Sterling Publishers
Vol. 6 No. 7-8; June- July 2012
ONE TO ONE with R.K.Gupta, a leading educational publisher
Dear Publishing Professionals,

June was a hot, hectic and eventful month; come july the rains are here and weather is much better.

The publishing industry remains vibrant and interesting through out the year!

The University of Calcutta in collaboration with National Book Trust and Publishers & Booksellers Guild, Kolkata has started P.G. Diploma course in Book Publishing Studies for the session 2012-2013. I hope the PGDBPS will have a good response as this is a unique course and one of its kind. Moreover, publishing is not only a respectable and financially rewarding career option but is a dynamic industry with a high demand for skilled and well-trained professionals. I am sure this course will fill this vacuum by some degree.
For more details visit their website

After holding the first Publicon last year, FICCI has announced the IInd Publicon 2012 on Digital Publishing from 3-4 September. They have invited papers on various aspects of Digital Publishing by August 10.

Mr Leonard Fernandes of Cinnamon Teal has also announced the second conference of Publishing Next in Goa to be held from 14-15 September. This time there will be more workshops, technology-sharing sessions. For details visit their website

Registration is open for both the conferences.

These developments will help in bringing professionalism to the publishing industry.

My friend Amar Nath Varma has completed 60 years in the book industry I have written about his journey in the following pages.

I have interviewed Mr Rajinder Kumar Gupta of Laxmi Publications, he is one of the Czar's of Indian publishing. I hope you enjoy reading about him as much as I have enjoyed interviewing him.

with R.K.Gupta, a leading educational publishers.
R K Gupta
Q. How did you come into publishing when you have studied Engineering and were in service in Ranchi?

Ans. Yes, I did Mechanical Engineering and joined the Heavy Engineering Corporation at Ranchi. After working for a year I was not comfortable in a job and so I resigned and joined my father’s business in 1973.

Q. Was your father in the publishing business?

Ans. My father, Late Sh. Har Prasad Gupta was working as clerk in civil services of the Indian Army. He resigned from the Army in 1946 and started Laxmi Kitab Ghar at Sonepat, Haryana as a bookseller. The partition of India took place in 1947 and all schools and colleges were closed for a year to accommodate the mass migration. There was no business and my father started distributing newspapers and magazines to sustain. As people settled, educational institutions started opening and my father’s business began. He started publishing school books, written by local authors and for local schools of the district only. He also started some textbooks in Mathematics for undergraduate classes written by local lecturers. He started a branch in Rohtak in 1960 and then in Jalandhar in 1963 as these cities were the educational hubs and whole sale markets of books of that time. With three places of selling, his self-confidence grew and he started publishing more Mathematics textbooks for under graduate classes of Panjab University. At that time there was one single university of the Punjab (Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh at present). He started with the Golden Solved Series in Mathematics and then in other subjects. My older brother Sh Suresh Chander Gupta joined my father in 1960 and I joined him in 1973. My father also started a branch in Delhi in Chawri Bazaar in 1971. In 1977, my father divided the business among his 3 sons and gave us equal share -so I started Laxmi Publications and my elder brother started Saraswati House. Our younger brother Madan Gupta was with our father. My father also started a small printing press and book binding house just to meet our requirements in 1954 at Sonepat and ran it till 1990. He passed away in 1995 at the age of 77 years. Our younger brother couldn’t continue to run these due to his health problems.

Q. How did you come into limelight as a publisher ?

Ans. After publishing of some books for schools and some Mathematics textbooks of colleges, my father thought of publishing solved series books in Mathematics for under graduate classes of Panjab University. He being an established and number one bookseller of Sonepat had knowledge on which subjects sell more. At that time the two most popular solved series in market were Kohinoor series, by Gill and Made Clear by Arjun Singh published by publishers of Jalandhar. He was looking for a well established Author. But no author was ready. Finally he took a risk on a young person of 25 years of age, N.P. Bali, who had never written a book but was popular among college students of Gurgaon as a tuitionist. At that time he had passed only B.Sc. He wrote one book on Dynamics for B.Sc. Ist year, which was part of 6 books series (Algebra, Coordinate Geometry etc) in Mathematics and was published in 1965. That book sold well in the first year itself. That boost the morale of both of us—new author and a new publisher and he completed series of 20 book on Mathematics for the classes Pre-university, B.Sc. Ist, 2nd and 3rd years (At present classes XI, XII and 2 years of B.Sc.). Within 2 years that series, named Golden Without Tears by N.P. Bali became number 1 in Punjab. After 3-4 years, my father stopped retail business and became well established as a publisher.

Q. How has your journey in publishing been?

Ans. I learnt the minute details of publishing from my father and having an engineering mind, I learnt fast. We got some books as our share from father in 1977 and started publishing school, college level text books and guide books in various subjects. Now we have 11 branches in the major state capitals of India. This way we are able to reach our customers easily and get our books adopted throughout India. We have more than 50,000 sq ft space in Darya Ganj, the hub of Indian publishing in New Delhi, for our head office and publishing units and godowns. The space is owned by us and not rented. All our branches are housed in our own properties having 70000 sq feet area all over India. We don’t believe in renting a place right from the beginning which has paid well. I am enjoying my journey in publishing.

Q. Which is your bestselling title?

Ans. We have 20-25 titles which sell more than 30,000 copies a year. However, our bestseller is ‘Fluid Mechanics’ by Dr R.K.Bansal. We sell more than 100,000 copies of this title in a year. We first published this title in 1984 and sold only 700 copies in the first year. With the passage of time and having the best content, we are now selling more than hundred thousand copies a year. The annual royalty of the author is more than Rs 80 lakhs. This book has a unique history. When I first approached the author, he was a young energetic professor of Delhi Engineering College and I asked him if he is writing any book. He told me that he is but will not give it to me as I have no standing in the market for Engineering books. I told him that the established publishers have already published on the subject and they will not be interested and even if they take it up, they will not promote it whole-heartedly whereas I will promote and go out of my way to get it adopted. On this argument he finally agreed and I gave him a token advance. The rest is the history. Both of us are happy finally.

Q. How many major publishing units do you have?

Ans. We have two -Laxmi Publications which my older son Saurabh Gupta is looking after and New Age International which my younger son Saumya Gupta is looking after. We took over the company in 2003 from an advocate Mr. Desai, partner of Mulla & Mulla Co. Mumbai. Both the companies publish educational textbooks and compete with each other as well.

Q. Do you export your books?

Ans. Yes we export all over the world but not in large quantities. Recently we have completed a World Bank project in Ethopia, for printing books according to their curriculum to the tune of Rs 20 crores.

Q. What is your annual turnover?

Ans. We have crossed over Rs 100 crores in 2011-2012 in both the companies. We have been quoted as among the 500 fastest growing companies in India by Inc, India 2011 (Indian edition of Inc. the leading US magazine that focuses on entrepreneurship and growth) and we are at number 372 according to the journal.

Q. Are you starting ebooks?

Ans. Yes , at the moment we are not that active but have started. Finally we will have to do it.

Q. Do you publish Sanskrit books?

Ans. Yes, again it has a story which I would like to share. Kurukshetra university changed the syllabus of mathematics in 1974. I wanted to have it as early as possible so that we could prepare the books well in time. I went to Kurukshetra and met a board member, Mr. Parmanand Gupta, who was kind enough to give me the same. So just to thank him I asked him if he was writing any book which I could help publish. He told me that recently Hitopadesh had been introduced in the syllabus and he could write a textbook on the same in Sanskrit. I thought about it and agreed to publish the same just to make connections with him. That book was a hit in first year itself. After that we have published many books in Sanskrit by the same author which sell reasonably well.

Q. What is your actual role in the publishing business?

Ans. I look after the editing of the textbooks, see if they cover the curriculum and take decisions on what to publish and what not to publish. Here I would like to share an experience. When I contacted Dr. R.K. Bansal in 1984 for the book; “Fluid Mechanics”, he had already worked very hard in preparing the same. When I glanced through the text I told him that you have covered the examples but have not given the theory - so the students will have to buy two books -one for theory and one for examples. But if it will cover the theory then the students will be buying only one book and also no book in market is available which has only theory. After discussions he agreed and worked for three months on the manuscript and wrote the theory part as well. The book became a best-seller instantly.

Q. Any landmark decision in publishing which paid well later on?

Ans. In 1990 Central Board of Secondary Education invited books of classes XI & XII in almost all subjects. We submitted the same and our books were approved, and we were able to sell quite a lot and continue to do so. We also published guides (Reference Books) on the subjects which are regular sellers. We don’t have to do anything and these sell automatically due to its contents. Booksellers come, pay in cash and get the books. No samples, no complementaries, no efforts in getting these recommended and selling well year after year. Our guides are popular throughout India since 1990.

Q. What according to you is a good textbook?

Ans. A book which helps the student and sells well is a good book.

Q. How is life and how it is going?

Ans. Life is fine. Saurabh is staying with me and Saumiya my younger son, who stays in Noida brings my lunch to office.

Q. Do you have any hobbies?

Ans. I used to love skiing in my younger days and formed the Ski Association of Delhi in 1982 and became it’s secretary. In 1985 a few well-known people of India formed the Winter Games Federation of India headed by Mr. K.P.Singh Deo, state defence minister Govt. of India. In 1992 I became active in this and became it’s secretary in 2002 till 2010. In 2006 I was appointed Chief de Mission for Winter Olympics Torino and again in 2010 for Vancouver Olympics.

Q. What is your daily routine?

Ans. I still work for 10 to 12 hours a day and enjoy doing the same.

Amar Nath
Mr. Amar Nath Varma made a small beginning by launching a bookshop in the by lanes of old Delhi in 1952. He started publishing Star Pocket Book series in 1958 in Hindi and Urdu. He also started make your own home library Apne Ghar Mein Apni Library Yojna. It became a success and enrolled several thousand members in a few years. Star group became a Pvt. Ltd. Company in 1969 and moved to a specious office at Asaf Ali Road in central Delhi. Star started to promote and marketing Hindi as well as other regional languages books not only in India but all over the world. Star was the pioneer in organizing a first exhibition of Indian publications in China in 1981 and opened a new market for Indian publications. In 1984, with the success of marketing Indian language books in UK and Europe started a regular bookshop in London, UK under the banner of Indian Book Shelf which is being managed by his son Sunil Varma. In 1996 started a manufacturing unit under Star Print O Bind for providing print services to publishers in the world. Star publications specialises in bi-lingual dictionaries and have brought out seventy such dictionaries in more than fifty languages. The group also started a stationery shop The Writing Shop in south Delhi in 2011 and has also started manufacturing office stationary for distribution to the corporate and in the export market. The Star group completed sixty years and is being assisted by his sons Anil Varma who looks after the bookshop and export marketing, Sanjay Varma looks after the manufacturing unit and finances. The Star group has many plans in the times to come for their growth.

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