|Blogs and Articles
Comments and posts on trends and events in the book industry.
Bhutan’s litfest was a perfectly curated retreat
With no publishers and high printing costs, one would think it’s tough to be a writer in Bhutan. All of them are self-published authors but it’s not like the vanity publishing we know. They could teach our publishers a thing or two about marketing. Take former diplomat Lily Wangchhuk. Last year, when she wrote her first book, Facts About Bhutan, she couldn’t find a publisher abroad. They kept trying to turn it into something it wasn’t: a guide book. Then Lily decided to publish it on her own, hawking it to every outlet, official and unofficial, she could think of. The result: 25,000 copies sold in less than five months. Nor is her book cheap: it’s priced at Rs 1,250.
Read more »New equations
Source: The Hindu
David Davidar, who made books fashionable for the urban middle class, returns to the Indian publishing scene with Aleph, a high-end company forged in partnership with Rupa and Co.
David is clear what kind of titles he would opt for. He even admits he is not looking for mass production and very many authors. He would rather want Aleph to be like Faber or Hamilton. “It has to be a high-end publishing company and we are looking for novelists. We will be selective. We will take a book if it is distinctive, will make a mark. A good book should achieve 90 per cent of what it set out to do in its genre. As beginners we have the luxury of being able to choose. It is like we don’t have certain figures of the previous year to live up to.” Kapish adds, “The reader cannot be persuaded to buy a bad book.”
Read more »The corruption in Indian publishing
Poor and gutsy Indian authors don’t seem to get published. Maybe a consortium of billionaires must buy half the industry and clean it up.
Why is it that Salman Rushdie and his elite friends, mostly from the upper middle class or wealthy families and elite schools, hog 90 per cent of the sales and advances granted to Indian authors by Western publishers? They tend to present a synthetic literary picture of India, while a rainbow-variety of discordant and authentic voices is suppressed. There is greed and dishonesty here. The spokesmen Indian authors who pretend theirs is the only point of view, that they represent the hundreds of millions of Indians they have never met, never socialise with, and never could begin to understand – because they have never been truly poor and unprivileged, and only have learned how to copy the Western literary masters and to write snake-charming sentences. America would find it intolerable if all its authors were Ivy League products coming from privileged backgrounds, and the working class Americans who managed to squeak through community colleges were never heard from.
Read more »Story-telling takes on graphic form
Source: The Hindu
Looking beyond the categorisation of illustrated novels as ‘children’s books’, many publishers are encouraging readers to engage with literature differently.
India’s first widely marketed graphic novel was published only in 2004. While the readership remains niche, the variety and diversity of themes and forms being explored by graphic novels have rapidly increased. Pure text will soon start facing stiff competition from graphic novels, say publishers.
Ashok Rajagopalan, a graphic novel artist, says that there is wide degree of acceptance and the form is being given some prestige now. “A number of Chennai-based publishers have started experimenting with illustration-based books.”
He identifies two reasons behind the increasing readership for graphic novels. “People are getting lazier. So publishers are experimenting with short visual-based reads. In airport bookstores, for example, you won’t find 60,000-word classics. Secondly, print is slowly going out of fashion. The medium is changing due to the Internet and devices such as the Kindle. People are engaging with literature differently.”
Read more »Can English rescue regional writing?
After being felicitated for receiving the Tagore Literature Award for her work Badlondian Bahaaraan, Dogri writer Santosh Khajuria did not mince words in holding Dogri-speaking people responsible for what she called the “sorry state” the language has been reduced to.
“Just like those who negate their mothers once they reach the pinnacle, these people seem to feel ashamed to speak their own language,” she said, adding, “This can end up killing our traditional languages and we may lose a really rich trove of our cultural legacy in the process.”
So, is translation the only way out of this situation? Khajuria admitted wryly, “I don’t know. Maybe we should look at translations into other Indian regional languages and not English alone.” Read more »
In defence of books
Source: The Hindu
What is it that lawmakers fear when they resort to banning books?
When it comes to books, what do the lawmakers fear? Moral corruption? Violence? Sentiments being hurt? Then they should be barking up the right tree! When they choose to ban these books, aren’t they being rather presumptuous? They believe for instance that a huge majority of the population reads/buys books; that the people who buy these books actually read/analyse them; that those who do analyse them get corrupted/motivated enough to act against the state. (Most of those who do make the grade are academics and litterateurs by the way, denied the opportunity to even discuss/debate the subject.)
Read more »Dewdrops and dunes
Romance novels are the world’s best-selling fiction category. In India, the market picks up
Unlike the course of true love, Mills & Boon India is finding the going smooth. In a typical Indian book store, 30% of all books sold are either children’s books, or romance novels. Romance “comes in just behind children’s fiction as the largest selling category of English books in India,” says Manish Singh, country head, Mills & Boon India.
Some of that optimism informed Sandhya Sridhar and Sunita Suresh’s decision to begin their own publishing house, Pageturn Publishers, in Chennai last year. “We’re both avid readers of romance, and have always dreamt of filling this odd gap in the Indian media,” Sridhar says. They both quit their jobs to set up Pageturn, which now puts out two titles a month under its imprint, Red Romance.
Read more »The top five political comic books
Navayana’s Bhimayana is the sole book from India (even Asia) to make it to comics curator Paul Gravett list of Top 5 political comic books on CNN’s international website, sharing space with genre classics like Maus, Palestine and Persepolis.
Bhimayana explores the plight of India’s Dalits, or Untouchables, who — despite the abolition of the country’s ancient caste system — continue to face routine discrimination based on the idea that they are impure.
The book, published this year, combines the biography of Indian activist and Dalit champion Bhimrao Ambedkar – who himself grew up Untouchable – with a present-day conversation between two people at a bus stop about whether or not the problem still exists.
Read more »‘Upside Down’ lands right side up
T.R Rajesh, author and illustrator of ‘Upside Down’ has another reason to smile.
The book, originally in Malayalam, was awarded the Balasahithya Puraskaram 2010 for Best Picture Book by the KSICL (Kerala State Institute of Children’s Literature) at the awards ceremony held on the 11th of May in Ernakulam. The Balasahithya Puraskaram is an annual award for books published in Kerala and the Malayalam edition of ‘Upside Down’ by T. R. Rajesh was co-published by Tulika and KSICL. Read more »
The Indie Boom
Source: Business Standard
Over the last few years, the subtlest shifts in the way we read have been brought about by a thriving company of independent publishers, ranging from veterans like Seagull and Katha to relative newcomers like Queer Ink. Nilanjana Roy, author and literary critic presents a handful of indie favourites, and why you should read them. Read more »
New Book Releases and Events
New book and journal releases, new imprints and other similar events.
Muse India announces National Literary Awards
To recognize and reward excellence in Indian literature, Muse India is happy to announce institution of two National Awards to be given annually, during Hyderabad Literary Festival. These are:
a) Muse India Young Writer Award to be given to an outstanding original work in English or in English translation from an Indian language. Each year the award will be for a different literary genre (poetry, short fiction, play, novel etc.). For the 2011 award, the genre will be poetry.
b) Muse India Translator Award to be given to a significant work of translation into English from any of the Indian languages. Translation should be of a classic or any other important literary work, preferably not translated earlier, and seen as an important contribution to Indian Literature. Read more »
History of Marathi literature in parts
Source: Times of India
Pune based Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad – the apex Marathi literary body involved in publishing research volumes tracing the history of Marathi literature, [has released] the last two parts of the seventh volume on May 27.
A statement issued by the Parishad said that the six volumes published earlier traced the history of Marathi literature till the year 1950. “The Parishad undertook the task of compiling the history of Marathi literature post 1950 in 2006. This volume has four parts, two of which were published in May 2009 and February 2010. The volume has become big as a period of 50 years from 1950 to 2000 has been covered in it”, the statement said.
The volumes on history of Marathi literature not only act as valuable reference material for students and researchers of Marathi literature but also guides future direction of research. Rare photographs of authors are also included in the volumes. Read more »
Captivating young minds through comics
Source: The Hindu
Wilco Publishers recently launched eight more English titles from the Wilco Picture Library (WPL) series of comic books. The publishing house has also released 20 Kannada titles.
The comic books explore subjects ranging from mythology and ancient history to religion. The titles also include the science of inventions, discoveries, new cities and festivals.
Ajai Shah, Managing Director of Wilco Publishers said: “The Wilco comic books are a combination of education and entertainment called edutainment. “We aim to captivate young minds and make even boring material fun and educative.
The comic books will be published in multiple regional languages so as to inculcate the habit of reading among young people and also improve literacy levels.”Read more »
Tagore works transcribed into Braille
Source: Deccan Herald
Chennai-based Third Eye Charitable Trust plans to transcribe literary works, including those of Tagore, into Braille by tying-up with publishing houses like Scholastic India, Penguin and Tulika Publishers.
“We have already converted two volumes of Tagore’s “Gitobitan” (a collection of songs) into Braille. The third volume is under production now and will be ready in the next few months,” Mahua Seth, founder trustee of the NGO, said.Read more »
Pottekatt’s ‘Desam’ breaks translation jinx
Oru Desathinte Kadha had warded off attempts at translation and remained unavailable to the non-Malayalee reading community for four decades despite its epic status. One of S K Pottekatt’s few books that has not been translated, it can also be singled out among Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademi award-winning works for remaining untranslated for so long.
It took Sreedevi K Nair and P Radhika five years to dissect through the resistance put up by the voluminous vernacular to wrap up ‘The Story of a Desam’. The project, selected for the 2010-11 Translation Grant from the International Center for Writing and Translation (ICWT), University of California, Irvine, will duly be published in book form. Read more »
‘Adopt an ebook’ to preserve manuscripts
Source: The Economic Times
Book lovers in the city have launched an initiative called ‘Adopt an ebook’ to preserve manuscripts and ancient literature by digitally converting them into ebooks. People who participate in the project will be called ‘parents’ as they will ‘adopt’ these ebooks.
“There are lots of manuscripts, so converting them into the digital format is a huge task. So we have decided to involve the public in this project,” said Mandar Joglekar, founder of Bookganga.com. “Our first goal is to convert old Marathi literature texts into ebooks.”
Joglekar, who also runs an IT firm in the US, said that a similar initiative has already been started in the US. The Pune project has received response from five persons, and more volunteers are joining. Read more »
News from around the world…
Global book club launches on Twitter
Source: The Guardian
From New Zealand to Brazil, India to Japan, thousands of readers around the world are coming together to tackle Margaret Atwood’s Booker-prize winning novel The Blind Assassin through a global Twitter book club.
1book140 follows last summer’s One Book, One Twitter club, which saw 12,000 people discussing Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on the micro-blogging site. Originator Jeff Howe, author of Crowdsourcing and a professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, decided to relaunch the initiative this year, in conjunction with the Atlantic magazine, and to make it a monthly virtual meet-up for readers. “One Book, One Twitter was a smash. The only problem? It disappeared, like barbecues and seersucker suits, when summer came to a close,” said Howe. “Now it’s back … It has a new name – 1book140 – but what hasn’t changed is the global, participatory nature of the affair: The crowd is still in charge.” Read more »