workshop was an enriching experience. It gives ample exposure to the participants, especially the freshers, to the varied areas of book publishing and editing. For me it was a very insightful experience as the sessions were conducted by well experienced and well known names in the industry.

M Noushad

I have learnt so much and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.

Artika Raj

Association of Publishers in India,
(2001), President: Mr Sanjiv Goswami, Secretary: Mr Ajay Shukla, Joint Secretary: Ms Kalpana Shukla, Number of Members: 27, Office Address: C/O Cambridge University Press, Cambridge House, 4381/4, 3rd Floor, Ansari Road, New Delhi 110 002, Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
, Phone: 011-23359946, Fax: 011-23358716,, How often you meet: Monthly, Activities: The Association represents and promotes by all lawful means the interest of books, journals and electronic publishers and also protects their interest by promoting India as a preferred destination for production and BPO activities, KPOs, Intellectual Property and more importantly, appraising the learned community about the development in the Publishing Industry. • API also works together with various other Associations such as American Associations of Publishers, Publisher Association UK and helps the region in the implementation of Intellectual Property Rights and helps in better understanding of the requirements of the region as per international standards thereby opening opportunities for further investment by Global Publishers in India. • The Website is being developed to open up better communication at the global level and will also help in making our activities accessible. This website will also act as a forum for existing members to highlight their achievements and activities and would also serve as a source for news regarding the Indian Publishing environment. • API is also a member of ASSOCHAM which in turn supports API on a larger platform for liaison with the Government. • API has been interacting from the beginning with various bodies, on issues relating to printing such as piracy, EPZ etc. • API is committed to protection of copyright of their members and fighting piracy, whereby promoting a healthy business environment. • The association has coordinated various meetings of the members of other associations during their visit to India. • Brief History: Association of Publishers in India (API) was incorporated in the year 2001 and was registered under the Indian Society Act as a Society. API is a representative body of foreign publishers to deal with all matters pertaining to the promotion and advancement of the foreign publishers with a presence in India, Do you issue a newsletter if so in which language and periodicity? Yes, we used to publish one organ of ours. It used to come out twice a year. Named after ‘PUSTAK BARTA’ in Bangla language.

Tripura Publishers Guild,
(1990) President: Mr Samiran Roy, Secretary: Mr Subhabrata Deb, Number of Members: 25 Office Address: ‘Sanjib Villa’, J.B. Road, Agartala, Tripura-799001, Phone: (0381) 2307500, Fax: (0381) 2323468, Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
, How often you meet: Executive committee generally meet once in a month and general body once in a year atleast besides Extra-ordinary General Meetings may be called anytime to address different issues, Activities: Primary: To Promote Book reading habit among the mass and to introduce writings and writers of North Eastern states to other parts of India. To come under one umbrella for betterment of publishing in the state. Brief History: Established in the year 1990 with only 6 publishers of Tripura. It is an organisation for publishers exclusively. At present it has got 25 publishers as members. It has a 9 member executive committee comprising 5 office bearers. It used to organise several Book and Publication related programmes throughout the year besides organising seminars. During the National Book Week it used to organise Agartala Pustak Mela (14-20 Nov) every year for 10 days at the Agartala Rabindra Bhavan Complex. Guild organises Book Bazar during World Book Day (23rd April) every year. With collaboration from the National Book Trust India it has already organised short term Publishing Course at Agartala for 10 days also co-organised Manubazar and Dharmanagar Book Festival with NBT Collaboration. Besides this, Tripura Publishers Guild Collectively represents Tripura in the major Book Fairs of our country such as Kolkata, Delhi, Guahati, Silchar etc. Guild members used to produce atleast 300 titles every year from Tripura in Bangla, English, Kokborok (major tribal language of Tripura) and other minority Tribal Languages. Some of our member publishers used to publish science related books, History based books and some concentrate on Literature and Translation works. Do you issue a newsletter? If so in which language and periodicity? The Bangalore Booksellers & Publishers Association (Regd.), C/O. B.I. Publications Pvt. Ltd., 147, Infantry Road, Bangalore-560001,

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