Publishing

With online dictionaries and thesauruses becoming popular, is the market for print versions slowing down? No, says Sunil Mohan, sales & marketing director, Academic & General Books, Oxford University Press (OUP), who further shares his views on this publishing genre. India is the third largest market in the world for English language publications. There is an unprecedented interest and activity to learn the English language which is fueling the growth of Dictionaries and Encyclopedias. The dictionaries market in India is growing at 15 percent.

Digital is getting a big push now globally. It may not be very large now for us in India where print is still the dominant format but almost all our Dictionaries and Thesauruses have now digital links whereby you get 12 months’ access (depending on the dictionary) to the premium dictionary and language reference site Oxford Dictionaries Pro, where you can search the world’s most trusted dictionaries. Encyclopedias are also available online from Oxford Digital Reference Shelf or through Oxford Reference Online offering flexible search and browse functionality and multi user access. Oxford has an array of digital offerings which aids searchability and www.icird.org discoverability.

But, that does not mean that digital has affected print sales. OUP dictionaries sell in metros and non-metros equally well. With our wide range, OUP has the largest reach of usage across India.

Crowd-sourcing since 19th century…

Oxford's world-renowned range of English Dictionaries is based on the largest language research programme in the world. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was compiled in the late 19th century using an early form of the crowd-sourcing idea. Volunteers quoted actual word usages on slips of paper, and then posted them to the editor, Professor James Murray. The OED is arguably history’s first massively crowd-sourced collation of English knowledge.

Dictionaries for all age groups & readers…

Our publishing encompasses different age groups, diverse requirements different ability levels, etc. We publish dictionaries and encyclopedias for 5-7 year olds to school-going children to adult learners. Subjects again are as varied as Aesthetics to Economic History to Music.

Apart from the English dictionaries at various levels, we have bilingual dictionaries for foreign and Indian languages, as also subject dictionaries. Our market leadership extends from English dictionaries to bilingual dictionaries to subject dictionaries. We have published bilingual dictionaries in over 40 languages including Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Odia, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, and Kannada, in India. These have made a qualitative difference in our bilingual dictionary market. Subject dictionaries are another area where we have a leadership position. All in all Oxford is one-stop solution for the requirements of our users with different needs.

In the specific context of India, dictionaries publishing began in the 1970s and the following decades saw the Press bring out different kinds of dictionaries ranging from a picture dictionary series to bilingual dictionaries. Plans are afoot to make available OUP India’s dictionaries available in electronic and online formats in the near future with a team of expert editors using specialized software to ensure quality and consistency. Ongoing projects include dictionaries in Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Urdu.

Bestsellers…

Sunil MohanAmong the English dictionaries, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary continues to be the market leader. Other best-sellers include the Oxford Mini Dictionary, Little Oxford Dictionary, Pocket Oxford Dictionary, Illustrated Primary English Dictionary, and Elementary Learner’s Dictionary. In the bilingual market too all our dictionaries are large sellers including English-English-Hindi, English-English-Odia, and English-English-Marathi.

Average print runs…

Dictionaries run into hundreds of thousands of copies for learner’s dictionaries. The Oxford English Mini Dictionary sells over a million copies. Prices again are made very affordable at the learner dictionary level of around Rs 120 or so to GBP 5000 for our 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary which is an unrivaled guide to the meaning, history and pronunciation of over a half a million words. The Oxford English Dictionary which is regarded as the ultimate authority on the English language is also available online now on a subscription model.

On exports…

OUP India’s territory is limited to our sub-continent. Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh are our big export markets. Oxford Dictionaries and Encyclopedias are a big draw in these markets and the brand is quite strong. India is a very strong publishing branch and our encyclopedias and dictionaries do get exported through our UK and US branches.

About OUP…

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. The story of OUP spans five centuries of printing and publishing. Beginning with the first presses set up in Oxford in the fifteenth century and the later establishment of a university printing house, it leads through the publication of bibles, scholarly works, and the Oxford English Dictionary, to a later expansion that created the largest university press in the world. Today, OUP has become familiar to millions through a diverse publishing programme. OUP in India has an equally illustrious history, established in 1912, it has grown to be the largest publisher in the country with its high quality diverse publishing touching and changing lives. Our publishing today covers school courses, higher education texts, academic and reference works, dictionaries. We also produce digital aids for teaching and learning.



Manipal Technologies Ltd was chosen as the first printer in Asia to undertake printing for JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy published by Hachette India – a testimony to the fact that they provide high security solutions to its clientele.

Manipal Technologies Ltd (MTL), part of The Manipal Group, is one of India’s largest technology and secure print solutions provider catering to the needs of various industry verticals such as BFSI, education, retail, publishing, government, logistics, etc.

Originally founded as Manipal Press in 1941; it was one of the few presses during the pre-independence era to be operated using power and therefore was aptly named ‘Manipal Power Press’. As decades passed and leadership changed, the press grew to see a wave of success, especially under the leadership of their MD, Gautam Pai, son of Satish Pai. With Gautam Pai’s flawless business acumen and guidance, today, the company has grown to become a market leader with a turnover of Rs 700 crores.

The publishing vertical has always been an important part of MTL’s business portfolio. As part of its print services, Manipal Technologies offers end to end solutions to its customers in the publishing segment by covering all aspects of the publishing cycle such as typesetting and composition services, pre-press and pre-media services, digital publishing solutions and content management solutions, etc. The company also offers extended services such as warehousing, logistics and distribution. Manipal Technologies has worked with some of the biggest publishers from industries like education, higher education, trade and high quality magazines, etc. With its established reputation of providing high security solutions to its clientele, Manipal Technologies Ltd was chosen as the first printer in Asia to undertake printing for JK Rowling’s Casual Vacancy published by Hachette India.

Beyond publishing…

In 2011, Manipal Press Ltd was re-christened as Manipal Technologies Ltd in order to reflect its new area of focus i.e. technology solutions. The company offers technology solutions beyond its staple print offerings in order to keep pace with the emerging business trends in the national and international markets. This step has ensured that the company is able to stay in tune with the constantly changing business landscape and be one step ahead of its competition.

Manipal Technologies has also strategic tie-ups and business partnerships with the likes of QuadGraphics, USA and LEGO SpA, Italy. These partnerships have helped Manipal Technologies Ltd incorporating world class technology into its business.

The Manipal Group is a diversified billion dollar company head-quartered in Manipal, India that has specialized operations in diverse segments such as technology, print, fragrances, media, education, energy & infrastructure, etc. The group believes in creating sustainable institutions that contribute to the economic development in India and enjoys a reputation of incorporating social welfare as an objective in all its businesses. The Manipal Group has an 85 years old history that starts from the very first initiative of setting up the Syndicate Bank which today, is one of India’s largest nationalized banks. And the tradition continues….



tells Dinesh Goyal of Goyal Brothers Prakashan in an exclusive interaction with AABP.

The role of K-12 publishing in India is very important. There are around 18,000 secondary schools across the country. With around 15 million children in India studying in K-12, which includes the schools affiliated to CBSE, ICSE and state boards. While, the number of primary and pre-primary schools across the country is huge, informed Dinesh Goyal of Goyal Brothers Prakashan. “This is the time when it is the teachers or the parents who decide upon the purchase of books. Once a child enrolls himself or herself in a professional course, they become the deciding authority. They become mature enough to browse on the internet and then select the book of their choice. While, for K-12 segment, internet sales accounts for just 2-3 percent,” he added.

Dinesh also shares an interesting fact that demographically, Keralites spend more on the reference books as they are more job-oriented. Then comes, the people from Punjab, who do spend a lot on books, but the utilization is less. “Since they can afford it, they buy it, but they are not very education-oriented,” he added as a matter of fact. “Bengalis also like to spend on books,” he added. Another interesting point he shared was that in Bihar, people spend more on education after the child passes 12th standard, as they want their children to do well in competitive exams.

Talking about the Indian children vis-à-vis foreign counterparts, Dinesh said, “Indian children are more intelligent though they have lesser exposure. The competition is tough and children study to secure better jobs for themselves. Hence, the Indian syllabus is also very rich.”

The strong credentials...

Goyal Brothers Prakashan is a name to reckon with among the leading, well known and prestigious publishing houses in India. Founded in 1960, by late Kewal Ram Gupta it has made progress by leaps and bounds. From a humble beginning, four decades ago, it now caters to over 25,000 schools all over India and sells over eight million books. So what is the secret behind this huge set-up? “It is the family business and our unity is our biggest strength. We are five brothers and we all work under one umbrella. We believe in doing good work and that too with our ethics,” told the humble Dinesh.

With 800 titles, their publishing house offers books in the price range of Rs 100-180.The average print runs differ – from 10,000 to 20,000 to 50,000 copies, depending upon the title. Though their books are marketed across the country, the major share goes to Delhi, Rajasthan, UP and Andhra Pradesh. “All the school textbooks are revised every three years while the books for 11th and 12th standard are revised every year. Our books are in English language, barring the Hindi textbook. All our authors are from India,” informed Dinesh.

The group employs 700 staff, with 120 people in marketing and 75-80 in editorial. They prefer to work through distributors as catering directly to schools has never been their first choice.

On exports...

Their export-oriented unit Goyal Books Overseas Pvt Ltd, supplies books for gulf countries. “The syllabus for the Indian schools in gulf countries is similar as in India,” told Dinesh. On asking about the pricing of these books, Dinesh replied, “The price of our books is same for all countries. But, there are two lacunaes – it depends on the demand and supply for retailers and the local expenses within the country.”

Revealing further on exports it was informed that almost 5-20 percent of the total exports (Rs 150 crore), is of books from Goyal Brothers Prakashan while 80 percent of the exports being the merchant exports.

On e-learning solutions...

Ten years back, Goyal Brothers Prakashan started offering CD–ROMs alongwith their textbooks, which was very successful. “We forayed into EduLab International 3-4 years back. We have around 15,000-20,000 members on our portal, where we offer the content for Class 3-12,” told Dinesh. His son Akhil Goyal is looking after the e-learning solutions.

“We have already converted some of our best titles in e-books. We wish to go global and e-books is the best way to achieve it. We have an in-house team for conversion, though we also outsource some of our requirements,” told Akhil. “The market is shaping up for these products but the technology is changing at a rapid pace and so is a challenge to meet up with these technological changes. Besides, the teachers also need a lot of training to use these solutions. But, we are offering training to them as well,” he added.

On general books…

Charles Baker Books Ltd is the London-based wing of Goyal Prakashan, publishing general books. “Our sale from this division is more in Africa than in India,” informed Dinesh.

On a concluding note…

“Books should be meaningful and the society as well as the country should gain in the process,” concluded Dinesh.



The ultimate reference tool remains the Encyclopaedias for all of us. But, this segment of publishing industry is also transforming with the digital invasion. With Encyclopaedia Britannica offering only digital version, the path has been set and publishers are following suit. What publishers think about this transformation and where the industry is going, finds AABP. Digital is the future of Encyclopaedias

Encyclopaedias have played and continue to play a very significant role with the academic world. They are the backbone of any self-respecting library as collieries of updated universal literature in all subject areas. Subodh Kapoor, chief editor, Cosmo Publications, shares more about the trends in the encyclopedia segment.

The word "encyclopaedia" comes from mistaken Koine Greek transliterated enkyklios paideia; enkyklios , meaning "circular, recurrent, required regularly, general" and paideia , meaning "education". Together, the phrase literally translates as "common knowledge" or "general knowledge". Copyists of Latin manuscripts took this phrase to be a single Greek word, enkyklopaidia, with the same meaning, and this spurious Greek word became the New Latin word "encyclopaedia", which in turn came into English.

Europe has been the traditional home for encyclopaedia publishing for close to past 500 odd years. The Americans revolutionised the publishing of these kinds of reference works in their quest for consolidating the big pool of knowledge that had been accumulated by the Europeans, and making it available to the newly established institutions of knowledge after their independence. It also ensured the satisfying of the great hunger for new information and breakthroughs in Europe which at that time supplied most of the scientific and technical literature to America. Currently America is the epicenter of Encyclopaedia publishing especially in the scientific and technical areas. The Russians, markedly in the Soviet era, and the Japanese have published some significant works in this specialized field of publishing.

The hard work behind Encyclopaedia…

Publishing an Encyclopaedia is a time and cost intensive proposition, and requires a different skill-set for the publishing house. It must, by its very nature, bring together a number of experts in a particular field in which the encyclopaedia need to be planned, which means a good knowledge of the field itself for the editor or the publisher initiating the work. It is then painstakingly pursued for the articles or the required information to come through from experts. Once a reasonable pool of information has been collected, distilled and collated, the actual work of putting it all together starts for the publishing team. The decision for the publishing team to put a limit to the amount of information to be included, and by that is meant the number of pages and volumes that must be published, becomes a critical one. The task of heading the team of editors or that of a chief editor is therefore assigned to a field expert, having the expertise and the peer respect for getting the latest information required to make the encyclopaedia a commercial success.

The Indian scenario…

India with its huge pool of scholars and scientists should be a country leading this field of publishing. Unfortunately it does not. The scientific and scholarly output of our academic community leaves a lot to be desired. One abhors the lack of peer reviewed articles and scientific literature that is put out by our leading institutions, universities and technical colleges. This output forms the very backbone of publishing endeavours in this specialized field. In the Asian region, the Chinese, the Japanese and even the Koreans are way ahead of us in the output of scientific and technical literature.

So, inevitably India has to depend on encyclopaedias published abroad especially in the technical and scientific areas. We are gaining some ground in the Humanities and Social Sciences where Indian publishers are beginning to put out reasonably good reference works but they are still too few and far between to make any significant numbers. On the back of these small numbers is the terrible situation we face in India where some unscrupulous publishers have been publishing what is referred to as “cut-and-paste” encyclopaedias which are nothing more than putting together information taken from the web and hawked as encyclopaedic works. This has invariably brought bad name and the foreign institutional buyers are viewing encyclopaedia publishing from India with a very liberal dose of skepticism.

The situation with the Indian buyers is no better. Although Indian higher education system has expanded at a fast pace by adding nearly 20,000 colleges and more than eight million students in a decade from 2000-01 to 2010-11, and as of 2011, India has 42 central universities, 275 state universities, 130 deemed universities, 90 private universities, 5 institutions established and functioning under the State Act, and 33 Institutes of National Importance, the purchase of encyclopaedia and reference works is abysmally low. In fact the encyclopaedias and reference works of similar nature are the last in the list of priorities with libraries. With library budgets being squeezed across the board with government supported and funded institutions the problem gets further compounded.

Currently we see a peculiar situation in India where those authorized to sanction purchase of books in universities have put a blanket ban on purchases beyond a particular price-point, and no prizes for guessing, this definitely puts encyclopaedias beyond the scope of consideration for purchase. It is quite obvious that encyclopaedias and reference works are considered a luxury, thus defeating the whole idea of a “library” which more than anything else is a house of reference. So marketing of encyclopaedias is a huge challenge in this country, the decisive factor being the reputation of the publisher and the past output. With well over 300 Encyclopaedias and reference works, Cosmo has played a significant role in this niche market.

Encyclopaedias have played and continue to play a very significant role with the academic world. They are the backbone of any self-respecting library as collieries of updated universal literature in all subject areas. The libraries cannot, should not, deprive the users of this uniquely significant tool of keeping abreast with the latest information in the case of scientific and technical literature, and peer-reviewed and collated material in the areas of humanities and social sciences. If textbooks are a must for students than the important information, they can garner only from an encyclopaedia which is a necessary element of studying a subject. One can argue that if Indian students do not get into the habit of referring to secondary sources then a lot of blame should be laid at the doorsteps of the libraries for not providing them with the right tools. And the most significant tool in secondary source reference is – THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA.

Encyclopaedias from Cosmo

Cosmo has had a reasonably successful experience with publishing reference works. The fact that the first work which Cosmo published, way back in 1972, was a multi-volume encyclopaedic dictionary “Dictionary of Economic Products of India, in 10 volumes”, laid the path for a sensible and mature vision of looking at such publishing. They have published some of the leading and ambitious reference works and encyclopaedias to have been undertaken in this part of the world, many of which have enjoyed international success. Some of these include their bestsellers – The Indian Encyclopaedia (25 Volumes); Encyclopaedia of Indian Heritage (90 Volumes); Encyclopaedia of Tantra (5 Volumes); The Hindus. Encyclopaedia of Hinduism (5 Volumes); The Muslims. Encyclopaedia of Islam (11 Volumes); Encyclopaedia of Indian Mysticism (12 Volumes); Encyclopaedia of Indian Tribes and Castes (23 Volumes), and many more fine works of scholarly excellence.

Cosmo has recently partnered with an American publisher – Impact Global Publishing Inc. – to bring to India some of the finest Encyclopaedias and reference works at special Indian prices which are international bestsellers, including, International Encyclopaedia of Gods & Goddesses; International Encyclopaedia of Worship in All Religions; Encyclopaedia of Asian Philosophy and Religions; Encyclopaedia of Modern Philosophies of Law; as well as perennials like Durant’s The Story of Civilization; Hastings’ Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, etc. The uniqueness of this partnership is the fact that the Encyclopaedias are released in India simultaneously to their being made available to the rest of the world.

The markets…

Most of the encyclopaedias and reference works of similar nature that we publish are targeted at the scholarly community, libraries and institutions. Due to this focused approach these works are printed in limited numbers and are therefore expensive. Cosmo now has a list of 3000 titles in its expanding catalogue, and there are more than 300 encyclopaedias and reference works of similar nature on offer. Exports form a very formidable part of this output and libraries from across the world regularly place orders for our works. We enjoy the trust of institutions and libraries to an extent that many of them place “standing orders” for our reference works. Very reputable distributors of reference works in Germany, the United Kingdom and America regularly carry special advertising campaigns only for Cosmo’s works, which is unique to a publisher from India. The recently concluded one such campaign for our “Sacred Books of the Hindus” in 38 Parts was a huge success in Continental Europe. We have partnered with three international publishers to take our “Encyclopaedia of Tantra” to the readers in their respective countries with the work in 5 volumes now in its 5th printing.

On digital publishing…

Lately, the publishing landscape of this type of publishing is seeing rapid churning of unforeseen proportions. With the onset, and the rapid strides, of digital publishing, especially those linked to the web, the print editions are seeing some stress in the output, the price and the numbers being put out. This phenomena will see rapid increase in the near future and one will see increasing number of reference works published digitally. More so with the increasing availability of Tablets and Pads and their decreasing price points, the access to ready information will only proliferate. The publishers will benefit enormously by going digital as they can attract individuals directly to their encyclopaedias in increasing numbers which was not possible with libraries, especially in a country like India where we see so little numbers being sold.

Digital is the future of encyclopaedias and huge reference works. The content can also be sold in many different ways to generate additional revenue streams for the publisher which was not possible with the print version. The digital age also ensures shortening of the time it takes from conception to execution of the works of this mega proportions. Smaller encyclopaedias meant for individual consumption however will continue to be published in bigger numbers but here also those which link the printed word to the web and provide digital content supplementing the print word will have a huge advantage. We will see a similar situation with encyclopaedias targeted at children which will continue to proliferate.


Harnessing the potential of print, electronic and online media…

With Encyclopaedia Britannica now available in digital version only, what changes have been in the industry in general and Encyclopaedia Britannica in particular, shares Sarvesh Shrivastava, managing director, Encyclopaedia Britannica South Asia.

“Acceptance of digital content over print has been steadily increasing worldwide and we see the same trend in India. Take the library as an example. With the increasing adoption of digital libraries, learners are not constrained by the availability of only a few physical copies of the titles. Reference can now be truly brought into the classroom. Schools, colleges as well as public libraries can now focus on adding more titles to their collection with the available funds instead of incurring costs in maintaining and replacing limited number of print copies. In India, digital encyclopedias are also available at substantially lower subscription cost with all the advantages of rich media and constant updates compared to the earlier investment in print versions,” tells Sarvesh Shrivastava, managing director, Encyclopedia Britannica South Asia.

There are encyclopedias available on various subjects and for various age groups, for example the Encyclopedia of India and the Student Encyclopedia. “Britannica is available on our new app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch for anytime learning and answers on the go,” he adds.

On asking about the scope of Encyclopedias in India, Sarvesh replied, “The size of the textbook market was estimated at about US $ 1.7 bn a few years back with a growth of over 10 percent and the educational online and multimedia segment was estimated to be approx. US$ 450 million with a similar growth. We see the entire segment as an opportunity for us at Encyclopædia Britannica.”

“Globally we have done away with print editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica, but in India, we are still selling some titles in print. The last 32 volume print edition set sold for Rs 65,000,” told Sarvesh.

On technological transformation…

“We have taken technology changes as an opportunity to enrich our content and bring it ubiquitously to our customers. We were amongst the first to launch an electronic encyclopedia. Later in the 90’s, with the advent of CDROMs, personal computers and the Internet, the users were suddenly at the helm of choices that made information as well as content available to them in a lot of different forms be it audiovisual, text or animation with much ease. By this time, we were already geared up for the changing times and introduced Britannica Online, a web-based version of the Encyclopædia Britannica and the first such work on the Internet in the year of 1994. Complementing this, as general reference for kids, we introduced Britannica Kids. As an institutional offering for colleges and schools, we introduced Britannica Online Academic edition and Britannica School. Britannica E-STAX has been added to offer over 1200 reference titles in eBook form covering a wide range of subject areas,” he adds.

About Encyclopaedia Britannica…

Encyclopædia Britannica is widely regarded as an authority in reference and general knowledge ever since its first publication in 1768. Thousands of eminent experts, scholars, and leaders have contributed to Britannica in the past and continue to do so today, including more than a hundred Nobel laureates, four presidents of the United States, countless Pulitzer Prize winners and others of international renown.

Information that a reader is seeking or discovers transforms to knowledge and learning when it is of the requisite level and considered trustworthy. As a pioneer in the field of knowledge and learning, they have kept our focus to offer the most trustworthy and age appropriate content during this journey of over 245 years – from the My First Britannica for children to Encyclopædia Britannica for life-long learning. Earlier, with the print edition one had to wait for the annual updates. Today, the Encyclopædia Britannica products are found in a multitude of digital age-appropriate forms that are updated continuously, many times a day.

“Trustworthy content and editorial quality has always been fundamental to our value proposition in the growing sea of questionable information in the age of internet. This differentiator has kept the momentum consistent and established a strong relationship with our users,” adds Sarvesh as a matter of fact.

“With a thrust on educational initiatives; today, we are geared to harness the immense potential of the convergence of print, electronic, and online media. We have done this by consolidating our product offerings and going beyond reference products thereby developing full-fledged learning solutions catalogue, providing individualized learning for various grades and reading levels,” he adds.

In terms of reference the bestsellers in India are Britannica Global Edition; Britannica Student Encyclopedia; Britannica Illustrated Science Library and fascinating reference books in association with Rosen Educational Services to help students develop a deeper understanding of core subjects and current events.

Encyclopaedia Britannica today…

“We believe that “research” is more important than “search”. On demand information is readily available everywhere these days. Internet has given unlimited power to everyone. While this is liberating, search for trustworthy and appropriate information quickly is almost becoming an art. Britannica‘s digital products offer a fast and dependable way to access reliable information. For these reasons, we continue to be most used resource for general reference by leading schools, colleges and universities worldwide,” concludes Sarvesh.



-Post Graduate Diploma in Book Publishing: An IGNOU innovative initiative

Two of the most frequently asked questions by subject experts who are also conversant with desktop publishing and word processing is “Why do I need an editor if my language and word processing skills are good?” And “Why do I need a publisher if I have DTP, a printer and a willing cover designer and printer.” Prof Sunaina Kumar shows the importance of training in book publishing.

It is common knowledge that there is a trust deficit between publishers and authors with both suspecting the other of unduly profiteering from the publishing process. Do publishers now see books merely as “revenue-earning products, to be quickly produced, attractively packaged, effectively publicized and completely sold”? Do authors suspect that publishers are, through various strategies, not revealing the number of copies sold/printed and not sharing royalties?

Publishing is after all a business, and books must create livelihood for all those involved in the process of creating a book—editors, printers, binders, sales and distribution entities, marketing persons and so on.

The crying need of the day, then, was a course that, while training aspiring publishing professionals, also transparently detailed the entire publishing process. Collaterally, this would benefit all the stakeholders in the process. (An offshoot of this unfortunate suspicion was some computer hardware and publishing software have emerged that, while facilitating aspiring self-publishers, killed much initiative, creativity and independent thought. Honorable exceptions apart, that is.)

Courses in book publishing

A pilot study conducted by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) revealed that while there were some courses that offered training in one or other aspects of publishing, through workshops or part-time courses, there was none that was comprehensive, recognised both by academia and industry.

PG Diploma in Book Publishing

While the world of book publishing has changed phenomenally in the last three decades or so and there are a variety of means by which books can be accessed nowadays—print, hand held devices, computers, other portable electronic devices like smart-phones, pen-drives, etc, something intrinsic has not changed. What has not changed to the same degree is the content.

The development process

In order to address this and related issues, the IGNOU and the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) held a series of brainstorming meetings and designed a Post Graduate Diploma in Book Publishing. This was a major initiative and the resultant programme (called a course in conventional parlance) was developed, designed, printed and produced under an MOU signed for the purpose by the IGNOU and the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP).

An account of the experience of offering such a Programme follows. It is hoped that many such courses specialising in one or other aspect of publishing follow our lead.

Any course on book publishing must first recount that which is already in place and point the way forward to new experiments as well. Basically, what has been in place for over three hundred years is what needs to be systematically presented to an aspiring publishing professional before going into any future developments.

Our attempt in preparing a book publishing programme is a ringside window into the field of book publishing. This is followed by courses (papers in common parlance) that would take students through the entire publishing process. (Since publishing for newspapers and periodicals is a different thing altogether, we have not gone into this in detail except for pointing out the difference in the two domains.)

As mentioned earlier, our surveys of such programmes already available in India showed that the existing ones were either for some weeks, one month or part-time or occasional. This meant that faculty was available only for the duration of the book publishing course and the materials – print, hardcopy or soft or lectures and field trips were essentially ephemeral in nature.

We therefore felt that leverage of the existing knowledge, skills and resources of the IGNOU and the FIP would go a long way in preparing a course that could serve both for introduction and skill upgradation. Such a course would be available in print, via interactivity using multimedia and be validate by evaluation followed by certification in case it was to be of any purpose. We call it the PG Diploma in Book Publishing (PGDBP).

The PG Diploma in Book Publishing has eight courses or parts: Introduction To Publishing And Its Legal Aspects (compulsory); Editing and Pre-Press (compulsory); Production & Emerging Technologies (compulsory); Marketing Promotion and Distribution of Books (compulsory); Editing Books For Children (optional); Editing Scientific Technical and Medical Books (optional); Editing Textbooks (optional) and Apprenticeship/ Internship (compulsory).

The last component, designed again in collaboration between IGNOU and the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) was a four-week compulsory training in a publishing house that was a member of the FIP. This was an in-built measure of certification and validation both – certification by our identified supervisor of the training and validation through a daily diary and a viva—a measure necessary in these days of fly-by-night printing houses (calling themselves publishers) and DTP companies that can provide seemingly genuine certificates, logo and all.

The elective (optional) papers include those components for which that is a demand in the market which include editing books for children, editing STM and editing textbooks. It has come as a surprise to many of our students that publishing does not only mean editing and that there are many, many openings in marketing, sales and distribution.

What we learnt

Our experience, as those involved in the actual training has been most instructive. While, designing this programme we tried to cater to both entry-level learners and those seeking skill and knowledge upgradation. To our pleasant surprise, we saw our applicants include retired bureaucrats, middle-level employees of publishing houses and of IGNOU itself (IGNOU is the largest publisher of tertiary level textbooks in the country), technocrats, housewives, aspirants to jobs in educational and administration setups like the NCERT, the Rajya Sabha, and so on.

What has been seen is that most learners are keen to undertake the training as designed and structured by us (our manual gives detailed instructions for both trainer and trainee). This includes one week in each of the core areas covered in courses mentioned before. We find that a fair number wish to get their training in the publishing house, printing house or DTP concern where they are already employed. They are looking for skill-upgradation or certification.

What still needs attention?

The internet, with its capability of overriding time and place constraints is the biggest culprit for offering chances of plagiarism, copyright violation, breach of privacy and trust, the temptation to copy-and-paste, etc. Since the internet is an evolving entity whose courtesies or lakshman rekhas are not yet in place, we have tried to sensitise our learners to what constitutes copyright violations, IR violations, etc. Many users of what is available on the internet have no concept that what can be read cannot be passed-off as one’s own. As soon as one danger is identified and tackled, another crops up. A small example is that most people in academia do not understand that even an unpublished thesis is copyright!

Another issue that most authors do not seem to be aware of is that Author-Publisher agreement is important to protect both the parties. Financial loss apart, the practical aspects of preparing an MSS for publishing are clearly laid out in this and prevent much heartburn later—even after both the parties may be no more, the heirs will benefit.

We propose to keep updating our materials and would be looking out for modularly doing so by creating elective (optional) courses on self publishing, do-it-yourself publishing, print-on-demand, new modes of distribution, multiple distribution channels, etc.

(Prof Sunaina Kumar is on the faculty of IGNOU and has developed courses on creative writing, feature writing, copy editing and proofreading and is currently working on a course on World Literatures in English Translation. Currently she holds the charge of director, School of Humanities as well.)



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