|Vol. 3 No. 12 November 2009
|Dear Publishing Professionals,
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.
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.
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
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
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
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?
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?
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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
DSBPA: New Office bearers for 2009-2010
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
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
Penguin launches Hamish Hilton Imprint in India
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
Amazon's Kindle e-book reader launched in India
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
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
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
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
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
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
Gita Press makes increased profits during recession
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
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
HBP customising content for Indian market
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
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
The Surprise Bestseller
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
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
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
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!
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
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!
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
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
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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