Publishing

–says Sir Mark Tully, a British writer, author, former bureau chief of BBC, journalist and an expert on India. Sir William Mark Tully, popularly known as Mark Tully was a household name in most of India for his quality commentaries about happenings in India for many years….way back in 1970s. Former bureau chief of BBC, New Delhi, he held the position for 20 years. Tully was awarded the Padmashree in 1992 and in 2005 he received the Padma Bhushan. In a recent interview with him, Smita Dwivedi discovers his eternal love for India & Indian things; radio; his reasons for continuing living in India and why ink & paper books will always charm intellectuals. Tully was born in Tollygunge, British India in 1935 and spent early years of his childhood in India before leaving country for higher education at age of nine. And later when he joined the BBC in 1964, he again moved back to India in 1965 to work as the India correspondent. He covered all major incidents in South Asia during his tenure, ranging from Indo-Pakistan conflicts, Bhopal gas tragedy, Operation Blue Star (for the subsequent assassination of Indira Gandhi, anti-Sikh riots), assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to the demolition of Babri Masjid. Before resigning from BBC in July 1994, he presented an episode of BBCs Great Railway Journeys "Karachi to The Khyber Pass" traveling by train across Pakistan. Since 1994 he has been working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in New Delhi. He is currently the regular presenter of the weekly BBC Radio 4 programme Something Understood.

In companionship with books!

Mark TullyAccording to Tully, one must be an avid reader first, before being an author or writer. On asking about his journey with books he added, “Unlike most of the people of my fraternity, I started enjoying book lately. But, now I read quite a lot. I don’t use any devices to read book, I love hard copies. Now many people send me manuscripts to write foreword and I am very bad in saying NO. So, I have to read a lot of books. My keen interest in spirituality and religion keeps me busy reading and buying many books to read.”

Being an author!

Tully's first book on India Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi's Last Battle was published in the year 1985, it was co-authored with his colleague in BBC Delhi, Satish Jacob; his next book Raj to Rajiv: 40 Years of Indian Independence was co-authored with Zareer Masani, and was based on a BBC radio series of the same name. In the US, this book was published under the title India: Forty Years of Independence. Tully's only work of fiction was The Heart of India, which was published in 1995. He later wrote India's Unending Journey in 2008 and India: The Road Ahead in 2011, published in India under the title Non-Stop India. In the area of religion, Tully has authored An Investigation into The Lives of Jesus in 1996 to accompany the BBC series of the same name, and Mother in 1992 on Mother Teresa. And No Full Stops in India, one of Mark Tully's best-known books, was published in 1992. Sharing his experiences about being an author, for so many years now, he added, “I never wrote manuscripts in short hand…I prefer expanded form of writing. My first book was fully complied on old typewriter. And I have a privilege of exploring virgin lands of India. I experienced entire India, which helped a lot in bringing out my subsequent books. I travelled all over with my partner Gillian Wright.”

Telling Tales!

According to Tully, any thought, expression or knowledge when put in words is an inception of a new book, if taken seriously. “I have been making a programme for BBC Radio 4 called Something Understood. I make 30 such episodes a year, which are made in batches of six. I make three in India and the rest in the UK. It’s a discussion about matters, such as philosophy, poetry, religion, all sorts of things, but less in the rational field and more in the intuition field. So, I am writing something every day,” he added.

And sharing a story about his last published book titled Non-Stop India, he said, “A very talented editor came to see me and buying viagra online recommended site said she was interested in my programme and asked me why I didn’t write a book about the subjects I was covering on Something Understood. And that’s how it came about.”

Loving India…

Tully’s love for India and Indian is known world over. Most of his works are based on India. The books that he wrote on India share deep insight of a thoughtful man without being judgmental about customs, traditions, beliefs and ways of India and its people. On asking about the same he happily shared, “It’s my destiny to be in India and I have happily accepted it. I was born in India, in East Bengal, and spent nine to 10 years of my childhood here under the British Raj. I always felt peculiarly at home here. Almost all of My BBC career was spent here, so I do feel that it’s largely that I am meant to be here. And I have no plans to leave India as I am in love with the country.”

Message to all readers!

Being a veteran, Tully shared separate messages for publishers, authors and readers. To book publishing fraternity, he appealed, “I wish more of the books in the Indian languages were translated into English as there is some wonderful stuff. I feel that nowadays everybody is writing a book. It seems funny to me, I believe that one should never write a book, if there’s no reason to write it.”

And for readers, he added, “Buy more books and read more books as there is no substitute to good books. And charm of holding a book in hand and smell of ink and paper will always augment the process of book reading.”



–Pre-media service providers across the country are offering high-quality pre-media services to publishers across the globe. Varsha Verma shares more on this industry segment and trends within. Pre-media is the term that is used in the design, creative and publishing industries for the processes and procedures that occur between the conception of original artwork and the manufacturing of final output channel. It is a process that combines creative art and technology to communicate the final message to a consumer.

A lot of pre-media service providers in India have emerged due to good quality, timely delivery and of course low rates. These pre-media service providers offer and supply ready-to-publish files developed on industry-standard software, delivered on the platform of choice and ensuring that the client’s requirements are met.

These service providers also work on e-books, e-learning solutions, etc. On an average e-books are 30 percent of revenues from developed markets and are forecasted to be 10 percent of revenues in developing markets like India with the growth anticipated to be three-fold. There are early signs that e-books are going to make a big impact in the Indian sub-continent in the coming years. Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce company and BookGanga have already ventured into e-book infrastructure space, selling e-books in India. Penguin India has also released e-books by Indian authors. Readers in India can purchase e-books from any of these retailers at international prices – Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Google, Gardners, Sony, OLF, Apabi, Go Spoken/Mobcast, OverDrive, eBooks.com, IGroup and Baker & Taylor.

By 2015, Asia will account for the second highest e-learning expenditures after North America which has till now shown a growth rate of around 10 percent in this segment. In India, the e-learning market is growing at a rate of almost 20 percent. Higher education e-learning is major market revenue generator in e-learning industry today. Right from playschools to universities, everybody is trying to compliment their traditional classroom training with some sort of e-learning courses as well. However not all schools and colleges are open to this technology yet. Some have opted for hybrid learning which includes use of AV and laptops in classrooms with some online learning.

This has opened up new avenues for publishers who, in turn, are utilising the services of such pre-media service providers, instead of investing on their own in this field. In fact, India is a hub for such pre-media services and almost every other such service provider is working for global companies.

What makes India a preferred destination? What is the total expanse of this business and what are the opportunities and challenges in this segment, finds out Varsha Verma.

Publishing industry today…

“Growth in digital media has revolutionised the world and of course the publishing industry. Authors looking for publishers now have the option of self publishing. The publishing industry is experiencing a paradigm shift. The recent statistics related to digital books sale and purchase, e-readers, tablets and e-book lending, etc. reveal that there is a boom in the e-books domain. The rise in the sale of e-books is having a dramatic effect on the sale of print books,” tells Nitasha Malhotra, e-sales and marketing manager, Realty Pre-Media Service Pvt Ltd, Pune. Headquartered in Pune, India, their core focus has been in pre-media services, e-books, design and digitisation services. Established in the year 1997, they currently have around 120+ employees.

Pros and cons of going digital….

“E-book sales do not involve any overhead cost to the publishers/authors as compared to the print books which involve cost of printing, binding, storing and distribution. Another added advantage is the possibility to add interactivity in the digital version of the books and make reading more engaging for the readers. E-books run over variety of devices – tablets, mobiles, e-readers, etc. Tablet devices (iPad, Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab) have played a vital role in interactive children e-books,” shared Nitasha.

Many publishers are struggling with adopting new processes that fit with their existing processes and deliverables. “Content is now available in many different formats, depending on publisher uptake of new technologies. Customers are confused about why they can’t get the content they want in all the ways they want it. The publishing industry is at an inflection point and most publishers seem to be looking to the market to make a strong direct statement about the direction they should take with their products and processes instead of taking the lead,” told Ameet Chauhaan- president and CEO, vPrompt eServices, who offer enhanced, interactive e-books in English and in almost all foreign languages, besides offering services like digitisation of content-XML based solutions, pre-press or composition services for books, journals, magazines, etc. with a staff strength of 350, they work on various platforms.

At the same time, the publishers/authors have to part with their revenue as commission to the aggregators like Apple, Amazon, etc. “These platforms not only provide them with a popular distribution channel but also provide technology that prevents unauthorised sharing, forwarding and copying of the e-book formats. Also there are some people who advocate that nothing can substitute for the look and feel and smell of a real book. And of course the digital books need a suitable device/platform for reading unlike the print book which can be read by anyone who knows the language,” said Nitasha as a matter of fact.

Publishers on e-books…

The publishers were initially reluctant as they were not sure of two things, whether e-books will sell? And whether the e-books will be secure and free from piracy? But now the situation has changed. “Publishers do not want to stay away from this revolution and reap the benefits of earning more revenue at low added cost. Also readers now are more interested in digital formats as the penetration of devices has increased considerably,” added Nitasha.

“There are major disparities in how publishers are dealing with recent technology changes. Many are experimenting with new models and deliverables on a limited basis, while others are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach and not changing much at all. In the meantime, new companies are stepping in to fill the gap between existing publishing processes and outputs with products that are born-digital,” shared Ajay Srivastava, managing director, vPrompt eServices.

In 2013, somewhere between a fifth and a third of book publishing revenue in the US came from the sale of e-books. Till 2013, there was a growth in this number as more and more publishers were getting their backlist converted. But now this figure seems to be stagnated. Now publishers, authors, etc will not hesitate to continue experimenting with new kind of content.” The recent development in digital publishing is augmented reality for print books. By means of this technology, one can add an amazing experience to the print books,” told Nitasha.

E-learning: a growing segment

E-learning as an industry is in the midst of massive growth. “With the cost of implementing e-learning tools falling and increase in demand for such courses, more and more schools, colleges, universities have added online courses and distance learning to their programmes. e-learning has led to development of classes without boundaries and walls. The students are benefited as the cost of such programmes is considerably low. At the same time, the lecturers, presenters, etc are also compensated for their knowledge and skills due to large participation. Use of videos, audios, animations make learning fun and effective for the students,” shared Nitasha.

Publishers have also taken advantage of this new trend and are getting their education content adapted/developed to suit this trend. Due to the limited knowledge regarding the array of features and formats available in digital publishing, publishers need the services of some specialised digital solution providers and consultants.

Standing out from the crowd…

But the question is - how can publishers ensure that their books are discovered in the online environment where shelf space is infinite and titles huge? “A properly entered metadata helps in fruitful search of the book on popular search engines. Just converting to e-book and uploading it to stores online may not lead to its sales and popularity. One has to reach out the masses and the best way to do so is use internet to market your book(s). Use of social media marketing services in order to reach out to your target audiences helps to increase the presence and hence sales of the book. We, at Reality Pre-Media, help publishers to harness the benefits of various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and all others. We also offer SEO services to promote their website and hence their books. Use of appropriate keywords is highly recommended,” told Nitasha.

While, T Giriraj, sr. director strategic planning, vPrompt eServices, shared, “Creating a high quality digital archive is at the top of the list. Engage a high quality content services partner who has good experience in this area. Make sure that content components are done properly (full linking for references, images that scale to work on multiple devices, charts and tables in fixed layout format to preserve context, etc). Once you have a strong set of content, then decide on a sales and delivery model, and finally, license or build tools that make the content more findable and useful. Consider adding interactivity that creates additional value for digital content.”

Challenges faced…

The content services industry is very competitive, with numerous new companies coming into the space, increasing operational costs for suppliers and a continued reduction in profit margins as customers look for the very best pricing. “vPrompt is coping by specialising in high quality processes and deliverables and in focusing on customer service and communication that goes beyond expectations,” told Giriraj.

“Availability of free conversion tool and lack of awareness are the two key challenges that we face today. Many publishers believe that the freely available conversion tools should work equally for them and convert their books to e-book formats without any error. We have to educate the publishers about the shortcoming of such tools as they do not produce professional e-book formats and the styling of the book is often messed up. The e-books so produced are rejected by Apple and other platforms due to invalid characters. We, being one of the pioneers in this field, offer extremely professional service with three levels of quality assurance.

We not just offer conversion services but act as a digital consultants for our client offering them solutions pertaining to conversion, marketing and distribution,” told Nitasha.

Besides, there is a cut throat competition and a price war among the service providers and as everywhere the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ hold true here also,” added Nitasha.

Business…

“Most of the business comes from international publishers though the domestic publishers have now started taking interest. Approximately 90 percent of our business comes from territories across the globe (excluding India) with major chunk coming from US and UK,” told Nitasha.

Similarly, Giriraj shared that their major clients are from US, UK, and Australia. “We have started doing work on Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages apart from other languages such as Persian, Urdu and Indian languages,” he added.

Looking ahead…

“Though the e-book market is still in its infancy stage in India and may have some teething problems also, like low e-reader adoption and penetration rate, low internet penetration rate and e-commerce transactions (11 percent), etc. The government has plans to have the internet penetration rate of 25 percent by the end of 2015. With a huge population, a literacy rate of 75 percent and growing and a steady growth of infrastructure, domestic market of India is definitely going to be a huge digital publishing market!” shared Nitasha.

Similar views were shared by Giriraj. “We also think that India is on the verge of digital revolution. With the availability of bandwidth, infrastructure, people are more inclined to using online e-content. This is not to say that the print publishing will go away but with the emergence of e-books, e-content, there is an increasing shift towards online content. Also the rapid growth of mobile smart phones and notebooks has really helped people to access data faster anytime, anywhere. The revolution is happening in every sector be it mobile, healthcare, education, retail, finance, logistics and travel. On content side, interactive e-books, mobile apps and knowledge based services are fast emerging and we at vPrompt are very much a part of this revolution,” concluded Giriraj.

“Publishing is a unique business that needs both skill and technology”

shares Vinay K Singh, executive director, Thomson Digital, a division of Thomson Press (India) Ltd, in a chat with ABP editors SK Khurana and Varsha Verma.

Vinay K SinghThe world is flat wrote Thomas L Friedman. It has never been as levelled and flatter for the publishing industry across the globe. Books can reach anywhere…threats and opportunities are everywhere. Publishing services is not an organised industry in India but the prevailing pessimistic views about the industry are irrelevant; the industry is growing but requires certain degree of healthy competitiveness, discipline and professionalism,” says Vinay K Singh, executive director, Thomson Digital. Thomson Digital is a full-service publishing solutions company with a global reach. With its expertise spanning end-to-end solutions in content development, content processing, e-learning, rich media and conversion services; it is a one-stop-service provider for publishers and professional institutions across the world. As part of India Today Group, a highly regarded media house in India, Thomson Digital carries a legacy of nearly five decades.

“Infact, India has 80 percent of the global pre-media business as a country, which may amount to $4 billion worth of business. But, there are rules in the game, suppliers are falling prey to their own greeds. In a race of growth and overnight success, they are potentially compromising on quality/service which could be a significant trick for its sustenance in future and that is a major deterrent to the industry. Publishing is a cyclical business and there are set number of customers, who allocate different shares to various solutions providing companies,” tells Vinay as a matter of fact.

Pondering on the challenges within the industry, Vinay also talked about the manpower issue, “The employees move from one company to another for instant gratification. In fact, it is difficult to estimate the actual worth of each employee as in an effort to attract talent from the industry, companies do not shy away from giving manifold higher salaries to the people coming from their counterparts. The cost of attrition and training also adds further. It is difficult to find employable talents even in big cities like Delhi and Chennai as the quality of affordable talents are hard to train and retain.”

“Then comes the infrastructure, electricity and the diesel prices, also adding direct costs. This is the reason why publishing houses are also moving from metro cities like Delhi/NCR to other cities like Trivandrum, Dehradun and other two-three tier cities, ” he adds.

New office in Gangtok…

“Very recently, we have also opened up a new facility in Gangtok, which employs 200 people. Since the weather in this place is wonderful and infrastructure and manpower cost does not go that high, we will be able to get good results,” shares Vinay.

Telling more about the new office in Gangtok, Vinay shares that the quality of people is good as their language skills are fine and above all lot of hands-on educated people are females, who make excellent employees in this field. “We have deputed 12 trainers and managers from our NSEZ unit from Noida,” he adds.

On Noida unit…

As a matter of fact, the NSEZ Noida unit of Thomson Digital now employs 1,200 people, working round-the-clock in three shifts on various products like books, journals and magazines. “For magazines, we do everything besides editing while for print and e-products, we provide 100 percent publishing solutions,” tells Vinay. They do a mix of all kinds of books – though less number of black-and-white books. The trade books are full of text, while the illustrated books are all-colour.

Technology is prime at Thomson Digital and they have employed 100 people in R&D and have recently come up with a ‘push-button’ technology which works on the principle 1P1P which means one person, one project. “With this, we are able to cut down our turnaround time from 6 days to 24 hours, besides having complete control over the project. This is a game changing technology and we had launched this last year during Frankfurt Book Fair,” tells Vinay.

On asking about their success mantra, Vinay replies that undoubtedly, the business is run for making money, but there is an element of passion that keeps the management on track and is shared by the employees as well. “Our company can boast of the single set of investors since the day it came into being, thus the passion, culture and objectives of the company have remained intact over the years. We have not believed in growing in numbers, but in the focus towards contribution we make,” he shares.

Looking ahead…

With the new Indian government in place, which seems to be very dynamic and result-oriented, Vinay is also hopeful that the new budget and other reforms would help the industry to grow.

“Publishing is a unique business that needs both skill and technology in equal proportion. The industry has been ever since the mankind existed and it will continue to flourish as there will always be a need for content, publishing and knowledge, but may be in multiple formats,” concludes Vinay optimistically.



The zeal for dissemination of knowledge to the student community and to the ever increasing number of learners resulted in the establishment of Nirali Prakashan 35 years ago. Catching the nerve of the student and academic community, Nirali Prakashan ventured into the realm of publishing and distributing content written by professors and other academicians. Nirali Prakashan’s philosophy of 'make a customer, not a sale; make a book, not money' has ensured that their presence in the publishing industry has grown from strength to strength. The love and acceptance showered by the student and academic community made Nirali Prakashan one of India’s oldest sources of authoritative academic content with more than 3,000 titles published till date.

Journey down the lane…

Nirali Prakashan was founded by Dinesh Furia, a trusted friend of many academicians in the University of Pune. Nirali Prakashan has changed the nature of the traditional academic book and is proud to say that their books are currently being read by lakhs of readers.

Nirali Prakashan has achieved excellence in designing and publishing textbooks also commonly defined as manuals of instruction or standard books in various branches of study which are produced according to the demand of educational institutions.

Authors…

The company specialises in quality text books from school to postgraduate levels. These books are written as per the syllabus of Indian universities, by eminent and experienced authors in their subjects. Most of the books are also prescribed as basic texts by several universities and thus, are widely used by the student community. The subjects covered are Management, Engineering, Pharmacy, Computer Science, Arts and Commerce, to name a few.

New markets, offerings and innovations…

Nirali Prakashan has very recently entered the competitive and reference book fields. The enthusiasm and passion to help students has translated into the production of CDs for Medical and Engineering entrance and other competitive examinations.

Advent into ebooks…

The publication is also proud of the fact that it is one of the few Indian publishers who have, keeping in mind the advent of modern technology in publishing, introduced its bestselling titles in the e-book format available on Amazon, Flipkart, Repro, Bookshelf, BookGanga, Attano.com and many others.

Mobile website…

After months of hard work and dedication, Nirali Prakashan officially launched their mobile website early this year. Their goal with this new website is to provide their visitors and customers an easier way to access the wide realm of books published by them. They have completely redesigned their layout for mobile users keeping in mind simplicity, ease of use, and a strong focus on content delivery. This new mobile website is interactive, gives better and instant access, is extremely user friendly and compatible with most operating systems and mobile technologies.

Distribution…

Apart from publishing, Nirali has developed a wide network of dealers and distributors to make their books readily available to a large section of student community, all over India. With its success in publishing for over 35 years, Nirali has now been able to extend its activities abroad.

Awards …

Nirali Prakashan is a recipient of two awards and one certificate of merit granted by the Federation of Indian Publishers for excellence in book production.



Ricoh India educates printers on the applications and futuristic approach of digital printers in three major cities across India. A report.

SK Khurana, editor, ABP taking part in traditional lamp lighting in New Delhi along with Amila Singhvi, Anjana Saha, Manoj Kumar and Avijit Mukherjee.Ricoh India recently organised continuous feed education event titled ‘Futuristic Trend: Print & Beyond’ in three different locations – Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. The three events were equally inspiring and informative for printers across these major cities. The format of the events was convincing, wherein the attendees were informed about the activities of Ricoh and its operations in India, how digital is complementing offset printing, its various applications, different models offered by Ricoh for varied application and case studies of different end-users joining the digital bandwagon.

Manoj Kumar, executive vice president and chief executive officer, Ricoh India informed the audience about Ricoh and its operations in India. Ricoh India Limited is a public limited company with 26.4 percent owned by Indian public and 73.6 percent by Ricoh Company, Limited, Japan. Founded in 1936, the Ricoh Group is headquartered in Tokyo. From printing & document solutions to IT services to communication systems, they have created offerings that address the ever-evolving and diverse needs of customers under a holistic umbrella. In India, Ricoh is a market leader in its key categories and enjoys immense customer confidence in the wide variety of products and solutions. In India, Ricoh operates through a robust network of 24 offices, and over 2,500 dealers and business associates spread across the country. “Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change., Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees,” he shared.

While Avijit Mukherjee, chief operating officer, Production Printing Business Group at Ricoh India Limited focused on the paradigm changes in printing industry. “Digital printing will not replace offset,” he said, “it will complement offset process.” He also highlighted a valid point that paper do not contaminate environment, e-waste contaminates it. Avijit also focused on the use of digital printing in book publishing industry wherein it can be used to physically print at different locations as and when required, thereby saving huge inventory and transportation costs. “Book publishing industry works on speculative inventory model, which is a challenge with new authors and this is where digital printing fits in perfectly,” he said.

Anjana Saha, national business and marketing manager, Ricoh India, highlighted the cutting-edge technology of Ricoh, especially the continuous feed inkjet printers. She informed that there has been a rise of 15 percent in colour digital pages in North America while in Western Europe, the growth has been 12 percent. “Almost 67.2 billion colour pages were printed by digital, of which 34 percent were printed by high speed continuous feed. Of these, 53 percent were transactional printing while books accounted for 18 percent,” she shared.

Anjana also focused on Ricoh InfoPrint 5000 GP models, which enable full-colour, monochrome and MICR printing on a wide range of paper stocks and at a variety of speeds. “Colourful graphics and personalised printing makes information easier to understand, which can help open new revenue opportunities in fast-changing markets,” she said.

While, Roger Burkhardt, sales support HAS, Hunkeler AG, Switzerland shared their range of finishing solutions comprises modules for unwinding and winding, cutting, punching and stacking, all of it rounded off by their web inspection system for continuous print and quality monitoring. He also invited attendees to the Hunkeler Innovationdays to be held for the 11th time at the Messe Lucerne exhibition facility from February 23 to 26, 2015.

Subhasis Ganguly, vice president production & content management at Penguin Books India, discussed the future trends in publishing. He specifically highlighted a few real-life incidents when digital printing had helped them gain a cutting edge. For example, the title The Accidental Prime Minister, which was planned with a print run of 8,000 copies, sold 47,000 copies in 17 days, with six reprints and few copies were also printed digitally. Similarly, their book Unrealistic Elections sold 5,000 copies of which 250 were digitally printed. “Lot of money goes waste in stocking and later pulping the unused stocks, hence for books whose sales cannot be gauged beforehand, digital is the best option,” he said. He also mentioned about Print on Demand, vanity publishing and personalised children books, which are seeing good scope with digital printing.

While, a spokesperson from Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (India) Ltd (CESC) shared the success story of their company, wherein they have used digital printers to print variable data on the electric bills. This variable data has the best applications like advertisements targeted at specific strata, age and gender.

The Mumbai event was attended by end-users like Mail Order Solutions (I) Pvt Ltd, Kadam Digital, Seshasai and a delegation from Mumbai Mudrak Sangh, among many others. And Delhi event was attended by publishers and printers like Pratham Books, Sterling Publishers, International Print-o-Pac, Gopsons, Replika, Avantika, Directorate of Printing – Government of India and a group delegation from Delhi Printers’ Association, to name a few.

The Chennai event was also attended by many participants including Multivista Global, Scitech Publications, Seenu Prints, Rajams Digital Offset, Sharp Offset, Platinum Printer, SSE Print Points, AV Prints, Hi-Tech Offset, Maruthi Graphics and members of MPLA.



India is a land of saints and gods…some are ancient and some are new. But, they all have their own theologies and beliefs existing in the form of words…and words are best preserved in the form of books. Religious and spiritual books are present in every home, and people resort to such books for attaining inner peace and motivation. Here, Smita Dwivedi brings an insight into this genre of publishing.

Religious and spiritual books seek to revive interest in spirituality, enhance the quality of life and thereby create the legacy of a better world for future generations. There is always a demand for religious and spiritual books and one of the most common reasons for this is hectic and stressful lifestyle. In current context, the publishing industry has grown manifold and a considerable pie is dedicated to religious book publishers. Small, medium and large publishers co-exist to cater to an ever-growing market of religious books.

The religious books are not confined to the set of four Vedas, one of the oldest religious literatures for Hindus; the Quran for Muslims, the Bible for Christians, and Shri Guru Granth Sahib for Sikhs…so on…it is a much broader segment. Like Dev Om, founder, I Am Happy Foundation and author, ShivaConsciousness coach and spiritual guide shared, “Our books are about ‘practical spirituality’. We don’t give any new concepts. We tell about the practical life, practical empowerment, practical growth and all this is not dependent on any outside activity but only on the inner awareness. His bestsellers are The Light a complete guidebook for spiritual growth, Aatmbodh, Shiva Sutra, ShivaConsciousness, Heal Your Today and Meditation for New Age Men.”

While, Ved Chawla of Dreamland Publications, publishers of quality religious literature for children, shared, “With the change in social and cultural scenario, I feel epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are very important. But in terms of business, a lot of potential is still lying untapped.”

And as per Prassana, trustee, Sri Sri Publications Trust (publication division of The Art of Living), “Over the last 30 years The Art of Living is making people emotionally and spiritually independent and equipping them to handle their minds and emotions more effectively with our Guru Ji’s words.”

Why religious and spirituality books?

While, there are a few publishers who are focused only on religious and spiritual books, many other publishers also come up with interesting books on religion from time to time. One such publisher is Niyogi Books and on asking about the popularity of these books, Bikash D Niyogi of Niyogi Books stated, “Competition in the society is urging people to be more proactive. And sense of insecurity in the society is urging them to look for spiritual/emotional shelter in forms of books.”

While, Gulshan Dudani of Geeta Publishing House, Pune shared, “Our spiritual leader, mentor and preceptor, Rev. Dada JP Vaswani feels that people are being systematically deprived of the presence of God, and the consciousness of the spirit, the ‘atman’, in their daily lives. This creates a vacuum which nothing else can really fill. So they feel the need to turn to something deeper, something less materialistic and more fulfilling. The 20th century was often seen as an age of ‘rootless’ people. Now, the same people are driven to recognise their roots and value their culture. Our founder Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani anticipated this need over eighty years ago. This is why he emphasised the writing and publishing of literature that would help cultivate the soul. What you refer to as ‘brisk business’ may be in terms of number of books sold; we see this as fulfilling a deep spiritual need of all thinking people.”

“Everything that we have today is basically need based and I feel the biggest need for today’s generation and people is spirituality. We all are living in a world of constant change, the anticipation level has increased manifold. We cannot say to our boss that I can do only this much, we have to increase our capabilities. And for doing so, we need positive energy. So we are dependent on these books. Unless we have a stress-free mind and a violence-free society, we cannot achieve world peace,” opined Prassana.

Enormous market potential…

“Quite simply, it is as big as the entire reading public of this world! The moment I realise that there is more to life than livelihood, mere amassing of wealth will no longer satisfy me. This is happening even to our teenagers and young professionals now. Some of them are fortunate enough to be associated with spiritual teachers and mentors with personal contacts or as volunteers for a worthy cause. To those who are not so fortunate, books are the next best thing!” told Gulshan.

While, RP Jain of Motilal Banarsidass (MLBD), legends in religious book publishing in India, added, “The market around the world for such books is sizeable enough and quite huge in millions, if not billions! For instance the growth rate for Yoga & Spirituality is booming around the world more than India; perhaps, because several teaching centers are rendering courses on Indic wisdom for the modern age! Similarly, due to spread of Ayurveda in health sector, many spas are flourishing.”

While, Baldev Verma, branch head, India Book Distributor (Bombey) Ltd, New Delhi, sellers of Yogi Impressions’ self-help, personal growth and spiritual books, said, “Readers are reading these subjects to build up their knowledge and mental peace. Market is quite huge for these books in our country.”

Sri Sri Publications Trust has rich knowledge of production and marketing of products and has been doing so for over a decade. Their book shops are doing brisk business all through the year.

Spiritual gurus…

Books on spiritual gurus like Swami Vivekananda, Osho, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, J Krishnamurthi are not the only ones selling, there are a host of new age gurus as well. So, how are the teachings different? To this, Gulshan replied, “This is like asking a pious Indian, “If you have had a dip in the Kaveri, why do you wish to go to the Ganga, the Bhagirathi or the Alaknanda?” To tell you the truth, all these are names given to the Ganga as she flows down to the plains from Gangotri. Yet you will find pilgrims disembarking at Rudra Prayag, Karna Prayag and Deva Prayag, to take their sacred dip at each of these rivers! Lord Sri Krishna tells us in the Bhagavad Gita, “On whatever path men approach me, on that I go to meet them. For all the paths are mine, verily mine.”

Each guru tells what he lived. One can authentically tell about that approach, which he has taken for himself. So a seeker has to find a common platform or connection to follow someone’s teachings. If a seeker finds his/her answers in a particular guru’s approach, then he/she should follow that and implement those teaching in his life with full dedication. As Ved Chawla puts it, “They all say same thing but differently, I feel that they all have their followers, who believe in them and will always read their books to imbibe teachings in life. They are publishing books for spreading more awareness about their cult.”

And Bikash shares that their content and approach depend on the subject. “For example, in case of Swami Vivekananda the emphasis is on Karma Yoga, in case of OSHO it would be on meditation, hence the difference,” he added.

While RP Jain, shared, “You must try to understand that we Indians for the most part have a peculiar mind set; we ape the west or all that comes from outside because of our mental slavery of being influenced by what is outsourced regardless of whether Yoga & Spirituality is our own knowledge, but we feel happy because it gets western approval fully certified. New age spirituality flourished in the west several years or ages ago, but India catches it late when new age spirituality becomes somewhat obsolete! The New Age Gurus you mention in your above question are evergreen and ageless because they have international acceptability. These gurus are different in content and approach because they catch the pulse of modern times increasing their accessibility to public much more.”

Target audience…

Now the target audience of these books has expanded – not confined to just older generation; even young people in their 20s and 30s are big time buyers of these books. “All categories of readers buy such books; from general readers to scholars to colleges and to university departments around the globe!” told RP Jain.

“We offer religious story books for kids and they are loved by both kids and their parents as well. Young kids of age group 5-15 are our buyers, and interestingly parents also buy our books to upgrade their knowledge. In terms of bestsellers, our story books on Hanuman and females Goddess are always in demand,” told Ved Chawla.

Telling more about the popularity of such books with youngsters, Gulshan shared, “We are very fortunate that Rev. Dada JP Vaswani has always enjoyed excellent rapport with the youth wherever he goes! His interactive Q&A sessions with them are a runaway success. And this is the reason why his books are also popular among the youth. We have had several titles devoted exclusively to youth, such as Shake Hands with Life, You can Change your Life!, India Awake! and Stop Complaining, Start Living! The reasons are not far to seek: Dada never preaches; he is never judgmental or critical; he is down-to-earth and practical; and he has a wonderful sense of humour which the young people can’t resist. Above all, Dada communicates in the language of the heart, whether he is writing in Sindhi or English. So his books have always been well received by young readers everywhere. Dada is a great believer in the power of the youth, the yuvashakti; and he connects with youth effortlessly! If you want me to put it in one word, the magic is love.”

While, Prassana of Sri Sri Publication Trust added, “Guru Ji’s every word is being transcribed and stored in a form of book and we have produced so many books till now. The best thing is, Guru Ji has majority of followers in age group 30-45 years.”

And publishers are not leaving any stone unturned to cater to these set of readers. Hence, they use all marketing strategies like promotion through internet, online mailing, printed catalogues, brochures, events like seminars, conferences and book-fairs, etc.

On ebooks vs. printed books…

RP Jain, opined, “There is slow, but steady future of printed books in the area of our specialisation, scholarly and academic publications though on a limited scale with low demand. But as the time cycle revolves around the universe, quite possibly this might change and we may see revival of printed books in big numbers. This is chiefly because the authenticity of research done in printed books is far more significant/vital than the material available on the internet which in most cases is not quite research oriented.”

While, Bikash added, “Yes there will be a market for religious and spiritual books in e-format, but I feel it will take a long time to be popular in our country.” And Dev Om explained further, “I feel nothing can replace the printed book. The feel of the paper and the way we traditionally study at schools is deep rooted in our subconscious.”

Market…Growth…Sales

There is no doubt about the fact that this segment is really growing at steady pace. All the publishers and book sellers have witnessed a substantial growth in books of this particular category. On asking about the same, RP Jain, shared, “We are growing steadily in this segment. We have around 300 titles and we generally add 25-30 titles every year. And we are getting good response for our books from all over the world. The demand for our books is mostly from the English speaking countries.”

As per Ved Chawla, “We never see profitability in this segment. We do this as a service to God. But it doesn’t mean that we are not growing in this segment. In fact, I believe we are unique as we bring these books in a beautiful way for kids. We have around 100 titles in this segment and we are adding 10-15 titles every year. The research work that we are doing for bringing out any book is really high. We want to make it good read not only for kids but for grown-ups as well. We are promoting our books all over the world by participating in many book fairs, so we have buyers world over.”

While Gulshan shared, “We are growing really fast, but are not seeing this growth as business for us, it’s a spiritual need for the followers of our Mentor. Any corner of the world, where Dada JP Vaswani is followed…his books market is there. For every title we sell in India, we also sell the same title abroad, and we see equal interest of all titles and topics in both parts of the world.”

And Dev also added, “We are experiencing more than 100 percent growth in printed books and more than 200 percent growth in e-book segment for our publications on year to year basis. The total ratio is 50-50 but if you want to segregate them then printed books 75 percent India, 25 percent overseas and e-books 85 percent overseas and 15 percent India according to our data.”

Whereas, Prassana added, “We are growing at a steady pace of 25-30 percent every year. And we normally add around five books every year.”

“We sell books on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Vedanta Literature, Scriptures such as Upanishads, Gita, etc. and other books on spiritual life, religion, yoga, meditation, concentration, will-power, mind control, stress relief, value education, personality development, etc. We also sell books, booklets, etc. especially meant for children. The books published by all publishing houses of our Matth and Mission centres are sold through our book sales showroom,” shared Swami Ji, Ramakrishna Mission, Delhi.

On languages and authors!

Most of the titles produced by publishers are always in more than two languages and after getting good response, are published in more languages as well. “We are specialised in ancient languages like Pali, Sanskrit, etc. But the main languages are English, Hindi and Sanskrit. And most of the authors we have are established writers, who just want to get their books published under our banner,” informed RP Jain.

The Happy Foundation has titles in languages such as English, Hindi, Greek and Russian. And they have two in-house authors like Dev OM (the founder and spiritual guide) and Meni Prem Shunyam (meditation and life therapist who writes on natural and emotional healing)

“We have published 55 titles in English and Hindi. And we publish the writings of only two authors, our founder - Sadhu Vaswani and our current spiritual head, Dada JP Vaswani”, informed Gulshan.

“We publish our books in 14 Indian languages and 15 foreign languages across the world. We have around 200 book shops all over India and abroad,” told Prassana, trustee of Sri Sri Publications Trust.

“Our books are in demand world over, so we publish mainly in English and Hindi, though we also have books in regional languages like Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, etc,” Swami Ji added.

On a concluding note…

“Any book when read with a good intention always helps in getting success and these books do help in holistic development of individual,” concluded Ved.


Gita Press: epitome of religious books!

When we talk about religious books, we cannot miss to mention Gita Press. Founded in 1923 by divine inspiration to propagate the Bhagwat Gita, institution's main objective is to promote and spread the principles of Sanatana Dharma, the Hindu religion among the general public by publishing the Bhagwat Gita, the Ramayana, the Upanishads, the Puranas and discourses of eminent saints and other character-building books and magazines and marketing them at highly subsidised prices. We can find many shops selling these books in every corner of India. One such book shop owner, Naresh Kumar, feels that it is really satisfactory to help people in getting these books.

On asking about the importance of these books and business returns, he told, “Gita Press books need no advertising…they are epitome of such publishing and I find it really good to run this shop for almost 10 years now. And yes, I am making good profits as well.”



newcomic.info footfetishbb.com