Rajkamal Prakashan Group are hindi publishers who have been in existence for many decades. They have an enviable stable of authors whom they published when they were new on the horizon and are today considered as literary giants — Premchand, Nirala, Mahashweta Devi et al. Recently they have diversified their portfolio to digital formats as well. During the pandemic they launched their WhatsApp groups where information was circulated to their subscribers. Apart from which the editorial team led by Satyanand Nirupam would glean seminal essays or identify extracts from their backlist, design little booklets that could then be easily circulated as a pdf via WhatsApp. Last heard, the number of people subscribing to this were in thousands. It is a firm that I admire for their innovation and ability to recognise talent, nurture it and maintain relationships.
Many moons ago, Satyanand Nirupam, Editorial Director, Rajkamal Prakashan very kindly agreed to a Q&A for my blog. He too has garnered immense experience in this business. He was part of the team that helped set up Penguin India’s Hindi imprint and much else. Unfortunately, after I sent the questions, the pandemic happened and circumstances have made it very tough to think clearly and respond. For now I am posting these questions here.
- When and why did you join publishing? It has been many years since you were in Hindi publishing. What are the major transformations you have noticed in the world of Hindi publishing since you began to now?
2. Rajkamal Prakashan is one of the most prominent Hindi publishers. Its lifespan coincides more or less with that of Independent India. As a result your firm has a phenomenal archive. What are the changes you have noticed in the kinds of literature archived from seventy years ago and now? ( Here it may be a good idea to mention the formidable list of Hindi writers associated with your firm.)
3. Recently, Rajkamal Prakashan began an experiment of publishing “very contemporary” narratives such as bloggers, travelogues or even short short pieces like journalist Ravish Kumar’s musings about being in the city. Would you like to comment more upon this new fledging list and its reception with readers?
4. Do you have a translation programme as in do you translate books from other languages into Hindi and vice versa? If so what are the kinds of books that you seek to publish in Hindi? What are the books that have proven to be successful, sometimes unexpectedly?
5. How many titles in a year do you publish? Is this a mixed bag of frontlist and revival of backlist?
6. How does Rajkamal Prakashan distribute its books? Are these available online and offline or do you explore more innovative ways of selling books?
7. How significant are literary festivals in helping promote authors/ books/ ideas or perhaps even rediscovering some?
8. The price points are always a sensitive issue in the Indian book market. How does it fare in Hindi publishing? Can you afford to increase the sales price of your books? How does this impact your publishing programme?
9. What has been your experience with audio books?
10. Rajkamal Prakashan is one of the first regional language publishers to actively venture into acquistions and mergers to create a Rajkamal Prakashan Group/ Samuh. What are the pros and cons of this arrangement?
11. Having worked in multinational publishing firms as well, what do you think are the important similarities and differences between the contracts offered to authors?
12. How vibrant and relevant is the diaspora as a book market for readers of Hindi publishing?
28 Jan 2021