The digital revolution has brought a number of changes in the world of publishing. It has not only revolutionised the publishing process, but has also brought new models of book distribution and new platforms to read and interact with the book. In addition, digital has enabled the creative industries, publishing services, technological innovations and the internet revolution, to become an integral part of the publishing process today. Further, existence of numerous publishing apps clearly indicates that publishing is increasingly moving towards a mobile platform. These new developments have brought to the fore new challenges of innovation, strategy and adaptability.

The major challenge that a publisher faces today is how to make a book accessible across multiple platforms and to be able to access new revenue streams. Content strategy and information architecture management are the new buzzwords through which the publisher grapples with. In this backdrop, PubliCon 2014- Publishing Across Platforms, organised by FICCI on December 3, 2014 at FICCI, Federation House, Tansen Marg, New Delhi, will look into these new areas of publishing and will try to find solutions to some of these new challenges.

–says Namita Gokhale, author, publisher and buying viagra online recommended site director Jaipur Lit Fest A multifaceted personality, Namita Gokhale has been associated with Indian Publishing for around four decades. She is one of the stalwarts, who are working hard to make Indian regional literature accessible to everyone. Smita Dwivedi discovers her unwavering urge to follow cross-currents…everlasting affair with books and multitasking…of course in the field of literature. Up till now Namita has written six novels, a collection of short stories, and several works of nonfiction, all in English. Her first novel - Paro: Dreams of Passion, 1984, a satire on the Mumbai and Delhi elite caused uproar due to its candid sexual humour. Gods Graves and Grandmother - an ironic fable about street life in Delhi was adapted into a musical play. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was just thirty-five and her husband died a few years later. The experience of illness and loss can be seen in her later books, A Himalayan Love Story, The Book of Shadows and Shakuntala, the Play of Memory. Namita is also a passionate publisher and one of the founding members of the Jaipur Literature Festival. Donning many hats, she has proved that passion for books and literature has infinite potential. “Unless I am multitasking, am incomplete…just like a jigsaw puzzle, which is in the process of assembled. So, rushing about in different directions has become a part of my personality. I do believe that as we grow older, we wind down a little; but I wish I could do fewer things with more attention rather than more things with less attention,” she concluded.

Book Affaire

Namita GokhaleOn asking about the inception of this everlasting affair with books and literature, she added, “I always had a love for literature and books; in my school days, it was equally divided into love for books and arts and I wanted to be a painter. But life has its own momentum and I became a literature student and sadly that aptitude for art totally withered. Despite being a topper, I was held back in my third year in graduation and that was a turning point in my life. This led to the inception of a film magazine called SUPER, which successfully ran for eight years. And from here, I learnt to appreciate the power of popular culture and learnt a lot about publishing. That had really characterised most of the things that I did after that.”

Art of Literature!

Publishing is Gokhale’s other love. The Namita Gokhale Editions, a signature imprint published in association with Roli Books, introduced some notable titles including Rashna Imhasly Gandhy’s The Psychology of Love and Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s Biography of her Father, RK Dalmia. She has conducted two memorable writers’ retreats in Landour, with Roli Books, for the Namita Gokhale editions. She is passionately committed to showcasing and translating the best of Indian writing and engaging the vibrant Bhasha languages of the Indian sub-continent in a creative dialogue with each other and the rest of the world. She is one of the founder directors of Yatra Books which co-publishes with Penguin Books in Hindi, Marathi, Urdu and other Indian languages including English in a ground breaking series.

Further explaining about her achievements, she added, “I believe in deep roots in all that I do…Like studying the subject with depth, at the same time believe that unless it is accessible to the popular imagination, it loses a very important dimension. I prefer whimsical, marginalised voices and make them accessible to people who may not normally have appreciated it. My interdisciplinary work is reflected in my publishing work.”


On asking about genesis of JLF, which began in 2006, she shared, “It was a self born phenomenon… in beginning we had small audience of 40 people. We invited 18 people to speak, out of which two dropped out. So, we had to get emergency replacements. Even then, it was a brilliant and beautiful festival…but that particular intimacy has been lost over the years. The greatest thing about JLF is the quality of audience. From Nobel laureates to local language writers, Man Booker prize winners to debut novelists, every January the most remarkable, witty, sensitive and brilliant collection of authors come together for five days of readings, debates and discussions at the beautiful Diggi Palace in Jaipur.”

“As clouds of buzzing creative energy gather around Jaipur, readers from around the world arrive for this annual pilgrimage, to attempt to make sense of our multiple and changing worlds through the prism of literature. The Jaipur Yatra will continue to celebrate books and ideas, readers and writers, in an open, joyous and spontaneous space, and to uphold the spirit of democratic debate and dialogue,” she further added.

On a concluding note!

According to Namita, curiosity is one of the greatest qualities in human being and reading a good well written book is a way to enter another reality and expand one’s horizon. “Today, we are exposed to so many types of narratives, be it films, TV or internet; still book is unique in its own way. Reader has to work hard to understand a good book, not just author,” she said.

Further asking about her views on changes in publishing world, “As we grow older all changes look negative, it’s a state of mind, I would rather look at the positive changes. The greatest thing that has happened is the democratisation of publishing. Technology has made publishing available to anybody who has a voice and can share it. I think self publishing is of great importance and at the same time the curator model has its own strengths. And they are not at all contradictory to each other. It’s like cinema and TV…they both are complementing each other. Also, there are consistently good writings in Indian literature. I wish I could contribute to translate across all Indian and international languages,” concluded Namita.

- Exclusive distributorship of titles from Koros Press and Auris Reference, London.
- More than 1,100 titles in higher-education segment.

New Delhi-based Delhi Book Store (DBS) has taken exclusive distributorship of well-known overseas publishers – Auris Reference (more than 200 titles) and Koros Press (more than 400 titles). These books are meant for higher education, targeting academicians, researchers, scholars, professors and libraries.

Koros Press Limited (KPL), headquartered in London, United Kingdom, is one of the most prolific and fast-growing book publishers in the world. With an extensive range of specialised reference titles – from Handbooks to Encyclopaedias, KPL strives to serve the world's research and scholarly communities and aims to be one of the largest publishers for professional and scholarly societies.

DBS will distribute Koros titles in the following subjects – Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, Art and Architecture, Animal Science and Veterinary, Biological Science and Genetics, Chemical Engineering and Oil, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Civil Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology, Earth and Environmental Science, Economics and Business, Education, Encyclopaedia and Reference, Food Science, Plant Science, Religions, Language, Literature and Linguistics, Law, Library Science, Management, Nanotechnology, and Sociology and Social Science.

Auris Reference Limited, a sister concern of Koros Press Limited – UK, is an international repute publisher with an orientation towards Applied Science, Core Engineering and Technical subjects. With more than 300 highly appreciated reference titles already available and many more specializing in research, reference and upper-level titles in the pipeline in highly focused areas, Auris Reference Limited is a name to beckon with. The subjects dealt by DBS will include Biological Science and Genetics, Chemical Engineering and Oil, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Civil Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology, Earth and Environmental Science, Electrical Engineering, Material Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and Physics.

DBS already has exclusive distributorship of Springer. Although they have over 5,000 titles of Springer, they distribute more than 500 titles on various subjects such as Civil Engineering, Agriculture, Medical, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics, Nanotechnology, Instrumentation, Automation, Environmental Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology, Geotechnical Engineering, Aviation & Aeronautics and Chemical Engineering.

With this, DBS has an extensive base of 1,100 titles in the higher-education segment and the list is growing continuously. Housed in a multi-storey facility in centrally located Darya Ganj in New Delhi, DBS offers a unique relaxed atmosphere, where visitors can easily browse through the books.

–Do you have a BOOK in you? In recent times, we have seen many corporate honchos churning out bestsellers…be it fiction or thriller, they do it flawlessly. In a day time, they are dressed sharply and are busy with boardroom meetings and discussions for almost 12-16 hours a day. While back home they are ready to don author’s hat…and ready to chase their dreams.

Ashwin Sanghi (left) and Vikas Rathi (Right)The list of such authors/writers is long. Smita Dwivedi (SD), in conversation with Ashwin Sanghi (AS) and Vikas Rathi (VR), makes an attempt to understand what makes them different in their own professional league.
The most popular Indian name to this list would be Chetan Bhagat, who was having a flying banking career in Singapore. The other leading names include Amish Tripathi, national head, marketing and product management at IDBI Federal Life Insurance; Ashwin Sanghi, an entrepreneur with interests in automobiles and real estate; Ravi Subramanian, president and CEO, Shriram Finance (Non Chit); Vikas Rathi, finance manager for the Asia Pacific Region with Procter & Gamble Healthcare and many more.

Their novelistic concerns are diverse ranging from romance, thriller, mythical Puranas, Indus Valley civilization, corporate politics and tales of real world. Similarly, they all have diverse ways of stealing time to write way to their dreams. Some write in cars…some in coffee shops…late nights…early morning…but they write. Here, Ashwin Sanghi and Vikas Rathi share their professional corporate-cum-author’s life.

SD: Share a brief about yourself?

AS: As you know, I am not a writer by profession. I was born and brought up in a business environment. I started working at 16 and completed my MBA when I was 22. By the time I completed writing my debut novel, The Rozabal Line, in 2006, I had already been in business for over 20 years! Now at the age of 45, I have been managing a parallel writing career for over a decade.

VR: I am a Chartered Accountant and an MBA from IIM Bangalore. I specialise in finance & strategy. I worked for 11 years at Procter & Gamble across various locations in Asia and presently I head the business planning & analysis for Novartis Consumer Health for their international operations.

SD: When did you realize that there’s an author trapped inside, who just want to break free? Was it an instant realization or it was a long yearning?

AS: My parents used to regularly take us for holidays to Kashmir during the seventies. During these visits, we would do all the touristy stuff—including visiting Rozabal. As a child, however, I did not fully understand the significance of the tomb. It was only in 1999 that the notion that Jesus may have left behind a bloodline came to my attention when I read Holy Blood Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. A couple of years later, I read Holger Kersten and was fascinated with the idea that Jesus could have been inspired by Buddhism and that he may have drawn much of his spiritual learning from India. I began to wonder whether I could marry the two theories i.e. that he survived the crucifixion and traveled to India and that he left behind a bloodline. That question was the spark that inspired me to write my first book.

VR: It had been a yearning for a while. The only thing holding me back was taking the time to tell a compelling story. Writing a novel is indeed a long-term project and requires discipline and commitment. One can easily take years to write one book and then the publishing process can take many months. Resident Dormitus, my first novel, took five years from the first time I started writing to when it was eventually published.

SD: Being a busy professional, how do you manage your writing schedule?

AS: I write early mornings on weekdays and then put in a regular eight-hour day at the office. I use my Saturdays to gain writing momentum and leave Sundays entirely for family time. During the year I take four weeks off to write so that I may complete whatever happens to be my current project. Work keeps Lakshmi smiling and my writing keeps Saraswati in good humour… what more could I possibly ask for?

VR: I write mostly over the weekends and sometimes in the evenings. I make it one of my top priorities and accordingly make time for it. Sometimes, it is difficult especially due to travel but I have cultivated an ability to write in any environment e.g. in the flight, at airport lounges, and of course at home/cafes.

SD: Did you ever experience writer's block?

AS: There is no ailment that a peg of whiskey cannot cure, just remember that! I never fight writer’s block. Instead I use the time to read more, refine my research notes, tweak my plot outlines etc. By the time that I am done, the block has miraculously vanished.

VR: Visualization is the key technique I use while writing a story. I start to play the situation in my mind, imagine myself to be one of the characters and see where it goes. A little bit of day-dreaming also helps. But it does leave you emotionally drained. To keep doing it over a long period is the most challenging part for me.

SD: Successful entrepreneurs make bestseller authors. What’s your opinion on this?

AS: I have always worried that I would be boxed in… compartmentalised. I get bored rather easily and I need to keep finding ways to reinvent myself. Writing was a chance for me to do something different. I imagine that boredom might very well be a reason for others too!

VR: I think different people have different reasons and it is not in my place to generalise. In my specific case, I like writing and have graduated from simply blogging to writing novels. It is an alternate outlet for my creativity and an enjoyable process.

SD: Just as your books inspire authors, what books/authors have inspired you to write?

AS: It’s difficult to say because I grew up reading both classics as well as potboilers. My spiritual sense is influenced by Paramahansa Yogananda, my love for fast pace and racy plots is influenced by Dan Brown and Frederick Forsythe, my fascination with historical retelling is inspired by Dominique Lapierre, my passion for research is fuelled by Arthur Hailey and my Indianness of voice is influenced by Salman Rushdie.

Infact, I was brought up on a diet of commercial fiction and thrillers for most of my growing years: Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Irving Wallace, Jack Higgins, Tom Clancy, Ayn Rand, Ken Follett, Arthur Hailey. In the past decade, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Stieg Larsson, Ian Rankin and countless others were added to my list of favourites. I prefer thrillers to any other genre and that is precisely the reason why my books are always fast paced.

VR: As a reader, I oscillate between heavy philosophical literature (such as by Dostoevsky, Albert Camus, etc.) to obscure humour (such as Hitch Hikers guide to the galaxy, Catch-22, Dilbert and Calvin & Hobbes) to thrillers (Andrew Burdett is a recent favorite) to science fiction (Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley). Dostoevsky, Camus and Upamanyu Chatterjee have influenced me the most.

SD: Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

AS: Sure. These days it is one in which I’m sitting at my desk for days but am unable to write a single word. I have always believed that I am simply the medium. I am the water pipe, the transmission cable… the words come through me not from me. I dread a day when my inspiration dries up.

VR: Dream, yes. But I hardly ever remember them when I wake up. My wife complains that I repeatedly engage in ridding the bed of imagined worms but I have difficulty in recalling it in my wakeful stage.

SD: What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

AS: Commercial fiction writing in India did not take off primarily because of our snobbish attitude towards commercial writing. Most Indian authors were busy churning out literary fiction and publishers continued actively searching for the next Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, or Jhumpa Lahiri. They could hardly be bothered with finding the Indian equivalent of Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Jack Higgins, or Tom Clancy! Satyajit Ray would not have given us Feluda if an Indian market for mysteries, suspense, adventure and thrillers did not exist. It’s sad that we allowed ourselves to cede space to foreign authors in these genres. I think that authors like me changed things for other aspiring commercial fiction writers.

VR: The idea first popped in my mind when a batch-mate committed suicide within six months of her first job. Subsequently, I heard another story through alumni network about a junior committing suicide within the first term at IIMB presumably because he could not cope with the pressure/ expectations. Later, I heard stories about educated youth being enrolled in terrorism. This prompted me to think what could cause people to take such extreme steps. A little bit of soul searching led me to realise that almost all of us go through an existential crisis when we step out of university into the real world. Most are able to tackle such crisis through finding meaning via trial and error or through guidance. For some, however, such crisis can be so big that they turn suicidal or violent. That theme stayed with me for a long time till I penned it down into a novel.

I tried to imagine a situation as to what will happen if a person (who goes through life with disdain, almost as if doing a grand favor to the universe but who happens to be lucky enough to still excel) meets another equally talented but downright unlucky person. That was the broad plot I started with, vague as it was. Since, I am intrigued by dark literature such as self-destruction, sacrifice, unconsummated love as well as irreverent humor stemming from daily ordinary affairs, those themes found their way in the novel. I am proud of Resident Dormitus but I think my second novel, work in progress, will be better.

SD: Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now…A successful corporate honcho or a fulltime author?

AS: Who knows. All I can hope is that it is a happy place. I am happiest when writing so I assume that it will have something to do with the pen!

VR: Writing, for me, is neither a hobby nor a full-blooded career option. It is my passion. I immensely enjoy the process of writing. Even if there were no publishers, I would have still written for myself. Ideally, I would like to preserve that feeling and so am not looking to make writing a career option.

–says Brahmanathaswami, Kauai's Hindu Monastery,
Himalayan Academy Publications, in conversation with Varsha Verma.

Kauai's Hindu Monastery is located on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Here, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and 20 monks carry on the tradition and mission of an ancient Hindu lineage. The center in Hawaii is the international head-quarters for those who are closely associated with this spiritual lineage. Here, Brahmanathaswami, Kauai's Hindu Monastery, Himalayan Academy Publications, Kapaa, HI shares more on religious books and their impact on readers.

ABP: Why are books on the philosophies and meditation techniques of spiritual gurus, general religion, self-help guides and Indian mythology fetching brisk business these days?

Brahmanathaswami: Once the glamour of wealth, money and the things that money can buy wears off, at the end of the day the innate drive of the soul, the Atman is there regardless of a person's circumstances. That drive is ever onward through the cycles of reincarnation to find and become one with Shiva, Para Brahmin. Whether you know this consciously or not, whatever terms or labels you may give, the path of San Marga, the straight path to God is something every soul tries to find, sooner or later.

In a newly emerging middle class India where Hindu philosophy is the underlying though process of a nation, where the fascination with technology and money is wearing off, then it is a short step onto the spiritual path/search. As a youth you may be very ambitious, but after one or two years in the technology sector, you may find it doesn't bring the happiness you thought it would. Sure, you may have cash in your pocket now, but money doesn't bring peace.

In other areas of the world where youth have not been exposed to affluence, the focus may be more on career. So the market is really not that big except in some sectors. For Himalayan Academy Publications, we don't see a huge growth, but a steady sales year after year that reflects the niche market we serve that is pretty much always there in each new generation of readers.

ABP: How are new age gurus different from older ones?

Brahmanathaswami: There is one class of "new age gurus" who peddle themselves as "God Men" where they make a particular personality the center of focus for those who become "followers." They try to be universalists and "transcend religion" but they are just re-packaging the ancient teachings of Hindu sages and scriptures in a new language.

Then there are books by the more traditional Gurus who put the perennial teachings into new packages so to speak, but do not promote themselves personally. Our own books are of this genre: we teach traditional Saivite Hinduism and Hindu Basics.

ABP: Tell us more about your publishing house?

Brahmanathaswami: Our work is solidly rooted in the Vedic tradition and Saiva Agamas as preserved by the Kailasa Paramapara. Himalayan Academy Publications bring the classic wisdom of Hinduism to the 21st century in modern English. The presentations are done in ways that make the ancient teachings of the Vedas and Agamas digestible. We do not present any new age philosophy as such. So for those who revere India's spiritual heritage, want to preserve the culture, and yet find ways to understand and integrate this in your life today, our publications have a big appeal. Some of our bestsellers include Loving Ganesha, Dancing with Siva, Living with Siva, Merging with Siva. Lemurian Scrolls is also a popular book... but of a different genre.

Our authors include Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (now deceased) and Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami (current Mathadeepati of our lineage).

ABP: In general who are the target audience?

Brahmanathaswami: Hindus who have left India, whose first language is now English, are the main buyers of these books. Western yoga practitioners who have finally woken up to the fact that yoga is, and always has been, a Hindu practice leading to God Realization and part of a larger religious and philosophical context. Sage Patanjali, for example, would go to the temple every day... So when these yoga practioners start to yearn for a more complete religious cultural life, family and community, our books provide a gate way for them to learn about and finally fully become Hindus.

ABP: How important is production quality for such books?

Brahmanathaswami: Production values are very important for Himalayan Academy Publications. Our books are top notch in quality. That said, "pulp paper" may also work for the publisher who has good avenues to markets where low prices are important. I don't think it is an "either or" equation.

ABP: Are they gaining popularity amongst youngsters?

Brahmanathaswami: Not really at this time. While we offer free ebooks, youngsters are looking for a more novel form of presentation, video, audio, apps. We hope to start developing these as time goes on.

ABP: In today’s e-world, do you envisage a successful future for printed books? Why/Why not?

Brahmanathaswami: There will always be a place for printed books because not everyone, today, or tomorrow, wants to sit in front of a screen or read things on a little device. The success of the publisher who depends on print media will depend on his ability to manage capital investment for printing books, marketing and keeping cash equity locked up in unsold inventory as against the revenue stream for selling books to those who still want a physical printed volume. If you measure success by modern standards of continuing growth and volume then probably this kind of success is not an option. If you measure success by the ability to stay in business, then that is certainly possible, provided you have the capacity for continued production of a diversity of new titles while having the fiscal management skills to stay in the black.