Publishing Posts

Storyweaver, Pratham Books

final-logo-pratham-booksWelcome to StoryWeaver from Pratham Books : http://www.storyweaver.org.inbanner-2-fc6332eba5193186348e9c5190fee65b

A whole new world of children’s stories. It is a platform that hosts stories in languages across India and beyond. So that every child can have an endless stream of stories in her mother tongue to read and enjoy. StoryWeaver is an open platform designed to be innovative and interactive. It invites both, the weaver of stories and the reader to connect and share the fascinating world of words and illustrations. This then, marks a new chapter in children’s literature and publishing. Come discover the magic of stories and the joy of reading – a cornucopia that will delight endlessly.

Medianama has a wonderful article on Pratham Books and Storyweaver. It is available at: http://www.medianama.com/2015/09/223-pratham-books-open-source/ But I am also copy-pasting the text in case it is not easily available sometimes.

Non profit trust Pratham Books has launched StoryWeaver, an open source digital platform, which features 800 stories in 24 languages (14 Indian and 12 international languages), with an image repository of over 2,000 images. These will be openly licensed and free of cost; content creators and other users will be able to read, download, translate, version-ise and print through the platform. Users will also be able to create and publish new stories, using the Creative Commons licensed content on the site.

The stories are available in Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi and Odiya, along with English translations to all these languages (and Tamil and Telugu, excepting Assamese and Malayalam). It lists publishers like itself, African StoryBook Initiative and World Konkani Centre. The stories can be filtered by reading levels as well. The platform provides DIY videos for creating and translating stories. ( https://storyweaver.org.in/tutorials )

Anyone can translate stories by clicking on the ‘translate’ option under the selected story, which redirects you to login via Pratham Books, Facebook or Google+ and provides a host of Indian and African languages, along with French, German and Spanish to translate to. It displays the original text for reference and once done translating it lets users put in a new title, creator details and publish. Pratham Books says that it has generated more work opportunities for illustrators through their CC work. It also states that its primary users are teachers, librarians, writers and parents.

The trust hopes that this move will not only encourage more content creation but also address the scarcity of multilingual story resources in India and multiply it. With the launch of the platform, the trust has also created a “Weave a story” campaign where it has roped in children’s books writers Anushka Ravishankar, Soumya Rajendran, Rohini Nilekani and Rukmini Banerjee to write a special story for children. StoryWeaver will invite users to translate these stories and the trust expects that 100 new versions will spawn out of the 3 original stories. The first story to be launched on the platform is Ravishankar’s “Its All the Cat’s Fault”, which is expected to get 5 derivative versions today.

Google Impact Challenge shortlist
In August 2013, Google had shortlisted 10 non-profit organisations in India as finalists for its Google Impact Challenge intended to support a technology based social project with an award of Rs 3 crores. Among these was Pratham Books which intended to develop an open source platform to create and translate 20,000 e-books in minimum 25 languages to enable 20 million book reads by 2015.

Launch of books crowdsourcing platform
In June, Pratham Books launched a crowdsourcing platform called DonateABook which let nonprofits and schools raise funding for books in order to provide them to Indian children. It connected book seekers with people who wanted to give books away. Then, there were 30 campaigns on the website, looking to raise between Rs 3,500- Rs 110,000 for multiple cities and towns in India.

The projects have been assigned for underprivileged kids, kids from government schools in villages, immigrant construction workers’ children and more, and sought books across Indian and English languages. Individuals as well as organisations who wanted to get books for the children they work with could also start campaigns on the platform. The platform sought to get 50,000 books for children by this Children’s Day, which falls on 14 November every year.

The Bangalore-based trust publishes cost effective books across Indian languages. It publishes books across genres like fiction, science, history, maths and nature among others. It claims to have published over 300 original titles in 18 languages, totalling up to 2,000 books across genres of fiction, nonfiction, and story books on science, history, mathematics and nature

 

8 Sept 2015

“A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces”, an interview with David Davidar, Kitaabnama

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, Episode 85, Kitaabnama, 10 April 2015An interview with writer, publisher and anthologist, David Davidar regarding his new book, A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces. It is a collection of 39 short stories by Indian writers. It consists of translations and those written originally in English and has been published by Aleph Book 20150811_090538Company. This episode of Kitaabnama was recorded on 10 April 2015.

Kitaabnama is a weekly programme on national television, Doordarshan. Conceived by writer and literary activist Namita Gokhale, the programme will have a participatory and inclusive format and showcase the multilingual diversity of Indian Literature. Addressing literary issues of contemporary through dialogue and conversation, Kitaabnama features 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.

11 August 2015

James Wood and Tim Parks, two critics, two books

Tim ParksTwo prominent literary commentators and critics — James Wood and Tim Parks— have release books within months of each other. Both the books are compilations of previously delivered speeches and/or columns. James Wood’s The Nearest Thing To Life is a collection of Mandel lectures delivered in April 2013 at the Mandel Center for the Humanities, Brandeis University. It also contains a lecture delivered in February 2014 at the British Museum in a series run by the museum and the London Review of Books. Tim Parks Where I’m Reading From is a compilation of essays first published in the New York Review of Books.

Both the critics have chosen to write part-memoir, part-reflective essays but very germane James Woodto contemporary conversations about publishing, writing, reading and literary criticism. Since these were written over a short period of a time, published more or less immediately, these observations encapsulate a period in publishing history which would otherwise get lost in the deluge of information available online. To read these essays printed and bound as a book allows one the pleasure of absorbing the ideas at one’s pace. There is a range of issues they cover — reading, what constitutes good criticism, what is the hallmark of a good writer and critic, what constitutes disciplined reading, of literary prizes, storytelling and the notion of “home” that surfaces regularly among writers including these essayists, both of whom are Englishmen but reside in other countries — Tim Parks in Italy and James Wood in America. This eternal question about what constitutes “home” turns their attention on world literature. It is also fascinating to discover the strict Christian upbringing both the critics had which they consciously chose to move away from  — it requires tremendous grit and determination to transcend this — to read literature as acutely as they do, is astounding.

At a time when discussions about global literature, significance of translations, accessing new literature and cultures and cross-pollinations of literary traditions and techniques dominate, to have two prominent critics discuss world literature is significant. Tim Parks’s fearlessly exquisite essay, “The Dull New Global Novel” ( NYRB blog, 9 February 2010. http://bit.ly/1PnbidG)  and James Wood engaging essay in “Secular Homelessness” based on his impressive close reading of literature for the New Yorker ( Essay and podcast available at “On Not Going Home” LRB, Vol 36 No. 4, 20 February 2014. http://bit.ly/1PnbABm ). Reading literature especially fiction gives a literary critic formidable insight into socio-eco-political scenarios, raising questions, but connecting dots of daily life that would otherwise pass by us in a blur little realising their import. For instance the conversations about world literature and “tangle of feelings” as evident in world literature are closely aligned to issues about emigration/ immigration/ exile ( voluntary and otherwise), idea of home, the global village becoming a repository of many cultural influences  instead of being culturally homogeneous and undisturbed for many years, what are the politics of translations etc. Both critics, Tim Parks and James Wood, dwell at length on this as illustrated by a couple of extracts from the essays:

Tim Parks

What are the consequences for literature? From the moment an author perceives his ultimate audience as international rather than national, the nature of his writing is bound to change. In particular one notes a tendency to remove obstacles to international comprehension. Writing in the 1960’s, intensely engaged with his own culture and its complex politics, Hugo Claus apparently did not care that his novels would require a special effort on the reader’s and above all the translator’s part if they were to be understood outside his native Belgium. In sharp contrast, contemporary authors like the Norwegian Per Petterson, the Dutch Gerbrand Bakker, or the Italian Alessandro Baricco, offer us works that require no such knowledge or effort, nor offer the rewards that such effort will bring.

More importantly the language is kept simple. Kazuo Ishiguro has spoken of the importance of avoiding word play and allusion to make things easy for the translator. Scandinavian writers I know tell me they avoid character names that would be difficult for an English reader.

If culture-specific clutter and linguistic virtuosity have become impediments, other strategies are seen positively: the deployment of highly visible tropes immediately recognizable as “literary” and “imaginative,” analogous to the wearisome lingua franca of special effects in contemporary cinema, and the foregrounding of a political sensibility that places the author among those “working for world peace.” So the overstated fantasy devices of a Rushdie or a Pamuk always go hand in hand with a certain liberal position since, as Borges once remarked, most people have so little aesthetic sense they rely on other criteria to judge the works they read.

James Wood

What I have been describing, both in my own life and in the lives of others, is more like secular homelessness. It cannot claim the theological prestige of the transcendent. Perhaps it is not even homelessness; homelooseness (with an admixture of loss) might be the necessary (hideous) neologism: in which the ties that might bind one to Home have been loosened, perhaps happily, perhaps unhappily, perhaps permanently, perhaps only temporarily. Clearly, this secular homelessness overlaps, at times, with the more established categories of emigration, exile and postcolonial movement. Just as clearly, it diverges from them at times. Sebald, a German writer who lived most of his adult life in England (and who was thus perhaps an emigrant, certainly an immigrant, but not exactly an émigré, nor an exile), had an exquisite sense of the varieties of not-belonging. He came to Manchester, from Germany, in the mid-1960s, as a graduate student. He returned, briefly, to Switzerland, and then came back to England in 1970, to take a lectureship at the University of East Anglia. The pattern of his own emigration is one of secular homelessness or homelooseness. He had the economic freedom to return to West Germany; and once he was well known, in the mid-1990s, he could have worked almost anywhere he wanted to. 

Sebald seems to know the difference between homesickness and homelessness. If there is anguish, there is also discretion: how could my loss adequately compare with yours? Where exile is often marked by the absolutism of the separation, secular homelessness is marked by a certain provisionality, a structure of departure and return that may not end. This is a powerful motif in the work of Aleksandar Hemon, a Bosnian-American writer who came to the States from Sarajevo, in 1992, only to discover that the siege of his hometown prohibited his return. Hemon stayed in America, learned how to write a brilliant, Nabokovian English (a feat in some sense greater than Nabokov’s because achieved at a steroidal pace), and published his first book, The Question of Bruno, in 2000 (dedicated to his wife, and to Sarajevo). Once the Bosnian war was over, Hemon could, presumably, have returned to his native city. What had not been a choice became one; he decided to make himself into an American writer.

These books are a precious addition to my personal library.

Tim Parks Where I’m Reading From Harvill Secker, London, 2014. Hb. pp.250 Rs 599

James Wood The Nearest Thing To Life Jonathan Cape, London, 2015. Hb. pp. 140. Rs 599

15 May 2015 

 

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