Publishing Posts

Literati – “Opportunities in Publishing” ( 1 March 2015)

 Jaya Bhattacharji RoseMy monthly column, Literati, in the Hindu Literary Review was published in print ( 1 March 2015).  I am c&p the text below. 

Opportunities in Publishing

In 2003 when mobile phones were new, we conducted an experiment at the publishing firm I was part of. We converted a print story into an audio file, dramatized it using voice actors, recording at a studio. A phone company offered to make it available on landlines and mobile phones. The only cost to be incurred was the origination cost. After that, the consumer would pay a nominal fee to hear the story. We knew we had a new income generation stream with a revenue-sharing model. It seemed to be a win-win situation, except for a tiny hiccup – insufficient good content. It had to be easily available, origination cost at an affordable price point, transparency on copyright, with preferably multi-lingual options to cater to target audiences in different regions. Naturally, it remained an experiment in convergence that was ahead of its times.

Ironically in 2015, publishing engagements held to coincide with the World Book Fair, New Delhi were dominated by conversations regarding content, opportunities for publishing where mostly telecommunications company representatives spoke or IT experts expounded on the significance of mobile reading. Impressive statistics were reeled out. For instance, 4.5 b people have access to bathrooms, but 6 billion have access to phones. There are only 7 billion people on earth.

The close relationship between publishers, content and technology is discussed well in an article, “No profit left behind”, published in POLITICO Pro (10 Feb 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/pearson-education-115026.html ). It is argued that Pearson wields enormous influence over American education and “makes money even when its results don’t measure up”. On 20 Feb 2015, an Indian newspaper report said, “Pearson Education is eyeing a larger share of the Indian education market through digital offerings. Chalking out its growth chart for the coming years, the learning and publishing company has identified India among the four biggest markets, the others being China, Brazil and South Africa.” (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/education/pearson-education-eyes-big-share-of-indian-education-market/articleshow/46297541.cms ) All though riddled with challenges such smart classes and modern libraries with Wi-Fi are not unheard of in India where the contracted vendor provides the hardware, software, content and even helps get broadband access to the institution.  Hence it is not surprising to have heard telecom representatives requesting for a Digital India Programme – creation of digital infrastructure, delivering services digitally and advocating digital literacy. In theory a splendid idea since it gets to many. But when rumours about local broadband service providers seeking differential pricing for customers begin to become real, it is a worrying trend. These internet service providers are flouting the basic premise of net neutrality where all data exchanged on the net should be treated equally. With broadband connectivity expected to grow rapidly with 450 million users in 2017 putting India amongst the top two data markets globally and maximum internet growth is expected to happen with 69% of the population who have affordable smartphones, feature phones and low-cost feature phones operating on 2G and 3G spectrums, with another 9.8% of the population being able to afford higher end phones and tablets using wi-fi too, this is a lucrative business to be in.

Other conversations of note were an insistence on targeted marketing by leveraging technology; creating a classification of readers – casual, avid, niche, topical, educational and lapsed; taxation issues;  exploring new business models such as  Direct – to – Consumers (D2C) and opportunities to sync audio to text – bundle of e-book and audiobook with seamless switching; the conversion of passive online consumers to active “prosumers” [Producer-Consumers] driven by convergence; analysing targetted audience interactions like browsing / buying behavior, and impact of augmented reality in book promotions as it simulates to some extent the real world not necessarily recreating it exactly in detail. Significantly there was an interest to explore translations in Indian languages but the more animated conversations took place at the Food Court at Pragati Maidan than at Rights Table conclave. The increasing presence of overcrowded remaindered bookstalls presented a paradox with their low-priced books –a bane for publishers, a boon for readers. Finally the stress on how digital publishing was a great opportunity for the Indian publishing sector and must be explored for content creation, distribution and consumption dominated.

The reality is digital penetration is still at a nascent stage in the sub-continent, definitely in a sector estimated to be valued at $2.2 billion. It will require active participation of all stakeholders to ensure the delivery of quality material, at the right price point (for e-readers, ISP, price of content), plus taking into account multi-lingual, gendered and cultural characteristics of consumers.

1 March 2015

Parvati Sharma, “Close to Home”

Close-to-Home-front-CoverOver time, as she began to frequent queer groups and become embroiled in queer debates, she was forced to admit that such daydreams were bourgeois, the notion of romantic love was inherently heterosexist and the aspiration to family wasn’t just politically regressive but also rather embarrassingly old-fashioned. Besides if gay people aspired to the lives of straight people then, quite logically, gay people would soon be compelled to proscribe themselves.  (p.18)

Parvati Sharma’s second book, Close to Home, co-published by Zubaan and Penguin Books, is about Mrinalini Singh and the three people in her orbit –her husband Siddhartha, her old roommate Jahanara and her upstairs tenant Brajeshwar Jha. Both Mrinalini and Brajeshwar are aspiring authors, their struggle to search for stories and hoping it is published. This is a tale about the classic tussle between old friends/husband over a friend/wife and the expectations of a woman in modern Indian society. Does she conform and run her household in a clockwork manner or does she assert herself for her independent growth and fulfillment? Will it rock the boat? It is a novel that is mostly driven by dialogue, but it is observed well and sharply etched by Parvati Sharma in crisp prose—whether you agree with the arguments encased or not.

Parvati Sharma Close to Home Zubaan with Viking/Penguin, New Delhi, 2014. Hb. pp 208. Rs. 399 

JaipurBookMark ( JBM), 21-22 January 2015, Narain Niwas, Jaipur

The Jaipur BookMark 2015
Where South Asia meets the world

21-22 January 2015, Narain Niwas, Jaipur

(JBM 2015 will run for two days parallel with the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on the 21 and 22 January)

bookmark-logo

Day 1: 21st January 2015

12:30 PM-INAUGURATION

Sanjoy Roy, Namita Gokhale, Oliver Moystad

1:30 PM-2:30 PM- INAUGURAL LUNCH hosted by NORLA

2:30 PM-3:30 PM- SESSION 1

IS PUBLISHING “UNBANKABLE”?

A business like no other, publishing finds it notoriously difficult to raise finance: a session on the business of publishing; discussing the structural issues concerning publishing, bank finance, volume and scalability etc.

 

Speakers: Dr Shubhada Rao, Henry Rosenbloom, Bikash Niyogi, Manas Saikia, Atiya Zaidi and Aditi Maheshwari
Moderator: Naresh Khanna

3.30 PM – 4.00 PM TEA

4:00 PM-5:00 PM-SESSION 2

DIGITAL PLATFORMS: THE UNTAPPED TERRITORIES

From social media to distribution, what should publishing professionals be aware of in their rapidly changing industry? Kindles, Kobos, iPads and audiobooks; what does all this new technology mean for the industry from writers to editors, marketers to consumers?

Speakers: Nicolas Idier, Niyam Bhushan, Rajiv Mehta, Ajit Baral and Vishal Anand
Moderator: Arpita Das
Session Supported by: NewsHunt

5.00PM – 6.00PM – SESSION 3

LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES: TIME TRAVELERS EXTRAORDINAIRE
An IGNCA supported Open Forum, on the convergence of Libraries, Archives and Museums. With more access to information available online than ever before, regardless of location, what new role could and should libraries and archives play in making information accessible to all?

Speakers: Dipali Khanna, Alberto Manguel, Nicholson Baker, Dr. Venu Vasudevan and Shantanu Ganguly
Moderator: Bharti Sinha
Session supported by: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts

6:00 PM-7:00 PM DRINKS

Day 2: 22nd January 2015

10.30AM TEA/COFFEE

10.45 AM – 11.30 AM – SESSION 1

WHO IS THE BOOK?
‘More than 48 printed pages and bound within 2 covers’, is that the book or is there more to it? On the changing format and technology of the book in an increasingly interactive environment.

Ralph Mollers in conversation with Sirish Rao; introduced by Ute Reimer-Boehner

11.30 AM- 12.30 PM – SESSION 2

RETHINKING TRANSLATION: RELOCATING THE CENTRE

How do we translate content across multi-media and digital borders including e-books, audio books, graphic texts and cross-media conversions?

Speakers: Vera Michalski, Satti Khanna, Mahua Mitra, Rick Simonson, Shona Martyn and Manasi Subramaniam
Moderator: Renuka Chatterjee

12.30 PM-1.30 PM SESSION 3

SOUTH-SOUTH COLLABORATIONS: A CONVERSATION WITH AUSTRALIAN PUBLISHERS

Increasingly, publishers in the global south are beginning to work directly with each other; literary festivals and bookfairs in southern countries are now choosing to focus also on southern authors. In a free ranging conversation, Australian publishers and literary entrepreneurs talk about new collaborations and new relationships.

Speakers: Ivor Indyk, Terri-Ann White, David Ryding, Kate McCormack, Wendy Were and Meredith Curnow
Moderator: Urvashi Butalia

1.30 PM-2.30 PM LUNCH

2.30 PM-3.30 PM SESSION 4

CONTENT IS QUEEN

The book is no longer just a book–it is now a basis for film, video games, interactive reading, collective writing and so much more. With book formats morphing and mutating how will content adapt to survive?

Speakers: Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Prasoon Joshi, Sandip Sen and Renu Kaul
Moderator: Karthika V.K.

3.30 PM-4.00 PM TEA

4.00 PM – 5.00PM-SESSION 5

TOWARDS A NATIONAL READING POLICY

A viable reading policy involves encouraging reading, creating an infrastructure to make books available and finally providing books. What role can States and private actors play to overcome the gap between policies and their implementation?

Speakers: Oliver Moystad, M A Sikandar, Prof. Apoorvanand and Prof. Avdhesh Kumar Singh
Moderator: Manisha Chaudhry
Session supported by: National Book Trust

5 PM CLOSING CEREMONY

6 PM-7 PM DRINKS (those who wish to leave for DSC South Asian Literature prize at Diggi Palace may proceed)

Participants are free to network in the Rights Chaupal.

To register, please visit the Jaipur Literature Festival website at: http://jaipurliteraturefestival.org/registration/jaipur-bookmark-registration

and click on the Register button.

Registration would include delegate status for the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival specified to the date.

Rs 3,500/- per day or Rs 6,000/- for two days per person

For further queries, please contact: jaipurbookmark@teamworkarts.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaipurBookMark?fref=ts

Kitaabnama: Books and beyond, Ep#60

Jaya Bhattacharji RoseConceived by writer and literary activist Namita Gokhale, Kitaabnama has a participatory and inclusive format and showcase the multilingual diversity of Indian Literature. Addressing literary issues of contemporary through dialogue and conversation, Kitaabnama shall feature books, readings and encounters with writers from the spheres of Hindi, English and various Indian languages, as well as guest appearances from International names and voices. The programme is telecast by the Indian government television channel, Doordarshan.

In June 2014 Ravi Singh, Publishing, Speaking Tiger and I were interviewed by Jasleen Vohra on the world of publishing and literature. The programme was aired on 15 November 2014 and uploaded on YouTube on 5 December 2014. Here is the link:

The second half of this episode has an interview with Reza Aslan.

7 December 2014

RIP Bindia Thapar

RIP Bindia Thapar

Bindia Thapar 2The first time I met Bindia was when I was curating Poster Women for Zubaan.  It was a visual mapping of the women’s movement in India. ( http://www.posterwomen.org/Posterwomen/?page_id=2) We had collected over 1500 posters from around the country, in different languages and different formats. Some were in a pretty rotten condition too. In order to make it easier to create an archive, every single document was catalogued and professionally photographed in a studio. After the exercise was completed, large postcard size photographs were printed and filed for easy reference. At this point Bindia was invited to spend the day with us at office. She has been involved for many years in making posters for different organisations, various campaigns etc.

Bindia Thapar, literacyWith a twinkle in her eye, Bindia gurgled with delight at spotting how her posters had been adapted, adopted, translated and sometimes only a visual imagery “borrowed” into a new poster. It was a fascinating insight into how the women’s movement gained momentum in India, as people become more aware of issues concerning women, but also the need to develop and create communication tools that would be easily understood across the spectrum — languages, regions, socio-economic classes, literate and illiterate alike. Some of her posters on domestic violence were used as non-text communication material in other regions too. Bindia was one of the first artists to make trilingual posters, in Hindi, Urdu and English. These were part of Jagori’s literacy campaign. Later her posters became more elaborate and sumptuous. A favourite poster of mine is a blue and gold illustration she created for a Jagori poster in the 1990s. Unfortunately I am unable to locate an image of it online.

Bindia 3Bindia was also known for her work in children’s literature. She was a fantastic illustrator. There was always a burst of colours in every frame she drew. When I took four-month-old Sarah to meet Bindia, she told me to always ensure the child is exposed to visual imagery. It is equally important as learning a language or any other skill. Slowly as the child grows she will learn to react, respond, and grow. She was insistent that the immediate environment of the child should be filled with colour, tickle the child’s senses and let them blossom.

20140419_224846Bindia worked upon many children’s books. One of the first books she created was for Tulika Books. It was introducing the Hindi alphabet or the letters of the Devnagari script. Each page is a delight. Every letter or akshar is embedded in a drawing that tells a story. More importantly, the child is able to discover images tucked into the drawing beginning with the relevant letter on the page. I love it. Sarah loves it. She is as yet to learn the Devnagari script but she firmly believes that it is a storybook. Bindia wrote this book when her own daughter was in primary school and discovering alphabets.

Bindia Thapar will be missed. A rare human being. Full of warmth and generosity. Ever willing to share her knowledge, extremely humble and always alive to new experiences.

Rest in peace.

21 April 2014 

 

PRESS RELEASE: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE INDIA ANNOUNCES  PUBLISHING, SALES AND MARKETING APPOINTMENTS &  NEW ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

PRESS RELEASE: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE INDIA ANNOUNCES PUBLISHING, SALES AND MARKETING APPOINTMENTS & NEW ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

Penguin Random House

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE INDIA ANNOUNCES

PUBLISHING, SALES AND MARKETING APPOINTMENTS &

NEW ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

 

New Delhi, 20 March 2014 – Penguin Random House India’s new publishing, sales and marketing leadership appointments and cross-company organizational structure were announced today by Gaurav Shrinagesh, Chief Executive Officer.  All changes will be effective 1st April 2014.  The company is a division of Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, which was established on 1 July 2013 with the merger worldwide of Penguin and Random House.

Chiki Sarkar, currently Publisher at Penguin Books India, has been appointed as Publisher, Penguin Random House India with overall responsibility for building the local publishing programme in both English and local languages.  Random House India’s first editor-in-chief in 2006, she moved to Penguin Books India in 2011 and has been instrumental in publishing many of the sub-continent’s finest writers including Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Suketu Mehta, Vikram Chandra, Amit Chaudhuri and Pankaj Mishra and has launched the careers of some of the best new talent such as Mohammed Hanif, Shehan Karunatilaka, Basharat Peer, Daniyal Mueenuddin and Aman Sethi.  She has recently been announced as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, a community which assembles the world’s most outstanding next-generation leaders. Chiki will report to Penguin Random House India CEO Gaurav Shrinagesh.

Milee Ashwarya and Meru Gokhale have both been appointed to the role of Publishing Director, Penguin Random House India and will report to Chiki Sarkar.

In her new position Meru Gokhale, currently Editorial Director for Vintage, Random House India, will have direct responsibility for the prestigious Vintage India, Allen Lane, Hamish Hamilton, Viking and Classics publishing lists.  Meru has acquired, edited and published books by authors including Paulo Coelho, Kiran Desai, Jamil Ahmad, Sonia Faleiro, Tahmima Anam, Jhumpa Lahiri, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Nadeem Aslam, Rahul Pandita, Basharat Peer and Mohammed Hanif. In 2013 she was awarded the prestigious Jerusalem Editorial Fellowship.

Presently Editorial Director for Ebury India and Random Business, Milee will oversee Ebury India, Random Business, Portfolio, Metro Reads, Shobhaa De Books and Penguin Ananda.  Milee joined Random House India in 2008 and has worked across all genres of publishing during her career. She has commissioned, acquired and published bestselling books including From XL to XS, Jugaad Innovation, Dhandha, the IIMA Business series, the MINT Business series and worked with authors including Payal Gidwani Tiwari, Deanne Panday, Cyrus Broacha, Sudeep Nagarkar, Suhel Seth, Preeti Shenoy and Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma.

Bringing focus to its children’s list, Hemali Sodhi will be taking on the newly created role of Director, Children’s for Penguin Random House India. During her time as Vice President Marketing and Communications, Penguin Books India, Hemali established Penguin as the foremost publishing brand in the country and in her new role she will have responsibility for growing the children’s local publishing program as well as the international list for the Indian market, along with product and brand development for children’s. The current children’s editorial, product and marketing teams will report to her. 

Hemali will retain her responsibility for Penguin’s Annual Lecture, Spring Fever and all CSR activity. In addition, Hemali will manage Corporate Communications for Penguin Books India for the foreseeable future. She will report to Gaurav Shrinagesh in all capacities.

Caroline Newbury, currently VP Marketing and Publicity Random House India, will take on the role of VP, Marketing and Corporate Communications for Penguin Random House India and will oversee all marketing, publicity, digital and corporate communications functions for the company. Caroline joined Random House India two years ago after more than a decade with the Ebury Publishing division, Random House UK.  She will report to Gaurav Shrinagesh.

Gaurav Shrinagesh, CEO, Penguin Random House India, said:

Penguin Random House India is home to some of the finest editorial talent in the country, and this new structure ensures we will continue to be at the forefront of trade publishing in India.  With the combined expertise of Chiki, Meru and Milee, who have each built lists of considerable repute, I am confident that our reputation for discovering the region’s best new writing talent as well as building the careers of our established authors is in very good hands.

“Children’s publishing is a real and major focus for Penguin Random House not only in India, but globally, and I am delighted that Hemali Sodhi will be overseeing this area in her new role.  In her nearly two decades of work with Penguin Books India she has established the Penguin brand into a formidable publishing presence in India, and I know she will transfer these considerable skills into building our local and international children’s publishing list in India.

“In today’s changing retail market the key to driving our authors’ success is discoverability – being able to inform their readers, and potential readers, about their books.  Establishing strong direct to consumer relationships is vital to this and in her new role overseeing marketing and digital, Caroline will be driving this for Penguin Random House India. 

I am delighted to announce all of these appointments and know my colleagues will work tirelessly to provide a first-class environment for our authors to produce their best works and for these to be enjoyed by the widest possible readership.”

On the sales side, Ananth Padmanabhan has been appointed Senior Vice President, Sales with overall responsibility for sales across all distribution channels of Penguin Random House in India.  He will report to Gaurav Shrinagesh.

Currently VP Sales, Penguin Books India, Ananth began his career with the Landmark bookstore in Chennai, in 1992, before joining Penguin Books in 1997.  Over nearly twenty years with the company he has been instrumental in shaping the sales, distribution and representation strategy and in building Penguin’s presence across India and the Indian subcontinent. 

Formerly responsible for sales for Random House India, Nand Nath Jha has been appointed VP, International Product and Digital Sales, reporting to Ananth.  His role will include the entire portfolio of Penguin Random House Group international product and all the agency publishers it represents in India. He will also be responsible for all online and digital sales for the group and sales of children’s product. Nandan has worked in the book trade for two decades, starting his career with distributor India Book House before switching to retail (Crossword, 1995 and Jashanmals, 1998), then moving to Random House in 2000.

Manoj Satti will take on the role of General Manager International Product (Random House) and Sales Planning. Currently responsible for managing Product and Operations at Random House, Manoj began his career with Sterling Publishers and Pearson Education before moving to Random House eight years ago.  His new role will involve overseeing the product development for Random House International products and all sales forecasting across PRH portfolio of products. Manoj will report into Nandan for product and Ananth for sales planning.

Rahul Dixit, currently General Manager, Penguin Books India, in his new role as General Manager, Local Publishing and Sales, will now oversee development of product and diversified sales for all local publishing across Penguin Random House India and will continue to lead sales for North India. He will be reporting to Ananth. Rahul started his career with Penguin books in 2005 and has handled diversified sales portfolios within the company.

Gaurav Shrinagesh, CEO Penguin Random House India said:

Our new sales team represents decades of experience across a wide range of retail-related areas of publishing – distribution, shop-floor bookselling, inventory management, customer service, as well as direct representation.  This wealth of knowledge will enable Penguin Random House to continue to ensure our books reach their readers, wherever and however they buy them.

“In their years with Penguin and Random House, Ananth and Nandan have built strong reputations within the industry for their excellent relationships with customers and their expertise in navigating the changing retail landscape.  I am confident that supported by Manoj and Rahul’s knowledge of product and insight into sales development, this team will create a firm foundation for continued Penguin Random House growth.”

For further information:

Caroline Newbury, Penguin Random House, cnewbury@randomhouse.co.in, +91 9953070129

Penguin Random House India is a Penguin Random House company. Penguin Random House (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/) is the world’s first truly global trade book publisher.  It was formed on July 1, 2013, upon the completion of an agreement between Bertelsmann and Pearson to merge their respective trade publishing companies, Random House and Penguin, with the parent companies owning 53% and 47%, respectively.  Penguin Random House comprises the adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing businesses of Penguin and Random House in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India, Penguin’s trade publishing activity in Asia and South Africa; DK worldwide; and Random House’s companies in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile. Penguin Random House employs more than 10,000 people globally across almost 250 editorially and creatively independent imprints and publishing houses that collectively publish more than 15,000 new titles annually. Its publishing lists include more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.

 

About Chiki Sarkar

Chiki Sarkar was educated at Oxford University and worked in Bloomsbury Publishing, London for seven years. In 2006 she returned to India to become the first editor in chief of Random House India. She has been the publisher of Penguin Books India since 2011.

 

About Milee Ashwarya

Milee Ashwarya studied English literature at Hindu College, Delhi University and began her publishing career at Rupa & Co. In 2008, she joined Random House India as Commissioning Editor and was promoted to Senior Commissioning Editor in January 2011. Working across all genres her list of authors includes Payal Gidwani Tiwari, Pratibha Karan, Cyrus Broacha, Suhel Seth, Preeti Shenoy and Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma. She is currently Editorial Director of two imprints – Ebury India and Random Business – and is responsible for shaping Random House India’s list of popular fiction and non-fiction in all areas of lifestyle as well as business publishing.

About Meru Gokhale

A graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and the Columbia Publishing Course, New York, Meru Gokhale began her publishing career in 2004 with Penguin Books India, editing books across fiction and nonfiction, cookbooks, history and current affairs. She acquired, commissioned and edited books from authors including Orhan Pamuk, Kiran Desai, Jamil Ahmad, Sonia Faleiro and Tahmima Anam. She joined Random House as Editorial Director of the newly-created Vintage India in 2011. At Random House she has acquired and worked with authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Salman Rushdie, Helen Fielding, Nadeem Aslam, Rahul Pandita, Basharat Peer, Mohammed Hanif, and Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. In 2013 she was awarded the prestigious Jerusalem Editorial Fellowship.

 

About Hemali Sodhi

Hemali joined the publishing Industry in ’96 as a publicist with Penguin India. She has since shaped Penguin India’s marketing strategy, building a formidable brand which was, in 2012, voted as the #4 most successful brand across industries. Penguin is also the only publisher in the Country to boast its own Literature Festival in Delhi, ‘Spring Fever’ and its own lecture, ‘The Penguin Annual Lecture’, which is the largest open lecture featuring speakers as celebrated as HH the Dalai Lama. Penguin India is the most widely followed and engaged-with Publisher on social media, with its own award winning website, a hugely appreciated facebook and twitter strategy and the only publisher to have a multi-platform Mobile App. Penguin India’s marketing campaigns, both print and digital, have consistently won awards.

Hemali completed her post graduation in English literature, from Delhi University.

About Caroline Newbury

A graduate of Trinity College, Oxford University (M.A. Hons. Ancient and Modern History), Caroline Newbury joined Ebury Publishing, a division of Random House UK in 2001 as a publicity assistant.  She worked there for 11 years, rising to Deputy Publicity Director, Ebury Publishing, before moving to Delhi in April 2012. 

About Ananth Padmanabhan

Ananth began his career in publishing in ’92 as a bookseller with Landmark bookstores, based in Chennai. He joined Penguin Books in ‘97 and is currently Vice President, Sales. During the course of his career with Penguin, Ananth has shaped Penguin’s sales, distribution and representation strategy and has also been responsible for Penguin India’s digital strategy, including publishing, distribution and sales across channels and partners. He is a graduate from the University of Madras, has studied Publishing from Stanford University and has completed a course in Management from IIM Ahmedabad.

He is also a professional photographer and has done many projects, one of which, on publishing, called Calcutta: Walking in the City, can be seen on www.ananthpadmanabhan.com

About Nandan Jha

A graduate of Commerce from University of Delhi, Nandan Jha has worked in all areas of sales in book trade in the last 20 years.  He started his career with a distributor (India Book House) in 1994, switched to retail (Crossword, 1995 and Jashanmals, 1998), and then moved to a publisher (Random House Group UK, 2000). In between, he also dabbled with some publishing (Hindi & English) and freelance sales & marketing representation of several independent publishers for 4 years.

He has held the position of Vice President – Sales at Random House India since April 2010, and is also responsible for the developing and executing digital strategy for the company in the domestic and international markets.

 

About Rahul Dixit

Rahul joined Penguin in 2005 as assistant sales manager following nearly 4 years of experience in selling school books. He headed Penguin’s North India business from 2008 to 2010 before becoming product manager for Penguin Local in 2011.  In his current role as General Manager, he is responsible for all local sales and also manages Penguin’s relationship with two other local publishers Zubaan and Hay House.

 

About Manoj Satti

Manoj Satti’s career in publishing began in 2000 with Sterling Publishers handling sales and customer service activities.  After four years at Pearson Education, where he handled promotional activities for their higher education and schools divisions as well as developing and managing their website, he moved to Random House as sales administrator.   Over his seven year career with the company, he has been responsible for sales to distributors and retail across the country, the budgeting, product selection, inventory management and pricing strategy for international titles, Random House’s migration to new Microsoft ERP – Navision and few other IT initiatives – and overseeing imports, distribution and supply chain management.  He also had responsibility for the creation of the Knowledge Encyclopedia for special sales which has sold over 650,000 copies.

 

 

 

An interview in Storizen, Feb 2014

An interview in Storizen, Feb 2014

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose An interview with me published in Storizen, February 2014. It is an online literary magazine focusing upon Indian fiction in English. Here is the url: http://issuu.com/storizen/docs/feb2014/48

11 March 2014 

PubSpeak: Total Recall

PubSpeak: Total Recall

My column, “PubSpeak”, in BusinessWorld online focuses on the Wendy Doniger book controversy. Here is the url to it:   http://businessworld.in/news/economy/total-recall/1266222/page-1.html   . ) 

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose On 11 February, Penguin Books India reached a compromise drawn up in a Delhi Court that insisted it cease the publication and sale of American Indologist, Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History in India within six months. Dina Nath Batra of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samitri had filed a civil suit against the publishers to withdraw from circulation all copies. Given that Batra had filed the case four years ago and it was still subjudice, the news of this compromise spread like wildfire. Later that day, Doniger issued a press statement “I was, of course, angry and disappointed to see this happen, and I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate. And as a publisher’s daughter, I particularly wince at the knowledge that the existing books (unless they are bought out quickly by people intrigued by all the brouhaha) will be pulped. But I do not blame Penguin Books, India. Other publishers have just quietly withdrawn other books without making the effort that Penguin made to save this book. Penguin, India, took this book on knowing that it would stir anger in the Hindutva ranks, and they defended it in the courts for four years, both as a civil and as a criminal suit. They were finally defeated by the true villain of this piece — the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book that offends any Hindu, a law that jeopardises the physical safety of any publisher, no matter how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book.”Wendy Doniger

PBI logoPenguin Books India released a statement on 14 February stating “a publishing company has the same obligation as any other organisation to respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be. We also have a moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment where we can…. The settlement reached this week brings to a close a four year legal process in which Penguin has defended the publication of the Indian edition of The Hindus by Wendy Doniger. We have published, in succession, hardcover, paperback and e-book editions of the title. International editions of the book remain available physically and digitally to Indian readers who still wish to purchase it.”

What followed the announcement perhaps was only a natural outcome given the speed at which social media helps communicate information. There was public outrage at this development— newspapers, print, digital, and, of course, social media forums. A number of commentators, journalists, and even Penguin authors wrote passionately against Penguin Book India’s decision to destroy the book. Arundhati Roy in an open letter spoke of her distress and said “You owe us, your writers an explanation at the very least”. Nilanjana Roy, author and member of PEN Delhi wrote on censorship and how to remain free; Jakob de Roover in an outstanding essay “Untangling the Knot” discussed the complexities of governance, judiciary and free speech; journalist Salil Tripathi commented perceptively on the issue on many platforms ; Stephen Alter wrote, “Both as a writer and as a reader, I am deeply offended that anyone should dictate what I may read or write”; Penguin author and essayist, Amit Chaudhuri reiterated that “It’s important that the law protect all texts”; and Antara Dev Sen, Editor, The Little Magazine, wrote that the Indian Penal Code “Section 295A targets ‘deliberate and malicious acts (which include speech, writings or signs) intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs’. In an age of identity politics and hurt sentiments, this has been used frequently by politically motivated people to stifle free speech. But back in 1957, the Supreme Court had ruled that only when there is a ‘deliberate and malicious intention of outraging religious feelings’ is it an offence under this law. Higher courts in India have consistently ruled in favour of freedom of speech and have protected books and people hauled to court under this law.”

In fact, two Penguin authors, Siddharth Varadarajan and Jyotirmaya Sharma, asked for their contracts to be terminated. Another Penguin author, Arshia Sattar (who has translated Valmiki’s Ramayana and the Kathasaritsagara from Sanskrit to English) expressed her dismay at the “complete capitulation” of the firm and how her “pride and that faith has been shaken…of being with a publishing house that protected its people and the books they wrote”.

A counter legal initiative perhaps was expected. According to the website, Legally India, advocate Lawrence Liang, part of the Bangalore-based Alternative Law Forum, has issued a 30-paragraph legal notice to Penguin India, claiming that the publisher has violated freedom of speech laws and readers’ rights by agreeing to destroy all copies of Wendy Doniger’s book ‘The Hindus’. The notice sent on behalf of Liang’s clients, Shuddhabrata Sengupta and Aarthi Sethi, argues that because Penguin has agreed to withdraw the book from India and destroy all copies, after a legal dispute with a religious group, it has “effectively acknowledged that it is no longer interested in exercising” its ownership in the work and should surrender its copyright to the Indian public. Sengupta is a Delhi-based artist and writer, while Sethi is an anthropologist with a “deep interest in Hindu philosophy”, according to the legal notice. Both are “avid bibliophiles” and were apparently “delighted” when Penguin published Doniger’s book, “and as people who have closely followed the scholarly contributions of the said author they regard this book to be a significant contribution to the study of Hinduism. They consider Ms Doniger’s translations of Indian classical texts and her work on various facets of Hinduism from morality in the Mahabharata to the erotic history of Hinduism as an inspiration for their own intellectual pursuits.”

At the recent Globalocal event (German Book Office, New Delhi’s annual B2B conference on publishing), a regional language publisher wondered if it was possible for any other publisher to option this book and publish it, after all it has not been legally banned in this territory. Echoing this sentiment, Shamnad Basheer, IPR lawyer, writing in Spicy IP, reflected upon the pros and cons of compulsory licensing, and whether it was possible if a publisher decides to stop publication, one could apply for a compulsory license.

Globally Penguin has been in the news related to their peripheral businesses and their merger with Random House. In 2012, Pearson PLC (of which Penguin Books India is a part of) acquired the self-publishing firm, Author Solutions, for $116 million. But in 2013, this deal soured as a number of disgruntled authors filed lawsuits against Author Solutions for its poor service. In the landmark case pertaining to ebooks and agency pricing, in April 2012, the US Department of Justice sued Apple and five publishers, including Penguin, for conspiring to raise prices and restrain competition. This was done after Amazon filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. In 2013, Penguin was obliged to pay $75 million. George Packer observes in the New Yorker, “an enormous sum in a business that has always struggled to maintain respectable profit margins”. On 1 July 2013, the global merger between Penguin Books and Random House was announced. It was a strategic alliance, forged as a response to the growing presence of Amazon in the publishing industry. The formation of Penguin Random House (PRH) has created a group that has 25 per cent of the market share. A merger comes at a cost of resources that have to be taken into account for the new firm to begin work on a strong footing.

In Oct 2013, Penguin Random House announced the completion of its purchase of Ananda Publishers Private Limited’s minority stake in Penguin Books India. It plans to invest Rs 55 crore or $8.6 million for this stake buy. As banker-turned-author Ravi Subramanian, with whom in June 2013 Penguin Books India signed a two-book deal worth an estimated Rs 1.25 crore (approx $210,700) wrote on his blog with respect to Doniger’s case, “publishing is a business”. For any firm, particularly in publishing, this is a lot of money being moved around its balance sheets.  Naturally the ripple effect of these financial adjustments will be felt even in the local markets—it is like conducting business in a global village where in the context of a globally contacted world, the minimum consumption that people desire is also influenced by what is going on elsewhere.

Similarly, with the Doniger case, Penguin Books India has probably taken an informed business decision, based upon a global strategy when it signed this deal on 11 February, in order to preserve a healthy English-language publishing market in India.

Chiki Sarkar, Publisher, Penguin Books India, in a guest blog post in 2012 during the Banned Books week, had this to say: “Injunctions make things costly, time consuming, and take our energies away from the work we are really meant to do. And so we try and avoid them as much as possible. Apart from the fact that we don’t fight hard enough for them, I wonder whether it means we impose a kind of self-censorship on ourselves.”

Ironically this latest controversy broke exactly twenty-five years after the fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie for his ‘Satanic Verses’ published by Penguin. At the time, his publishers stood by him and did not pulp the book. The fact is publishing is a business that is built upon the creative energies and emotions of people. India is also a functioning democracy. Freedom of speech is the right of every citizen. With the General Elections less than a hundred days away, the need for openness, frank conversations without any inhibitions, and certainly not a capitulation to any ideological position is imperative.

Scholar-journalist and historian Mukul Kesavan points out that that selling books is not like selling any other commodity. Publishers have moral responsibility and a publisher voluntarily agreeing to withdraw a book has previously been challenged with the case of James Laine’s book on Shivaji in 2007. Oxford University Press voluntarily agreed to withdraw the book. An FIR was issued against the publisher and printer of the book in Pune (one charge, under Section 153 A, was ‘inciting class hatred’) and the printer was actually arrested. When the case (‘Manzar Sayeed Khan vs State Of Maharashtra, 2007’) came up before the Supreme Court, however, the government of Maharashtra’s case against the author and the publisher of the book was found to be wanting. So, there is a precedent by the Supreme Court to rule in favour of free speech.

Nevertheless, the Wendy Doniger book controversy raises a bunch of issues pertaining to the publishing industry. Questions about legislation and the freedom of speech, what are the ethics involved in publishing, do readers and authors have a right that they can exercise, what does it mean for licensing, do possibilities exist in a mixed environment of digital and print publishing such as do readers have a choice?

Finally does this self-censorship by a publishing firm mean an inadvertent promotion for self-publishing, encouraging authors to be responsible for their books completely? Interestingly in a space of less than six weeks I have heard John Makinson, CEO, Penguin Random House and Jon Fine, Director, Author & Publishing Relations, Amazon talk about their publishing businesses and both have stressed upon the importance of discoverability of an author. This controversy could not have come at a better time for Doniger and even Penguin. They have achieved the Streisand effect whereby in an attempt to censor a piece of information, it has had the unintended consequence of publicising the information more widely. It has achieved what no PR could have—a boost in sales.

21 Feb 2014 

Amazon for Authors, KDP in Delhi, 16 Feb 2014

Amazon for Authors, KDP in Delhi, 16 Feb 2014

I am assisting Amazon to put together a 2-hour event in Delhi. It is to introduce and discuss their self-publishing programme– Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. Jon P. Fine, Director of Author & Publishing Relations, Amazon.com will be present. Anyone who is interested in selfpublishing their book online is welcome to attend. It could be a book or a manual ranging from fiction, non-fiction, self-help, first aid manuals, medicine, science, gardening, cooking, collection of recipes, gardening, automobiles, finance, memoir, children’s literature, textbooks, science articles, on nature, poetry, translations, drama, interviews, essays, travel, religion, hospitality, etc. Any form of text that is to be made available as an ebook using Amazon’s Kindle programme.

This event is free, but registration before 13 Feb 2014 is a must. Please email me to confirm participation:  jayabhattacharjirose@gmail.com . Details of the event are given below.

kdp-amazon

Jon P. Fine

Director of Author & Publishing Relations, Amazon.com

 cordially invites you for a session on

 Amazon for Authors:

Navigating the Road to Self-Publishing Success

Hear how Indian authors have used Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to build and reach audiences across a variety of genres

Guest Speakers:

  • Ajay Jain, KDP author and founder of Kunzum Travel café
  • Rasana Atreya, KDP author of Tell A Thousand Lies
  • Sri Vishwanath, KDP author of books like Give Up Your Excess Baggage and The Secret of Getting Things Done

Event details:

  • Date: Sunday, February 16, 2014
  • Time: High Tea,  4:00 PM – 6:00 PM,
  • Venue: Diwan-i-Khas, Taj Mansingh

RSVP

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose

International Publishing Consultant

jayabhattacharjirose@gmail.com

Andre Schiffrin, “Publishing is transforming”

Andre Schiffrin, “Publishing is transforming”

( It is a sad day indeed. Andre Schriffin, a publishing legend has passed away. I interviewed Andre Schriffin in 2011 when he came to India. At the time I interviewed him for BusinessWorld online. Here is the link: http://www.businessworld.in/news/economy/%18publishing-is-transforming%19/359818/page-1.html, published 11 Nov 2011. I am c&p the interview below as well. ) 

Andre SchriffinParis-based publishing luminary Andre Schiffrin is renowned not necessarily for the writers he has published (Chomsky, Foucault, Hobsbawm, etc.), but also for his successful business models in publishing. Jaya Bhattacharji Rose caught up with him to discuss the present, past and future of books. Excerpts:

You have been in publishing for over 60 years now. How have things changed?
The role of the reader has always been important, but never as much as now, with the arrival of digital publishing and big chains. The challenges are mostly negative, especially for independent publishers. Google and Amazon are creating a monopoly, destroying the bookstore and the paperback. (E-books are as cheap as paperbacks.) With Amazon venturing into direct publishing, the future looks bleak for maintaining the publi-shing models of the past, where there was a stress on quality, and on nurturing new writers and thinkers. A good modern-day example worth emulating is what MIT is doing with its curriculum. It is an important model where the output is available for free.

Can you elaborate on the challenges, especially for independent publishing? 
Publishing is a macrocosm of society. Publishers need to take a risk and experi-ment with ideas and authors. Unfortunately, more than ever before, there exists a market censorship. Big publishers are being selective and, at times, conservative about what they publish. Secondly, the political decision is paramount in helping independent publishers. For instance, in Germany fixed pricing of books or resale price maintenance is important as it keeps independent bookstores alive. Publi-shers and importers of books in German have to fix a price for each book published or imported. Fixed price means all retailers will initially offer a book for sale at the same price, in whatever period of the year.

A third challenge is distribution networks. A good distribution network is the key for their survival. For example, in France, over a thou-sand independent stores have come together to share information and help each other. This network works well. So, you can order a title at any bookshop and within 24 hours it is delive-red. Finally, the role of the author in suppor-ting the independent publisher is significant.

How do you look at social media and the spaces it allows?
I am not against technology, but social media spaces are limited. It is not always easy to locate and discover, and engage with opinion makers there. It is important to be printed, published and disseminated in the traditional manner. A recent example is Time For Outrage, written by 93-year-old Stephane Hessel. Published by a small French publisher in Montpellier, and priced at a mere e3 — it has sold over 3.5 million copies so far.

How have troubles in the US and the Eurozone impacted publishing? 
Publishing in these territories is under-going a transformation. The growth of publishing firms is mainly due to M&As. But the most significant impact for Indian publi-shing is in the growth of printing. Publishers from these territories seek ways of being cost-effective, by outsourcing printing to India— and they have been doing so for a while now.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 21-11-2011)