Sterling Publishers
Vol. 3 No. 12 November 2009
 
 
Contents
EDITORIAL
ONE TO ONE with M G Arora, Chairman Universal Law Publishing Company Pvt. Ltd. and Universal Book Traders 
NEWS ITEMS
  DSBPA: New Office bearers for 2009-2010
  Gujarat High Court lifts ban on Jaswant Singh`s book on Jinnah
  Penguin launches Hamish Hilton Imprint in India
  Amazon`s Kindle e-book reader launched in India
  A1 Books to raise $5m from Indian Venture Capital firms
  In the offing - an online bookstore by Google
  A Giant E-bookstore from Barnes and Noble
  Indian publishing witnesses a climbing sales graph
  Continued growth of Navneet Publications
  Gita Press makes increased profits during recession
  Blaft: The Nascent Indian publishing house
  HBP customising content for Indian market
  Free manga online boost print sales
  The Surprise Bestseller
  National Book Trust opens a Book Shop
  WordSmith Publications Launched
  Bahrisons open a new outlet in West Delhi
  JK Paper to expand production capacity
  Publisher turns author!
  Advent of the SMS Novel
  Parragon books and groceries in the same shop!
  Use of Prophet's picture lands author and publisher in jail
  A new device for the visually challenged
 
 
 
Dear Publishing Professionals,  


With this issue, we complete three years. Time flies and it carries us along on its swift wings. However, Publishing Today has helped me more than anybody else. I have gathered an insider's view of the Indian publishing industry and this helps me learn and innovate continuously. I have had a wonderful experience of "One to One" interviews with legends in publishing, emerging leaders in the field and relative newcomers. I must say that whomsoever I approached answered my queries with remarkable frankness. I am really grateful to all my interviewees for their cooperation and for accommodating me at a short notice.

In the publishing world October is known for the Frankfurt Book Fair. This time our festival of lights, Diwali was sandwiched in between. Many publisher friends returned to India leaving the Fair midway. Many asked inquisitively, "Aren't you going back?" I told them that, "In India we pray to Goddess Laxmi for wealth on Diwali and here is the chance for a brush with her. So why should I go back?" I will keep my commitment with my work and then return.

This time Frankfurt Book Fair was quiet and effective as there were many serious trade visitors. It was quieter due to the recession in Europe, UK and US. The German Book Office (GBO) again did a good job by collaborating with various Indian publishing bodies and bringing visitors to the Indian pavilion. The "Meet India" program was a great success as visitors had to register themselves in advance. GBO brought out the proceedings of Global-Local Publisher's Round Table held in early 2009 in the form of a beautifully produced book, New Directions in Publishing: Discussions and Thoughts, which was released during the Fair.

This time, the National Book Trust was a no show. The stall was covered with a white cloth and on probing we found out that their officials could not get their visa on time. They have been participating in international book fairs for a number of years now and should know how to plan.

This month I interviewed Madan Gopal Arora of Universal Book Traders who started from scratch and built a pioneering law publishing house in the country. Lawyers and judges considered him a supplier of knowledge as he was a bookseller always ready to help. The Bar Association of India honoured a non-law person for the first time in their history which earned him a place in the Limca Book of Records.

 
 
 
 

with Mr M G Arora, Chairman Universal Law Publishing Company Pvt. Ltd. and Universal Book Traders
I believe a Bookshop is a Temple; Customer, a presiding deity and I the priest to serve and worship, in conversation with S. K. Ghai

Q. You are a self-made man and a successful law bookseller how did you start and what was your journey like?
A.
I was born on 8th March 1933 in an agriculturist family in a remote village that is now in Pakistan. I was studying in 8th class when the partition of India took place. Our whole family moved to a refugee camp in Pakistan where all the occupants used to get meal mixed with sand which resulted in the family getting sick. My grandfather died in the camp followed by my father and my sister who also passed away after migration to India within a span of six months. My ailing mother and I moved to Ambala Cantonment where I joined a high school. After matriculation I applied for admission in a college for further studies but in view of my activities associated with the ideology of RSS, I was denied admission in college. I stayed with my elder brother who had also migrated from Pakistan and was engaged in medical practice. In order to avoid financial burden on my elder brother I joined as a part-time trainee working on a lathe machine in a factory engaged in manufacturing scientific instruments and in my spare time I started teaching some primary students to make a living. At the age of 15, I was arrested in Ambala Cantonment for being a member of RSS which was banned by the Government of India but was released because I was underage. To avoid further complications I moved to Allahabad in 1951 and joined as a salesman with Central Law Agency. I toured various states of India and realized the value of books as people showed extraordinary respect to me as a messenger of knowledge.

Q. What motivated you to start your own business?
A.
Being an RSS member I used to attend Shakhas (daily classes) regularly and also participated in various activities and movements started by them so I couldn't devote myself completely to my job with Central Law Agency. A few times my employers adjusted with me but they could not do so for long. So in 1956 I left the job and moved to Delhi and started my own business from my house with only Rs 100 as savings in my pocket. I rented a bicycle and began visiting lawyers and law courts selling them books which I took from publishers on short term credit. Later, in the year 1960 I started a bookshop opposite new Tis Hazari Courts in Gokhale Market. So life started and today 58 years have passed and I have never looked back. I believe Success is not a destination but a journey, and I am enjoying the journey everyday.

Q. Share your experience as a salesman and as a bookseller?
A.
During my job in Allahabad, while on a tour in Orissa in 1953, I was travelling on a train from Puri to the then newly developed Ganjam district to obtain orders for the law library. It was a day journey and the ticket collector came to check the tickets. Mostly passenger did not have tickets and were paying the fare to the ticket collector who was keeping the money in his pocket. I was perhaps the only one in the compartment with a ticket. He stared at me as if I had done something wrong.

This left an impression on me and I couldn't sleep. During the night with a candle, I wrote a postcard narrating this incident to the then Railway Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri. After a few weeks I returned from the tour and found a letter in response to my postcard from the minister's office asking me to see him when he next visits Allahabad. I immediately wrote back saying that I am a travelling salesman, and so I will not be able to know the date of the minister's visit. One fine morning a police officer came to my house and asked me to accompany him to the minister. I went with him to Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri who smiled and asked me to sit by his side. He introduced me to all the senior railway officers and others present in the conference room. Then he took out my first postcard and read out the prevailing state of affairs in the railway department. I was really impressed by Shastri Ji's simplicity, sincerity and quick action. What a difference now?

As a bookseller, I came in close contact with a number of judges, scholars, jurists, law officers and advocates of high academic distinction. Sometimes I have gone out of my way to help the customers by procuring rare and out of print titles for them. Due to this I earned a well deserved reputation. Once Shri K.R. Naraynan then President of India asked me for a book which was out of print. I procured that book from a UK publisher, who sent the same complimentary. I personally rushed to Rashtrapati Bhawan to deliver that book. He asked me how much to pay and I said nothing sir as it has come complimentary. This and many other such instances have really paid me in the long run. I can not live without going to my bookshop daily. I enjoy doing this as I believe a Bookshop is a Temple; Customer, a presiding deity and I the priest to serve and worship. I would love to be known as a modest, humble and straightforward bookseller.

Q. From a successful law bookseller what prompted you to start publishing?
A.
My relationship with my customers and lawyers are friendly. One day my friend Shri H.L. Kumar, a lawyer came to me and said "Why don't you publish Delhi Shops and Establishment Act which I have authored?" I couldn't say no. So with this I started publishing and it became our first book.

In 1995, I promoted a Company "Universal Law Publishing Co. (P) Ltd." for publishing books by eminent authors, judges, advocates of high academic distinction and law teachers. We have also reprinted over 200 best selling titles on law under licence from more than two dozen internationally known publishers of UK, USA, Australia, Malaysia and Netherland with the objective of making these books available at affordable prices for the benefit of students and professionals. I am proud to say that Universal has built-up a well-deserved reputation in the legal world that continues to be reflected in our ever increasing range of publications and a large numbers of Bare Acts, Rules and Statutes.

Q. I learnt that you were arrested during the Emergency? What was your experience in Tihar Jail?
A.
I was arrested many times, first in Ambala Cantonment in 1949 when the RSS was banned and then in Lucknow in 1954 on my taking part in the Go Raksha Andolan. In the years 1974-75, I was actively associated with "Sampoorna Kranti Movement" headed by Loknayak Jai Prakash Narain when Emergency was imposed. So in 1975 I was arrested and sent to Tihar Jail, where I came in close contact with many political leaders, students and political workers who were also arrested at the time. I saw and observed them closely and realized that a majority of people in politics, are in it for monetary gains rather than to serve society. I also learnt that there is no room for me in politics. I used to spend a lot of time in the jail library. Though I was released on bail I could not attend to my business and family throughout the Emergency period of 18 months as I was hounded by the local police. During this time my school going children looked after the business.

Q. You were the President of DSBPA in 1990-93. Any experiences you would like to share?
A.
I have been active in DSBPA and FPBA for a long time and held many positions in these Associations. I was made the Chairman of Joint Action Committee (JAC) of both the associations to discipline the book trade and make them adhere to the Good Offices Committee (GOC) decisions. The committee was very active and strict to take disciplinary actions against member for violation of rules. Even some senior members of the executive were not spared. Overall the members cooperated with us and we were able to bring discipline in the book trade.

Q. I learnt that you have earned a place in Limca Book of Records. How were you selected for the same?
A.
On completing 50 years in the book trade and service to the legal profession, the Bar Association of India for the first time decided to honour a non-legal person for providing service to the legal profession. They considered me as a supplier of knowledge to the legal profession. I was honoured and a souvenir was released during the function. This was the reason I was included in the Limca Book of Records, 2004 edition. I also received awards: Distinguished Booksellers Award (1997 from FPBA); Excellence in Law Publishing Award (1998 from FIP); Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade (1999 from FPBA); Lifetime Achievement Award presented to me by FPBAI in their 54th AGM 2008. Federation of Indian Publisher organised a special function in 2007. At that occasion a plaque of honour was given to me by Hon'ble Chief Minister of Delhi Smt. Sheila Dikshit.

Q. How would you describe a good book?
A.
A good book is the one which should appeal to the reader and whose contents serve the purpose.

Q. How have you distributed the work between yourself and your family?
A.
Not only sons, my daughter-in-laws and my grandson are also contributing to this family business. I have three sons and all have training in retail trade as I consider it a must for success in publishing. This helps in knowing your customers' mind. Pradeep, the eldest, is a law graduate and looks after publishing and editing of books and reprinting of foreign books in India and his wife Neena also take interest. Sanjeev, a graduate from Delhi University looks after the marketing and wholesale distribution of our publications and his wife Vibha is an advocate in the High Court and also a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association. Manish, did a doctorate from Harvard Law School, USA. He is an Advocate practising in Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India and looks after the acquisition of new authors and liaises with the legal fraternity. He also runs a law institute to train law entrance students and lawyers for judicial service exams and his wife Purnima looks after the management of the institute. My grandson Anubhav, a graduate, and an MBA from Lincon University (UK) looks after the retail business. Though I have no responsibility I cannot live without coming to the shop come what may. I believe that as long as you work you are young, otherwise you are growing old.

Q. You have been dealing with multinationals. Please share your experience in dealing with them.
A.
"Universal" being wholesale distributors have very cordial relations with the foreign publishers and their associates in India. We regularly import various law related books and journals from UK and USA and also stock their books published in India, but I feel concerned about their way of functioning and the impact of 100% FDI in book publishing in India. The study conducted by some booksellers and publishers associations in India show that more and more Indian publishing companies are being taken over by foreign firms. Some leading law publishing companies have lost their independent status during the recent past. The price fixation formula of foreign companies functioning in India is much higher than the Indian publishers, resulting in high price.

Q. You believe a good book is an excellent friend. What do you prefer to read?
A.
I prefer to read autobiographies, biographies of legal professionals, eminent freedom fighters, revolutionaries and people awarded and honoured for their extraordinary achievements. I love reading and have my personal library in my office and even in my car.

Q. How do you manage to look so relaxed?
A.
I am a satisfied and content person and my motto now is not to work for financial gain alone, I work so that I can continue to work.

Q. Do you have any hobby?
A.
I sing patriotic songs, and love to watch patriotic and historical movies and watch TV serials on Aastha and Sanskar. I also enjoy attending functions related to the legal profession, legal education and book trade.

 
 
 
 
 
 


DSBPA: New Office bearers for 2009-2010

The following office bearers were unanimously elected for the year 2009-10 in the Annual General Meeting held on 26th September. Mr. K.K. Saxena (M/s Aakar Books), President; Mr. Anil Mittal (M/s Daya Publishing House), Vice President; Mr. Ranbir S. Kushvah (M/s Infotech Standards India Pvt. Ltd.), Secretary; Mr.Vivek Sehgal (M/s Publication Bureau), Jt. Secretary; Mr. Surjeet S. Khurana (M/s Bookwell), Treasurer.


Gujarat High Court lifts ban on Jaswant Singh's book on Jinnah

Jaswant Singh's book Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence had been banned by the Narendra Modi government in August this year. The honourable Gujarat High Court lifted the ban stating that the state had not made it clear how the book would harm the interest of the state or trigger off disharmony and enmity among communities and disturb public harmony. The court said that the ban was an intrusion of the fundamental rights of citizens.


Penguin launches Hamish Hilton Imprint in India

Hamish Hamilton Imprint publishes its first novel The Wishmaker by Ali Sethi. The author is the son of Mr Najam Sethi, the distinguished publisher, bookseller and journalist from Pakistan. We wish the author and the publisher success.


Amazon's Kindle e-book reader launched in India

The Kindle 2 is available in India at a price of $259 (Rs 12,000 approx). It has a 6 inch e-ink display, a full Qwerty keyboard and weighs 289 grams. It delivers any book from their catalogue of about 2,80,000 titles in less than 60 seconds. One can store about 1,500 books at a time in its 2 GB memory. It can be connected to a PC or work independently of one. No data charges will be applicable to users when downloading content from the Amazon store. The only hitch is even though the device comes with a one year guarantee they do not have any service centres in the country as yet.


A1 Books to raise $5m from Indian Venture Capital firms

A1 Books, an international online bookseller, plans to expand its business in India and has already tied up with 500 Indian publishers to sell their books online. The company is now planning to sell used books as well. At present about 2,50,000 books in various Indian languages are available at the website, www.A1Books.co.in. They are also in talks with Yatra.com Reliance to be the book partner in their, to be launched, e-commerce portal.


In the offing - an online bookstore by Google

Google will launch an online bookstore selling ebooks in the first half of next year. The store will initially offer 4-6 lakh books in partnership with publishers with whom it already collaborates. The books could then be bought directly from Google or from other online stores like Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com The books will be accessible from any device with a web browser and the device need not be kept connected to read a book, after it has been accessed once.


A Giant E-bookstore from Barnes and Noble

Four months ago Barnes and Noble acquired an e-book retailer Fictionwise. Now it is about to launch an ebookstore BN.com. The store will have over 7,00,000 books on offer. More than 5,00,000 books now offered on the website can be downloaded for free. The company also announced an upgraded version of its e-reader software that users would be able to download for free that will allow the books to be read on a variety of devices.


Indian publishing witnesses a climbing sales graph

While publishers the world over are reeling under the recession, Indian publishers find books flying off the shelf in large numbers. Even costly hardback editions like Nandan Nilekani's Imagining India and Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies, have sold more than 40,000 copies each. Ravi Singh, Chief Editor, Penguin India says, "A few years ago, 10,000 was the really big figure. Now to be a blockbuster, a book would have to sell more than 25,000." Sales have also climbed in the recent years and have stayed high despite the slowdown because the Indian middle class can afford to spend more on books and also because the publishers have kept a tight rein on the prices keeping in view the increasing competition in the field.


Continued growth of Navneet Publications

Navneet Publications operates in the educational sector which is non cyclical. In financial year 2009, their net sales went up by 25 per cent. They have maintained growth across businesses and control about 60 per cent of the publication business in western India. Rather than going into core textbooks where they would face stiff competition, they have focused mainly on supplementary books.

The revenue from the stationery segment grew at 69 per cent on a year on year basis, contributing 45 per cent of the revenue share in financial year 09. Navneet Publications also diversified into e-learning by providing elearning modules that can be used in classrooms as well as by students individually.


Gita Press makes increased profits during recession

Established in 1923, Gita Press is one of the world's largest publishers of Hindu religious texts. It also publishes books in Sanskrit and other Indian languages. Their sales grew from Rs 29.5 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 32 crore in 2008-09. Till date they have published more than 45.45 crore copies of various books, including 8.10 crore copies of the Bhagvad Gita and 7.5 crore copies of the Ram Charit Manas.


Blaft: The Nascent Indian publishing house

The owners of Blaft - Rakesh Khanna, Rashmi Ruth Devadasan and Kaveri Lalchand- were invited on an all expenses paid trip to Frankfurt. They were also provided a free stall and time slot to speak about their books. Their first book The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction, sold 7500 copies, making it a bestseller by the standards of Indian English Books.


HBP customising content for Indian market

Harvard Business Publishing has recently opened a wholly-owned subsidiary in India. It will work with institutions and companies across sectors to make their content more relevant for the Indian market. Their immediate plans include publishing Indian editions of Harvard Business books and focussing on partnering with leading business schools and companies to deliver leadership and management development content and programmes. They have ended their distribution agreement with McGraw Hill and will now distribute books directly in the country.


Free manga online boost print sales

While the sales of comic magazines continue to dwindle, Japanese publishers are trying to rev up interest by putting free manga online. Japan's Kodansha Ltd went a step further by releasing the print and online content on the same day. This led to the sales of that issue rising by 25 per cent. Goichi Nonaka, editor-in-chief of Futabasha's comics planning and editorial department said, "Web comics enable publishers to build up the popularity of some works to the point at which it becomes feasible to release them in book format, while saving the costs in the meantime."


The Surprise Bestseller

Last year, Stay hungry, Stay Foolish a self-published book by Rashmi Bansal became a bestseller with 1,00,000 copies sold in eight months. The book focuses on the success stories of IIM graduates who left the beaten track to follow their hearts.


National Book Trust opens a Book Shop

National Book Trust opened a book shop at 4/5-B, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi. It was inaugurated on 30 September 2009.


WordSmith Publications Launched

Pune-based Vikram Printers have entered the publishing scene under the name WordSmith Publications. Their first series meant for 3-7 year olds is a set of illustrated books titled "My Books".


Bahrisons open a new outlet in West Delhi

Bahrisons of the Khan Market fame opened a new store in Rajouri Garden in West Delhi. They had initially thought that readers there would like books on Sikhism, Hindi and Urdu literature. However a few months down the line they have realized that chiclits are flying off the shelf and almost 70 per cent of their clientele are women. The trend has set the Bahris thinking of starting a ladies reading club at the outlet.


JK Paper to expand production capacity

JK Paper will make an investment of Rs 1,200-1,400 crore to expand production capacity by over 60 per cent to 3.9 lakh tones per annum by 2012. They doubled their net profit for the quarter ended june 2009 to Rs 20.16 crore.


Publisher turns author!

Publisher Pramod Kapur has co-authored the book New Delhi: Making of a Capital with Malvika Singh and Rudrangshu Mukherjee. The book is largely an essay in pictures, and that is where Pramod Kapur played his part. Ironically he had to source most of the pictures from England's RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).


Advent of the SMS Novel

In an increasingly busy world where speed and connectivity is the key, arrives Deaf Heaven, India's first literary cell novel and audio mobile book. The author Pinki Virani, has already won a National Award for her book Bitter Chocolate. The book will be available to readers through 90 SMSes (3 per day), for a month, at a price of Rs 30.


Parragon books and groceries in the same shop!

Parragon Publishing Pvt Ltd celebrated its third anniversary with a drawing and painting and storytelling competition followed by a bash at The Dome, Vasant Kunj, Delhi.

They are employing a first-of-its-kind initiative in India by selling books in retail chains and some experts believe that this might do away with the separate bookstore concept. In this way they hope to bring books into the purview of commodities in the impulse purchase category, as shoppers indulge in this kind of purchasing at malls and retail chains.


Use of Prophet's picture lands author and publisher in jail

The use of Prophet Muhammad's picture in the book Udayaman Bharatiya Samaj Mein Shiksak has created a furore in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The author, retired lecturer Dr Karna Singh Kushwaha, and Govindpur Publishers who published the book, have both been booked. The picture of the Prophet will have to be removed before the book is brought back into circulation. The author however insists that he did not intend to hurt the feelings of any religious community and claims that he downloaded the picture from a website.


A new device for the visually challenged

The Audio Book Reader was launched by the NGO Saksham to help visually challenged students to pursue their studies with greater ease. The device reads audio files as opposed to other machines that read text files. ABR can store up to 60 hours of audio and comes with an extendable 2 GB memory card and a lithium ion rechargeable battery that can provide backup for 8 hours. Audio files of any language can be uploaded onto the device and it is also available with audio distribution facility. It comes as a boon for the 56 lakh visually impaired people who are literate. This device will serve in the absence of Braille books for complete course material. At present students need to make do with obsolete and cumbersome audio cassettes and CDs that can get scratched or get corrupted. The devices have been priced at Rs 4,000 for individual use and Rs 5,000 for a classroom set-up.

 
 
 
 

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