Publishing

says Narendra Kumar, chairman and MD – Har-Anand Publications, in conversation with GS Jolly, deputy editor, All About Book Publishing (ABP).

Chairman and managing director of Har-Ananad Publications – Narendra Kumar (NK) is considered the leading light of Indian publishing. He has been doyen of Indian publishing industry for many decades and has been hailed by Washington Post as “A legend in his life time.” He has written extensively on Indian publishing and lectured both in India and abroad to promote its cause on global scale. He has been a member of various UNESCO and WIPO groups. He has held various important posts like the president, Federation of Indian Publishers; chairman, CAPEXIL; Trustee, National Book Trust, and member, National Book Development Council. He has been the youngest publisher to have been included into the Indian publishing Hall of Fame. He has won many national and international awards including “Order of the State of the Italian Solidarity” conferred by the president of the Republic of Italy.

Acknowledged among India’s most distinguished educationists, he has been responsible for creating an education system responsive to the changing social needs at national and international level. He has been chairman of DPS Educational Society for almost a decade. Here, he shares his views on the Indian publishing and its various aspects with GS Jolly (GSJ), deputy editor, ABP. Excerpts.

GSJ: India has a pulsating book publishing industry with literacy rate touching 74.04 percent in 2011 census and eukarya.ro the industry bringing out around 80,000 new titles every year, is it too much or too little ?

NK: Indian publishing industry has enormous potential and it has still a long way to go. You have to bear in mind that we have around 300 million children going to schools and still many millions who need school education. This clearly indicates that Indian publishing industry, along with US, could become the largest book publishing hub. Like British publishing in the 19th century, Indian publishing can meet the educational needs of the countries of Asia and Africa now. India publishes books in more languages than any other country of the world.

GSJ: On the piracy front, India herself is a victim. What measures do you suggest to contain it?

NK: The menace of piracy can be confronted on two fronts- moral and legal. People should be ethical in dealing with intellectual property and stern measures should be in place for the violators.

GSJ: With the changing scenario in the creation and distribution of knowledge due to rapid growth in information and eukarya.ro communication technologies, what role the book is expected to play in dissemination of knowledge in the days to come?

NK: The book remains the single largest disseminator of knowledge. No matter how much you believe in the information technology, there is no greater joy than to have a book as man’s companion. As a person who has spent a quarter of a century in education and connected with the largest chain of schools can say that the modern technology has a role to play but only as an additional factor, not as primary tool of education.

GSJ: It is generally said that an Indian is a stranger in its own country because of multiplicity of languages. Does it have an effect in the overall growth of Indian publishing Industry?

NK: Multiplicity of languages is an important factor in making Indian society plural and inclusive. It could have been a major factor in the further growth of Indian publishing industry, if the government had played a greater role in promoting same book in various languages. There should be an organisation which could on a regular basis fund the translation of books and their promotion instead government spending millions of rupees in publishing books. National Book Trust was set up to perform two functions - promoting reading habit in the country and promoting Indian books abroad.

GSJ: Publishers may say that every manuscript which reaches their office is faithfully read but that may not be always true, but there is an accusation that publishers reject manuscript without reading. What do you have to say about it?

NK: The idea that publishers return manuscripts unread and not interested in the works of beginners is a delusion which will never be eradicated from some minds because supply of manuscripts is the life blood of the business. A publisher on the other hand cannot afford to spend time on reading a manuscript beyond the point at which he gets convinced that it has no chance of acceptance; no purpose would be served by such pointless reading. It will only delay conveying the decision to the author. How much a manuscript is read could vary from a few pages, through a few chapters, to a whole book. But the point that publishers as a class are not interested in the works of new authors is not to be accepted without reservation, it has to be said that nowadays there is no lack of material submitted for publication. Unsolicited manuscripts pour in all the times even though a few pompous publishers actually refuse to accept work that has not been invited or commissioned. But if everybody adopted this prissy attitude, there would have been no Gone with the Wind – the classic example of a bestseller that literally came to its publisher through the post.

GSJ: Authors normally complain that publishers do not pay attention towards promotion of their books. How far they are justified?

NK: Authors tend to forget that promotion costs a lot of money. Most authors think that their books have not been adequately advertised or promoted. It is very unfair remark. Who else would be interested in promoting the book than the publisher? It is a matter of maintaining a balance between expenditure and returns.

Advertising does help to promote a title. But you cannot sell a book by advertising alone. There is a clash of interests and use only mutual sympathy and forbearance can steer the book to a much greater height than an atmosphere about the publisher’s intent. Who can deny the role played by publishers in making a book popular?

GSJ: Distribution is generally called the weakest link in publishing chain. Please enlighten.

NK: Distribution depends directly on the demand of a book. Books are sold on sale or return basis. One should keep in mind the fact that each book sent to a bookseller or returned by the bookseller costs money and that adds to the publishing cost. You would appreciate that publishing is a financially weak industry with hardly any public equity in it. Even when a possible market is in sight, and the actual sale is doubtful and promotion costs add to the total publishing costs, a publisher will try to reach the market which is certain than trying in an uncertain arena.

GSJ: What makes a bestseller - the reputation of the author, incredible writing, quality of production or aggressive marketing. If the last alternative has anything to do with it, tell us about some bestsellers created by you.

NK: Bestsellers cannot be created, they just happen. But still many factors play important role like reputation of the publishing house; author’s cooperation in promotion of the book; subject of critical interest at that point of time; and the ability of the publisher to judge its potential. Among the enumerable books that I published, the books that particularly stand out are - Rape of Bangladesh by Anthony Macarenhas and Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins and Z A Bhutto- If I Am Assassinated.

GSJ: As the book is changing form, how do you visualize the future of reading?

NK: I am a great believer in the future of book as it is the medium of education, entertainment and knowledge. There is nothing like holding a book and being able to turn the pages that no other device can substitute. I don’t see any danger to reading.

GSJ: It is believed that an impressive display of editorial skills, while not fool proof, is probably the best guarantor of successful author - editor relationship. What is your take on this?

NK: Of course, there is no doubt that a competent editor plays a critical role in strengthening the relationship with the author. However, editor has to remember that eventually the book is that of the author and not his.

GSJ: Publishers by and large do not mention the print run in the contract. Any reason for that?

NK: I don’t understand why print run is an issue. The issue is the total number of books sold. However, authors are given the information whenever they ask for it. Contracts sometime cover not only just one printing of a specific quantity but also reprints and new editions during the legal term of copyright.

GSJ: Copyright these days is divisible into many rights as there are different kinds of buyers. With each passing year and its new technologies, new rights appear. Who do you think will do justice for full exploitation of these rights- Author or publisher?

NK: Publisher is the best guarantor of the interest of the author.

GSJ: Willful desertion by successful and favored authors is another vexation that all publishers experience from time to time. What is your take on this?

NK: There is no solution to the issue raised by you. It makes me sad. The relationship between author and publisher is sacred and meaningful. I wish we could go back to the traditional publishing where such things were not happening.

GSJ: How do you visualise the Indian publishing ten years from now?

NK: So long as student population continues to grow, Indian publishing will grow from strength to strength. It has a great future.

GSJ: With everybody going digital, how long the book made of paper will last?

NK: I am not a prophet of doom. I am a strong believer that book will remain till eternity.



- Relevance of military books in today's scenario

Defence writing is now acquiring a new genre. “Even the style of defence writing has undergone a change. Earlier it used to be a very formal, stereotyped which was targeted to a niche audience. Now we have different writers coming up from journalistic backgrounds, who write in a different easy-paced style which appeals to all,” tells Rajan Arya of Pentagon Press.

Status of books on defence in India...

“The books on defence in India have acquired greater popularity in the past decade or so. There are new authors who are coming up, there is a greater range of titles, and even the readership has enhanced considerably. Initially, most defence books were by foreign writers, or a handful of Indian ones and had a very restricted audience, largely amongst the defence and security community. Now defence books have acquired their own distinctive niche and got a new-found status. Many defence writers, such as GD Bakshi, Gurmeet Kanwal etc have gone on to become well-known figures based on their books,” tells Rajan. While Rohan Vij, director marketing, sales & business development adds, “Defence books are generally authored by research scholars and Armed Forces Officers from reputed Think Tanks and Universities. These books have limited readership and hence leading to restricted publications.”

Market size...

“Market size is restricted to Libraries run by Think Tanks, Institutes and Universities. There are very few individual buyers for such books since they all use it as reference material from affiliated institutes,” tells Rohan as a matter of fact.

But, defence writing has many different genres. “Military history is a field that is getting increased popularity (though we were the largest army of 26 lakh personnel who fought in Second World War but not much importance is given to the war though it shaped the world and even our Independence was indirectly the result of this war). In addition, defence and security analysis, especially threat analysis, has its own market after 9/11 and 26/11. It is worthy to note that there must be over 1000 titles on 9/11 but only 10 titles on 26/11. There are books on contemporary and futuristic warfare, encyclopaedias and compilations. There is even a new genre on military fiction emerging. Thus I will put that the market size is not that big,” ponders Rajan.

Vivek Garg of Manas Publications feels that the average number of copies sold for any such book remains as 1000 copies.

Importance of military books...

“Firstly, by encouraging these books by our own authors and through our own publishing houses, we encourage strategic thinking within the country. It is really unfortunate that we could not develop strategic culture in the country and there are literally very few Strategic Thinkers. We also present the Indian perspective to the world, and to a great deal contribute to the growth of strategic culture. Books on Indian Military history also create an awareness of our history and military culture which is essential for this generation. I think to some extent, these books, also shape the minds of policy makers, by providing inputs and different perspectives on defence and strategic issues,” shares Rajan.

While Rohan adds, “These books help in analysing various defence and foreign policies of the country and suggest measures to improve upon them. In the present scenario that exists in our sub-continent they are also helpful in forming counter terrorism / internal security policies for the country. Book on Military History also helps in educating the youth about the history of their country as well as lessons learnt during those battles.”

Adding further, Rajan says, “We can always learn from the past mistakes and make a significant contribution to raising public awareness about national security and defence issues. We can also encourage researchers to take on newer areas of research.”

Publication statistics...

“We publish a title a week which makes 52 titles a year; the print varies from few hundreds to few thousands. The prices of these titles varies from Rs 495 to 995,” shares Rajan.

Similarly, Vij Books also comes up with 40-50 new print titles and approx 30 eBooks per year. “The first print run is between 400-500 copies depending upon the subject. For certain lesser read subjects, we have resorted to Print On Demand. The price ranges from Rs 500 to 1000,” adds Rohan. While, Kalpana Shukla, managing director, Knowledge World, says that they publish around 50 titles in a year, for which the print runs is minimum 500 copies, though they also use POD sometimes. “The pricing for our books starts from Rs 600,” she adds.

Manas Publications publishes 20-25 books per year, with a print run of 500-1000 copies. “The price varies between Rs 500 and Rs 1000,” says Vivek.

Target audience...

Libraries, educational institutes and research scholars in this field are the audience for such books. “Politics, international relations, security studies, defence establishments, and think tanks are the main target audience,” shares Kalpana. “But, the target audience is no longer restricted to just the defence and security community, though they form a major share of our buyers. After the Kargil War, a new awareness has come about and many in India now follow defence issues closely,” tells Rajan.

Few bestsellers...

For Pentagon Press, Thought for Change: We can do it by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is obviously one of the, bestsellers. “It needs no introduction as the book is a masterpiece. It covers 10 futuristic technologies which can take India to greater heights,” shares Rajan. For Vij Books, the bestsellers include Inside ISI - The Story and Involvement of the ISI in Afghan Jihad, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, 26/11 and the Future of Al Qaeda. “The book has been authored by S K Datta, ex CBI director. The focus of this book was on ISI as an instrument of spreading jihad culture in Pakistan and elsewhere,” adds Rohan. Another bestseller is A Talent for War - The Military Biography of Lt Gen Sagat Singh. “The book has been authored Maj Gen (Retd) Randhir Sinh, the ADC of Lt Gen Sagat Singh. The book brings out the military leadership qualities of the General during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War,” tells Rohan.

For Manas Publications, The Writing on Wall: India Checkmates USA 2017 by General S Padmanabhan is the bestseller. “This book is set in 2017, showing a war between India and USA,” shares Vivek.

For Knowledge World, ICON – Marshall of the Indian Air Force, an authorised Biography by (Late) Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, is the bestseller. “The book captures the story of one man who has fought the Second World War, and led the Indian Air Force in the 1965 war with Pakistan to a successful victory for India. The book is a ‘must’ for all, especially the passing out cadets from various academies,” shares Kalpana. “Publishing for a specialised audience has personally been a learning experience, especially with meeting intellectual personalities,” she concludes.



The end of China’s one-child policy is expected to drive children’s book sales, says Jason Yuan.

On October 29, the Chinese government announced the end of its long-standing onechild policy. Every couple is now allowed to have two children. The one-child policy was put in effect more than 35 years ago, to control the fast-growing Chinese population. However, an aging population, shrinking workforce, and slowing economy led the government to reconsider its position.

The government announced a modification of the one-child policy in 2013, a change that allowed parents who were themselves both only children to have two children. But according to authorities, only about one million couples of the 11 million eligible applied to have a second child. Many parents blamed the complicated process and the associated red tape for the low response rate; now that it’s been simplified, birth rates are expected to increase dramatically.

Children’s books going strong

Experts anticipate that the number of new births per year will increase by between three million and eight million after the new policy takes effect, from its current annual level of 16 million. According to an often-cited figure, the average Chinese family spends $800–$3,000 per year on their children. Spending on children’s education is the second-largest financial outlay for parents, and it includes books—indicating a promising future for children’s books in the country.

Another encouraging sign for the future of children’s books is the large portion of young people who read. According to the 2015 Twelfth Annual Nationwide Reading Survey from the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication (CAPP), 89 percent of parents with children under eight years old read to their kids daily (23.6 minutes per day, on average); 59 percent of children under eight years old read books; 95 percent of children between the ages 9 and 13 read; and 88 percent of young adults between the ages 14 and 17 read. Retail revenue numbers reflect the high reading rate for children.

Dangdang, one of the largest online book retailers in China, sold 110 million copies of children’s books in 2014, worth around $2.3 billion CNY ($370 million). On November 11, 2014 (known as Singles Day, the Chinese version of Black Friday), Dangdang sold almost 56 million CNY ($9 million) worth of children’s books. Imported children’s books are also on the rise; according to Amazon, imported sales at amazon.cn increased dramatically in 2013, increasing 45 times over 2012.

Changes to meet rising interest

The size of China’s children’s book market has been growing, and with the new baby policy, sales of children’s books are expected to jump. To meet the higher demand, Chinese publishers are buying more rights for children’s books from around the world, and international collaborations are also becoming more common in China.

Chinese trade book fairs are also rising in importance. “Our fair has made a few changes to better adapt to the growing market and help our exhibitors to grow their business,” says Lin Liying, director of the Beijing International Book Fair. In 2015, BIBF set up a dedicated 1,56,000 sq ft Children’s Hall to help children’s publishers exhibit more effectively. The new changes were well received by the exhibitors. During the fair, more than 1,000 rights agreements were signed. Lin adds, “We also organised our first picture book exhibition, with over 10,000 titles in 13 languages. The new generation of parents is well educated. It is common for parents to buy and read imported books. The exhibition attracted over 40,000 visitors during our fair. We hope the exhibition will further promote the imported children’s book market in China. We are working on more events and strategies to ass ist both Chinese and international children’s publishers to prepare and thrive for the new baby boom.”

The article was sponsored and written by China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corp. For more information about BIBF, contact Jason Yuan at: yuanjiayang@ bibf.net.



shares Kapish Mehra, MD, Rupa Publications, in conversation with Smita Dwivedi.

Rupa Publications, one of the premier publishing houses of India, recently completed its 80 years of being in good books of bibliophile. The journey began eighty years ago, when an enterprising young man, D Mehra, managed to impress an English bookseller by his salesmanship and became his representative. Since then, there has been no looking back.

Today Rupa needs no introduction, and to start with, we asked how it feels to be in a business for so long and Kapish Mehra, MD, Rupa Publications, added, “It’s been a special journey so far, being in a business for such a long time. We are happy that we are still able to follow the dream of our founder to reach out to every reader without any strings attached. While we have come a long way, that enterprising spirit has remained a constant, and the company has creatively and strategically expanded the scope of publishing in India to emerge as India’s largest independent publishing house, registering robust year-on-year top line growth over the years, at a level unparalleled in the publishing industry.”

A house of bestsellers!

Rupa has a long list of celebrated authors, who all are more than happy to be part of this banner. It is no wonder it's the House of Bestsellers. On asking about the secret of such a wonderful author-publisher association, Kapish smiled and said that our authors would be better person to reply this, and with a pride of having long list of bestselling authors, he added, “Author-publishers association is always mutual. I think our belief in Indian authors has made us so special. We have ‘welcome to the family’ attitude and our mission is always to take our author/book to next level.”

The list of authors includes Natwar Singh, Bimal Jalan, APJ Abdul Kalam Ronnie Screwvala’s Wytze Keuning, Acharya Kripalani, LK Advani, JRD Tata, Maharani Gayatri Devi and Mark Tully to name a few. It continues to publish some of the country’s biggest writers most notably Chetan Bhagat, the No. 1 bestselling novelist in India. His latest novel, Half Girlfriend and his just released work of non-fiction, Making India Awesome have had the largest ever print run, where English language trade publishing in India is concerned. As Chetan says, “I am what I am because of Rupa Publications. They were the first people to have believed in me and, after more than a decade, remain my publisher. Together we have a mission to make India read, and we are still as enthusiastic about it as ever.”

Another notable bestselling author has been Varun Agarwal with his How I Braved Anu Aunty And Co-founded a Million Dollar Company. Other popular writers on Rupa’s list include Samrat Upadhyay, Nitasha Kaul (who was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize for her debut novel Residue), Siddhartha Gigoo (nominated for the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize), Gulzar, Ruskin Bond, Kavita Kané, Damodar Mauzo, Anuja Chandramouli and Madhuri Banerjee.

Branching out!

In 2012, the company launched Red Turtle, the premier children’s imprint which has brought out beautifully illustrated and designed books and in 2015, Rupa Publications celebrated India’s business and entrepreneurial spirit by launching its business imprint, Maven. Constantly pushing the boundaries of possibilities to leverage the best for its books and its authors, Rupa Publications has reddened the rules of publishing by understanding and seizing the opportunity of the middle of the pyramid of the 400 million inhabiting ‘middle’ India.

On asking about company’s future plans he added, “Rupa has been pioneering in its attempt to reach this untapped audience— by packaging good content with affordable pricing and extended distribution—and this is evident not only in its core frontlist but also in terms of sales of regional language rights. Our reputation has enhanced by launching initiatives at regular intervals like pitching paperbacks to live up to its motto of providing affordable books that is the reason we foray in cities like Bilaspur, Gorakhpur, Jodhpur, Jabalpur, Indore, Karnal, Patiala among others to tap the English knowing people, has paid dividends with sales growing rapidly.”

Rupa has done fairly well in overseas market as well. Now company aims to increase the footfall and go beyond mere presence overseas by targeting delivery of books within 24 hours. And, never sitting on its laurels, Rupa Publications is now focusing on how it can leverage the digital space, and is readying to exploit the opportunities arising from the digitisation of content made possible by the advances in hard technology over the last ten years.

On a concluding note!

Kapish expressed his delight at crossing the 80-year milestone, and said “Breaking new ground has been our constant focus, and we will continue to do so in the days, months and years to come so as to contribute to the growth of the industry and provide an enhanced reading experience for all.

I think the ultimate maxim across the 80 years of our existence –– successful existence –– has been the belief to serve the readers by providing them quality books at affordable prices. The last 10 years were driven by technology. The next 10 will be driven by content. Publishing remains just one spoke of the wheel.”



Says Mohan Ramaswamy, managing director, India, LexisNexis Legal & Professional, in conversation with Varsha Verma. LexisNexis India was recently in news for acquiring indigenous legal publishing house -Universal Law Publishing. Publ ishing industry in India is very fragmented, with national as well as regional players. Courts in India have a phenomenal number of pending cases. The Indian judiciary has got a major investment boost in the last five years and it is important to equip the judiciary with the right tools and resources. If we look at the numbers, Indian legal publishing would be a US$ 70-75 million industry, with a growth of 7-8 percent per annum, told Mohan Ramaswamy, managing director, India, LexisNexis Legal & Professional, a leading publisher and online solutions provider in the legal, tax, academic, and test-prep segments.

“We wish to promote the rule of law and expand our sphere and provide authentic and well-researched information to the legal fraternity. LexisNexis was purely a legal publishing house till a few years back, when we added tax and later academic titles to our list. This has been achieved through both organic as well as inorganic growth. While growing organically, we have built up our own strengths, we have also partnered or acquired existing players who were either looking at partnerships or were on the verge of exiting,” added Mohan.

LexisNexis has recently acqui red Univers a l Law Publishing, which has been publishing law books and bare acts for legal professionals, academics and students in the Indian market for five decades. Recognised for their relevance and speed to market, Universal Law Publishing titles are held in high regard by legal professionals across India. Over the years, Universal has published popular works by eminent authors like PM Bakshi, HM Seervai, KD Gaur, justice VR Krishna Iyer, justice PN Bhagwati, justice Michael Kirby, Soli J Sorabjee and Arun Jaitley to name a few.

Mohan added, “It i s a strategic acquisition as Universal Law Publishing perfectly complements our existing range of offerings in the legal market. Their presence in the bare act space expands our reach to a large set of legal practitioners. And soon, we expect to make Universal’s content available on our Indian online legal research solution – Lexis India – providing even more content to our customers.”

“LexisNexis India is one of the leading publishers and online solutions providers with many good authors and titles. This combination gives authors an opportunity to work with superior editorial and product development systems with higher quality benchmarks that provide greater value to customers. Under the aegis of LexisNexis editorial and supported by their strong marketing and sales teams, Universal Law Publishing titles will now be accessible in more markets,” he added.

Mohan RamaswamyOn asking about whether Universal Law Publishing would continue its brand, Mohan replied, “We will try our best to retain the brand as far as we can as it has its own brand identity. Nevertheless, it would become an imprint of LexisNexis and best practices we have adopted at LexisNexis would be practised here to service our customers better.”

Talking about the competition in the legal publishing segment, Mohan shared that there’s an opportunity for everybody and it is always healthy to have competition. “The USP lies in better and easier platform. LexisNexis has differentiated and created a niche for itself.

We have invested in people and right resources. In India, we had a team of just 30 professionals 7-8 years back, which has now increased to 250+ employees and we are expanding further. The recent acquisition of Universal Law Publishing has added 50 more employees to our team. Besides, we have good online tools and technologies and stateof- the-art platform. And we are making continuous investments in all spheres,” he added.

“LexisNexis is committed to India, and we will continue to make the right investments to help our customers become more effective, efficient, and productive in their professions,” concluded Mohan.



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