Sterling Publishers
Vol. 3 No. 10 & 11 September & October 2009
ONE TO ONE with Baba Bhand
National Youth Readership Survey
Training in Publishing
BSc Degree in Digital Publishing in India
Management Change for Cape Town Book Fair
M.L. Ahuja receives Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Ekta Samman
Jain Book Agency opens a new showroom
Publishing Statistics
"22nd Condensed
Course for Publishing

for details visit
Dear Balram Shukla,

August-September have been hectic months for the publishing industry. The book, Jinnah:India-Partition- Independence by Jaswant Singh was released on 17th August and got the headlines and a lot of controversy due to certain paragraphs in the book. People began commenting on the book without reading it and then it was banned by the Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Narendra Modi without mentioning why. Though it has helped in the sale of the book yet it is curbing the freedom to write (expression) in our democratic country. I am sure it will not stand in the court of law. In spite of the fact that the book was banned it was available under the table from the major bookshops in the state. I do not know what this ban has achieved but the fact is that the sale of the book has crossed over 60,000 mark in less than a month. Any book which becomes controversial sells.

I wrote in my last editorial regarding India being the guest of honour at the Moscow International Book Fair 2009. It has come and gone without making any impact on the Russian Publishing Industry or the Indian Publishing Industry. There were seven Indian publishers apart from National Book Trust (NBT)- Sterling, Jaypee, New Central Book Agency, NCBA Exports, UBS, Sahitya Academy and National School of Drama displaying their books. The Indian pavilion was sandwiched between Russian Publishers in hall A and International participants in Hall C. We were in the corridor connecting the two halls. The National Book Trust and Sahitya Academy took about thirty authors and practically there was no Russian audience to listen to them as stated by Shri Ashok Vajpayee in one of his editorials on coming back to India. This all happened because of the language barrier and the non-communication from the National Book Trust,the chief organiser of the event. I don't know when India will get this opportunity again. So an opportunity came and was lost.

National Book Trust has played an important role in establishing book fairs in the various parts of the country. Starting with the National Book Fair in Mumbai in 1968 and the New Delhi World Book Fair in 1972, it has helped many associations to establish their own book fairs by giving them financial and moral support from time to time. Now every major city has its own book fair. Recently from the 11th-20th September, a national book fair was held in Lucknow by the Federation of Publishers and Booksellers Associations in India and now the National Book Trust has also announced their National Book Fair from 7th-15th November 2009. Isn't the gap too less for holding two fairs and then the two main organizations competing with themselves? I hope NBT will withdraw their book fair as they are not in competition but are a support to the publishing industry.

Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India organized the first meeting of the National Book Promotion Council on 25th September. The Education Minister Hon. Kapil Sibal presided over the meeting and it was decided that a committee will be formed of publishers, authors and government officials of the ministry of education, to draft a national book policy which will look after the promotion and problems of the book industry. I can only hope that the national book policy is drafted and implemented in the near future.

This month the One to One section features Baba Bhand, an author and publisher from Maharashtra who became a publisher by compulsion to publish his own books and in the process published a lot of good literature, new books, and translated many well known authors in Marathi. The interview was taken by Shyam Deshpande, Editorial Consultant of Rajhans Prakashan, Aurangabad.

Publishing is a social responsibility. It's not only business. It's also a cultural responsibility. It's essential to have some basic qualifications to be a part of it says Baba Bhand in conversation with Shyam Deshpande*

A gifted creative writer and an innovative publisher Mr. Baba Bhand established a publishing house in 1975 in Aurangabad, in central Maharashtra. It is called Saket Prakashan Pvt Ltd., a leading Marathi publishing house. It was a hard task to build a publishing house 35 years ago. Today Saket has a wide range of subjects and 1400 titles.

Mr. Baba Bhand has authored eight novels, a collection of short stories four travelogues, two health related works, two translations, fifteen novellas for young readers, 18 collections of short stories and 27 books for neo-literates. He has also compiled and edited three anthologies. His works have been translated into Hindi, English, Kannad, Telugu, and Gujarati.

*Interviewer Shyam Deshpande works with Rajhans Publications. He is an active member in the field of readers, book clubs and publishers. He has complied an anthology of Marathi Prakashan, Adhiveshan Adhyakshiya Bhashne. Bhand has been honoured with a number of awards out of which 10 have been bestowed upon him by the State Government of Maharashtra, a national award for literature for young readers, and 12 more from various institutions. Besides this, Bhand has played an extensive role in ensuring and bettering water supply to the village of his birth. He has also founded a school for the disabled and speech and hearing impaired children.

Q. What made you switch over from teaching to publishing?
I had decided right in the beginning that I would have a career in writing and publishing. I have been writing since I was a kid. I wrote a diary when I was in the fifth grade. It was published in 2001 the way I had written it. It was called Vahitale Balpan (Childhood in a Notebook). I also wrote short stories and plays while in school and also the biography of Bedan Powell. When I was in the eighth grade, I won a medal at the hands of Dr S. Radhakrishnan. I got an opportunity to be a part of the international scoutguide jamboree in Canada when I had just passed my tenth grade. A boy from an obscure village travelled to 10 countries! I penned the experiences that I had on this trip. The draft was ready by 1970-71 but I couldn't find a publisher for it. Some even asked for money. It was then that I thought of starting my own publishing venture. My wife was also an academician and because she was very supportive, I could leave my job at 29 and start Dhara Prakashan and later Saket Prakashan from Aurangabad.

In those days, most of the Marathi publishing was carried on either out of Pune or Mumbai. At such a time I started off this enterprise in Aurangabad which was then not the most ideal place in terms of being conveniently located. I did it out of a sense of responsibility and with all faith. I didn't have much to invest in the business. My family hailed from a small village. I had neither the financial support nor the requisite educational background when it came to my family. We ran the house on my wife's salary and invested whatever I earned into publishing. My wife did that for a while after which she too left her job when the business expanded. Later, she started taking care of the administration and accounts of the publishing house. I was on the move, busy with the marketing of the books as also travelling and writing. I returned home only on weekends. I was trying to balance my writing as well as publishing. The reason behind my wish to involve myself full time in publishing was my love for books since I was a kid.

I was introduced to good reading while in school. After my schooling I lived in Aurangabad for further studies and that's where the Govt. regional library opened a treasure-trove of books to me. It was then that I made up my mind to work with books.

Q. You're a well-known writer yourself. Many of your own books have been published and you have handled many genres of writing. Your books have also won many awards from the State Government of Maharashtra and the Government of India as also other literary bodies. Did you become a publisher because you are a writer at heart?
I passed out of school with very good marks. Forty years ago, kids who scored that well opted either for medicine or engineering. I decided to pursue my BA in Arts. One of the professors then suggested that I choose the science stream. I told him politely, "I want to be a writer and start my own publishing house." Writing was my breath and when I got the opportunity, I started working towards being a publisher.

Q. What are the kinds of books that you publish?
I started publishing 34 years ago. For a couple of years I focused on novels, short stories, plays, and travelogues as also literary criticism. I was always on the lookout for new subjects and promising writers. I'm happy to say that 60 per cent of the books that I published in the first 10 years were by new writers. There are a lot of well known writers today whose first books were published by me.

In the second and third decade of its existence, Saket Prakashan started publishing a wide spectrum of books. Along with purely literary works, we also started looking at books pertaining to agriculture, ecology, science, sports, travel, health, diet, beauty, yoga, personality development, education, hobby, biographies, works of J Krishnamurthi and Osho and also children's literature which is very rich. My publishing house had brought out 1,400 books so far.

Q. Can you talk of a project which has been truly special for you?
Our country had been ranked high in terms of population and illiteracy. It was a huge task for the Government to ensure basic reading and writing skills in people. It was the responsibility of the Government to bring out books that were written specifically keeping in mind the neo-literate populace. Unfortunately, the way it was done by the Government was marked by its predictability and mundane nature. At this time, individual publishers could have roped in experts and brought out literature specifically for the neo-literate. Hardly anyone did that but Saket Prakashan brought forth suitable literature which was much superior in its thought, content and treatment than the Government projects. In those days there used to be Government competitions for the writings published in this niche. One hundred and five books won awards out of which 75 were brought out by Saket Prakashan. We started Shabdasangat, the first bulletin for the neo-literate for the National Literacy Mission. It went on for 10 years. I'm happy that we were involved in such an important project on a national scale.

Q. What has been your experience of writers? Can you share an anecdote with us?
A writer is the spine of a publishing house. It is the writers that make a publisher proud. No publishing house can run on its own. There are a lot of forces at work which support and encourage its growth and success. The three rules of this industry are to protect the writer's freedom, ensure his rights and to compensate him justly. I've been a fortunate man. Because I was a writer before turning into a publisher, I knew what the writers had to go through. I wouldn't want anyone else to go through something similar. At times, we might miss out on something but the best thing in such a case is to rectify the mistake. The last 34 years have given me some wonderful memories. They gave me the strength to carry on. As for those memories that were less-than-wonderful, I have wiped them off.

Q. Globalization has seen a lot of publishers in English entering Marathi publishing. Do you look at it as a challenge or competition?
Today, one has to face challenges brought by globalization in every industry. The English publishers entering Marathi publishing is a fallout of this and we must welcome it as a natural process. Instead of looking at it as competition, Marathi publishers should look at it as an opportunity to exhibit their own high standards and ingenuity. It's a healthy competition. Each one has to survive using the best of his abilities. You have to look at the situation positively and optimistically.

Q. What is the nature of Marathi publishing and how would you like it to be?
Very often, Marathi publishing is a one-man show. There are very few publishing houses where the third generation is carrying it forward. Publishing houses have different departments for editing, production and marketing. Barring a few honourable names, very few publishers take it seriously. Publishing is a social responsibility. It's not only business. It's also a cultural responsibility. It's essential to have some basic qualifications to be a part of it. Doctors and engineers need to be qualified to do their job, but just about anyone can become a publisher. It's an unfortunate reality of today. Some people with zero knowledge or understanding of literature, writing and distribution have entered this trade and this hasn't been too good for it.

Q. Your children are in this business too. How do they help you?
My daughter Dhara worked with me till she got married. She herself is a good writer and it really helped us. My son is a creative photographer and is qualified in marketing. After I crossed 50, more than eight years ago, I left the responsibility of the publishing house to him. My daughter-in-law is an MBA and she too is active in exploring newer horizons according to the changing tastes of the readers.

I'm happy at the way things have shaped up in the past eight to nine years thanks to my son and his wife, Pratima. They have moved with the times and are happy with the response that they have got from the readers. It encourages them. This year we have an ambitious project. We are going to bring out the translations of works of seven Nobel Prize winning writers. We have also started on some more Marathi translations of the works of the big names in world literature.

Q. In conclusion, would you describe yourself as being a happy man?
I worked on a couple of small businesses before I started publishing. I also made good money in some of them but my heart was not in it. I came home to publishing. At times, there were other opportunities/ temptations, which would have been more satisfying monetarily but I turned my back on them because they wouldn't have made me happy. I had always decided that I wouldn't do something that did not give me satisfaction and joy. I stayed put as a publisher. Now the only things that I focus on in life are my writing, reading and being there for my son.

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On Publishing

What a glorious occupation, this mixture of business Saves and strategic friendship with the spirit.

Thomas Mann

The scope of a career in this field is great though this is not the most lucrative career.

Usha Albuquerque
A career counselor
Tribune, New Delhi 27.05. 09.

There is a lot of potential in book publishing as a career option. And that's why these days the courses are very much in demand. In fact this is the best time to get into this field as the government is putting a lot of resources in the education ministry and is promoting skilled education.

Piyush Kumar, Director, Prabhat Prakashan
Tribune, New Delhi, 27.05.09

The usual practice is to price a book by its size and the number of pages it has. "I have found that it's best to price a book below Rs. 500, and that once you price a book a bit more, it generally moves slowly."

Chiki Sarkar, Editor and Publisher, Random House
The Economic Times, New Delhi, 31.07.09

Publishing is traditionally robust through periods of recession. Reading is seen by many as great value.

Mike Bryan,
CEO and President, Penguin Books

On Non-fiction Writing on India

"The opportunities for non-fiction writing on India have really opened up."

Himanshu Chakravarti, CEO, Landmark

"It is a gold mine for publishers."

Udayan Mitra,Publishing Director, Allen Lane (Penguin)
The Economic Times 17.07.09

On Vanity Publishing

The publisher who goes in for vanity publishing has nothing to lose: there is money to be made, usually payable in advance with no risks involved. If it works, well and good; if it doesn't, the stock is returned and no questions are asked.

Ravi Vyas
The Telegraph, 24.07.09

Bookseller on Bookselling

"We do enjoy selling them and we enjoy buying them." We don't get time to read.

Ankur Nanda
Kuldeep Booksellers Delhi
Hindustan Times,29.07.09

Our sales have picked up by 10-15% and we hope it will grow further by another 15% by the year end.

K. Dasaratharaman, President Speciality Retail at RPG Retail
The Economic Times 28.07.09

"We experiment, we take risk and that's what makes us stand out."
. . . Building a brand is an art and that too, on an existing one is a challenge.

Ravi D.C. CEO, D C Books
Business India 12.07.09

The last six months have been rather difficult with credit cycles being deferred and book shops going slow on orders. "About 65% of our costs are on paper for which there is no subsidy from the government. In India, if pricing remains a key issue, margins too are under pressure."

Akash Shah, Publisher, Jaico Publishing
The Economic Times28.07.09

Margins range from about 25-40% from the publisher to the distributor (this varies depending on the size of the publisher) and settles at around 20-35% from the distributor to the retailer.

Jimmy Shroff, Book Zone and Sterling Book House
The Economic Times28.07.09

"There is no way of curbing piracy by trying to outprice them. We have the costs of editorial, marketing, royalties and world class quality of physical product whereas the pirates have none of these."

PM Sukumar, CEO, Harper Collins, India
The Economic Times 28.07.09

In today's globalized world, we should be able to publish anything and everything in our chosen field of interest regardless of where we are physically as long as we can provide quality and assure our authors the courtesy of a worldwide distribution.

Navin Kishore,
MINT, New Delhi, 15.08.2009

On Niche Market

The assumption is that a niche market doesn't exist: it does because India is a vast market with a growing number of serious common readers in practically every field.. The market for niche books is too scattered and in many cases difficult to service because of the lack of retail outlets.. The niche book is always given to the retail trade on an approval basis, which means that if it is not sold within six to eight weeks, it could be returned. Sadly, this practice is open to abuse: publishers regularly complain that bookshops are returning books and then re-ordering them in order to extend their credit periods, a practice that is becoming more common now that finance is not easily available from banks. "Gone today, back tomorrow" is the joke in the trade.

Ravi Vyas,
The Telegraph, 11.07.2009

On Graphic Novel

A graphic novel is supplemented with visuals through graphics to make for more interesting and easy read. A graphic novel is "a type of comic book, usually with lengthy and complex storyline similar to those of novels." Bound in longer and more durable formats, they are different from traditional, comic magazines, though using same materials and methods.

Deccan Herald,
Bangalore 20.07.2009

National Youth Readership Survey
National Action Plan for the Readership Development among the Youth (NAPRDY) mooted by National Book Trust (NBT) has signed with National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) who will do the all-inclusive National Level Readership Survey from the perspective of book reading habits among the rural and urban youth between the age of 10-30 is aimed at ascertaining the Readership Status, Trends, Attitudes, Needs among the youth, the largest segment of India's population covering all states and Union Territories including the North East.

Training in Publishing
German Book Office (GBO), New Delhi under their programme of Jumpstart Workshops will organise a Workshop on Marketing Children's Books: New Strategies for an emerging market in January 2010. For details contact:info@ or visit

BSc Degree in Digital Publishing in India
The first ever degree course in Digital Publishing in India is being introduce jointly by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Periyar Maniammai Univrsity, Thanjavur, Chennai. The extensive syllabus will cover e-publishing in the first year, graphic design and print publishing in the second year and website multimedia and e-learning in the final year.

Management Change for Cape Town Book Fair
Ms. Vanessa Badroodien, Managing Director CTBF has ended her contract with the CTBF from September end in order to pursue new career opportunities. During her tenure the fair drew the most ever visitors to any exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. She said "The time has now come for me to step aside and let someone else build on the success achieved by the book fair." The dates set for next year's CTBF are 30th July to 2nd August 2010 due to FIFA World cup activity.

M.L. Ahuja receives Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Ekta Samman
Mr. M.L. Ahuja, Executive Secretary of Afro-Asian Book Council, was conferred with Rashtriya Ekta Samman on the eve of the 66 th birthday of Rajiv Gandhi. He has been honoured with this as an author of more than 25 published books. He had earlier been awarded the Janseva Sadbhavna Award (2006) and Bharat Gauvav Award (2007).

He is associated with the publishing and distribution of books since 1959. He was with Allied Publishers Ltd for 17 years, with Macmillan India Ltd. for 5 years and UBS Publishers & Distributors Pvt. Ltd. for 19 years. Since 2001, he is with CBS Publishers & Distributors Pvt. Ltd.

Jain Book Agency opens a new showroom
Jain Book Agency has opened a new showrrom at Main D.B. Gupta Road, Near Dev Nagar Jain Mandir (Opposite Prahlad Market), Karol Bagh, New Delhi.

Publishing Statistics

These results are due to the global economic crisis leading to a downturn in the domestic economy, resulting in an increase of paper costs.

The number of children's books published accounted for 23.76% of the total number of books published.

Published works of translation showed an 8.7% point increase compared to the previous year, accounting for 31% of the total number of books published. The average price for each book increased by 2.0% at 12,116 won in 2008 as compared to 11,872 won in 2007.

Aggregated by Korean Publishers Association, Books from Korea vol. 4 Summer 2009

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