Wednesday, January 30, 2013

CEO Roundtable - 'India: An International Market'

As more and more international players are entering the Indian market, partnering with Indian media houses or setting up complete new offices in the country, the question might arise as to how the Indian market can stay independent while working alongside the international players at the same time. What has happened in the last years and how will the market react to these new developments? Are the internationals strengthening their powers in the Indian market with setting up their own businesses and leaving their joint venture partners? These and other questions form the basis of this discussion which is going to lead the way forward.

To take on the issues and find a way forward for the publishing market the movers of the industry from across the globe have come forward to participate and innovate.

At the CEO Roundtable we had Roberto Banchik Rothschild, Director General, Random House Mondadori, Mexio; Urvashi Butalia, Publisher, Zubaan, India; Juergen Boos, President, Frankfurt Book Fair, Germany; Richard Charkin, Executive Director, Bloomsbury, UK; Judith Curr, Publisher, Atria Books (imprint Simon & Schuster NYC), USA; Manish Purohit, Chief Executive, Popular Prakashan Private Limited India; Bipin Shah, Managing Director and Publisher, Mapin India, India and P.M Sukumar, CEO of Harper Collins India, India moderated by Naresh Khanna, Publisher, Indian Printer and Publisher, India.

The discussion begins with Naresh shedding some light on the previous forums held by the same entity. He mentioned how the forum brought together publishers from China and the middle-east countries.

‘It was a great platform’, he says ‘for the Indian publishers to interact with the international publishers on home ground. German Book Office (GBO) has persisted in coming up with a formulae for what GBO thought was the way forward in the Indian publishing industry. This roundtable is another opportunity to update ourselves on what’s been happening in the Indian and also the international publishing industry.’

The discussion begins on topics pertaining to the international and the Indian publishing industry.

Judith Curr begins by letting us in on the philosophy that drove her team at Atria books.

‘We started with the idea where books could grow and flourish. We wanted books that had intention. We wanted to find readers for our authors’ she says.

The philosophy has paid off she says and they have done some amazing work. She also lets us in on how a total of 129,000 copies of ‘The Secret’ were sold in India in 5 different Indian languages.

‘Border can be crossed both ways’, she says.

Bipin Shah ventures into the discussion by reiterating the great work done by the Mughals in the past in terms of literature, preserving and creating treasure troves of books. ‘Today, unfortunately we seem to have lost out on that.’

‘India is the undisputed promised land for the English language publishing industry’ he says.

He goes on to state the major issue gripping the Indian publishing industry. He says there is not only a lcak of trained personnel for the publishing industry but the distribution system too seems to be in shambles.

‘Online stores created new sales avenues but they also created problems by allowing the focus to linger on the best-sellers. This has hindered quality content’ he says.

‘You go to a book store and end up buying books you never thought existed’, he continues.

There is a need for quality in every respect- editorial process, organizational ability and marketing are prime necessities today of the Indian market.

‘40 book stores have disappeared over the last two years. Three airport book shops have shout shop. It’s scary to imagine that we may not be able to find the books we want.’

He further goes to state how the regional language market in India has a lot to offer in terms of content and yet it remains largely unexplored.

He suggests that cues could be taken from the journey that the English television channels that launched in India and how they adopted to the market here which is unlike any other in the world.

Richard Charkin in invited into the discussion and he says ‘Territorial issues are irrelevant in the publishing market.’

He goes on list down from his own experiences with the publishing industry and the various issues and advantages that it holds.

WISDEN he reveals which released its 150th issue has never missed its timely publishing, come what may. They also released WISDEN India for the Indian market.

Urvashi begins by talking of her experience at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) this year. She goes on to reveal how there are 23 local schools that have been running outreach programs, collaborating with authors to speak at their schools. Students from other schools as well have been lobbying the authors at the festival to come and speak at their schools.

She reveals she is enthused as well as in despair watching the publishing scene.

‘The privilege that English language enjoys marginalizes Indian languages’, she feels.

She goes on to speak on the unrealistic monetary advances to authors that aren’t earned back. She says except for Chetan Bhagat in India there’s hardly any that justify the advances. The resources for the Indian publishers are also limited.

The heavy cost of distribution hardly leaves enough to meet the other book-publishing process costs. Partnering with other publishing houses like Penguin is good but the logo of Penguin is so famous that her company’s logo gets lost and there’s hardly any traction.
She also goes on to reveal the infringement of copyrights by amazon where they converted books published under her company suddenly found their way on the site without any intimation.

The way forward she believes is in sharing resources and helping each other through collaborations and partnerships.

The moderator puts forward a question to her, ‘Is the issue access to capital or professionalism?’

‘A bit of both’, replies Urvashi. She feels that a publishing house has to let go of some of it’s independence to the source the capital flows from.

Manish Purohit goes on to speak about the grand opportunities that the Indian market provides. Being a nation of mostly youngsters and the education rate gradually increasing, he feels the market will only grow.

Also there are a lot of cell phone and internet users which is growing still in great leaps. This he feels will help the international, Indian and the independent publishing houses.

‘Collaboration can only make two small enterprises big’, he believes. He urges the audience to embrace the digital.

Roberto goes on speak of his experience in the Latin American market.

‘If independent means language and content then I would say its good’ he says addressing the woes of independent publishing houses.

Juergen begins by iterating the need for local talent to understand any market as in terms of local partners or employees who understand the local market.

Distribution issues he feels need to be addressed and that it is a common issue in most parts.

STM in the Digital Age: Keynote address by P T Rajasekharan

Good Morning!

Let me at the outset congratulate and thank German Book Office for organising such a wonderful meeting of like minded professionals at a place as beautiful as Jaipur.

Since this is an informal Round Table meeting I will keep my talk short, informal and hopefully more thought provoking and less provocative.

From the Indian point of view Scientific Technological Medical has mainly remained a text book publishing activity with  occasional reference books thrown in, and most of the activities were and are about import of books from the US & Europe. Reprinting licensed editions is a serious publishing activity and business model here in India.

The advent of Internet offered an opportunity for the Indian subcontinent of being a major player in the 'outsourcing' industry. Today almost all the major global publishers have their presence in India and the debate has begun about China and many other countries like Philippines as contenders who could take away a sizeable share of India's 'outsourcing'. Global and STM publishing is predominantly in the English language and that has been the strength and case for India to be a service participant ever since the opportunity arose.

Publishing and the way content is delivered to the end user has in the meantime  revolutionarily transformed in the past decade and especially in the last 5 years with the arrival of of tablets, apps, thousands of Android platforms, and now even touch-screen computers! Today the end user can choose the kind of content he or she wishes to use with a touch of their fingertips, and that is happening faster than we Publishers can blink.

CONTENT is really becoming the king today and the role and power of the Distributor is being marginalised. Yesterday I heard many voices defining the distribution scenario in India as "sad even with the entry of large conglomerates". There is the question of payment and equally important, the best sellers getting preferences at the cost of an opportunity at all for other books to be exhibited.

I have been in the publishing industry since 1978 and that makes me 35 years old, and I guess experienced enough to have an opinion and a points of view.

I am always puzzled when publishers talk only about the "printed" books and its derivatives when content is discussed. I think as publishers we take ourselves too seriously and are rather prescriptive about what we believe are our domains. We have to be careful not to be too inward looking and open ourselves to new ideas and technologies that we are not familiar with leave alone masters of.

Today's Digital world is not merely the transfer of formatted pages and layouts through the Internet.

Today's Digital world is also about delivering content compatible to the devices that the end users have.

Today's Digital world is NOT about e-books and e-content alone, but about Digital content that can move, that can speak, that can almost blow you a kiss!

It is this participative and interactive content that is asking for its place in publishing today and we can either close our eyes and pretend that it is not happening or be consumed.

The fear of technology, I believe, is part of the reason for this reluctance and I find it rather amusing. Technology has ALWAYS been part of publishing and has coexisted peacefully with content development and delivery. Even in my heydays in Print publishing, I had no idea about the printing machines, colour printing technologies and the array of back ups that went into converting content into the final book format.  Production Managers managed the printers, Editors sweated on the content, marketing did their part and publishers (the prima Donna) waved the baton for the sound of music, sorry publishing!

I can assure you that it is the same thing in Digital Publishing, at least in STM publishing. Learn to think of authors as content providers, printers as developers and your colleagues as soft ware and hard ware techies, and have the patience and the wherewithal, and we are in Business in this brave new world of digital publishing. In print publishing we leave it to our authors, editors and colleagues to run the individual functions independently. That is the way it would work in digital publishing too.
Oh! I forgot - be also ready to invest!!

I am one of those who firmly believe that both print and digital are inevitable parallel lines that will coexist and both have their own place in the scheme of things. As publishers we have to learn to understand both and prepare ourselves to play both the tunes.

Technology is India's strength as much as the English language is, and in a border less world of Digital Publishing, especially in STM, we have an opportunity to be major players not merely as service partners, but also as content providers.

With Focus Medica which is the digital arm of our parental company Panther Publishers, we believe we have made a small beginning in this fantastic voyage and I am optimistic that there would be many more of you with us in this journey.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Vibrant Regional Languages Market in India

Neeta Gupta, Publisher Yatra Books

The speech will deal with Vibrant Regional Language Market for Books in India. What is the current situation? What is the size and projected growth of the market, what needs to change to make it even more competitive and global in its outreach.

Neeta Gupta is at the GLOBALOCAL forum to let the audience in on the vibrant regional languages market in India.

She begins ‘India speaks in many languages, also publishes in many languages.’

She lists down the numbers that are relevant to the publishing industry vis-à-vis the diversity in languages and readers base.

She states the classical dilemma that a writer faces today- deciding the language to write in- his own mother tongue or English. Of course, the latter choice will open up a wider market for him and also up his chances of getting published.

Sahitya Akademi, set up in 1954 has done its bit to encourage writers of various languages by awarding and supporting them. It has given a boost to regional literature of all genres.

The Indian Constitution lists down 22 languages and there are newspapers in 101 languages, radio programs in 146 speech varieties. To add to that is literature written in 50 languages and about 25 writing systems, out of which 14 are connected to the Unicode System.

 Reiterating the importance of national, political and commercial communication, Neeta also mentions how the Indian publishing is portrayed as the success story of English language publishing.

India’, she says ‘is the preferred destination for international publishers because India is 2nd only to the US in terms of population of English language speakers.’

She however goes further to simplify the statistics by saying how English language readers constitute only 12% of the reading public and the real numbers and growth lie in regional writing/publishing. However, the problem with this industry may stem from the fact that a large part of it is unorganized.

Neeta wraps up on the positive note that the Indian market is growing and that people are ready to pay higher, and that Nielsen’s Bookscan features at least 4-5 titles in Hindi in top 250.

‘This is an exciting time to be in the publishing industry in India!’ she concludes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Globalocal Opening Address by Pavan K. Varma

GLOBALOCAL2013 – the Forum for Content is a one-off platform that bridges the gap
between publishers- regional, national, international or independent and provides
for them with one-on-one networking opportunities.

The forum this year at The Lalit, Jaipur, was creatively placed between two other
events- the Jaipur Literature Festival and New Delhi World Book Fair, providing
an opportunity for more participation of global and local players in the publishing

Pavan Varma, author and diplomat, rendered the opening speech and shed
light on the rich language heritage that India is blessed with but which remains
untapped for a more global stage.

‘India has a rich language heritage’, he says. ‘This is a country where there
are 22 languages that go back almost 2000 years. These are independent
languages. They aren’t modified or improvised. They have their own compass of
thoughts and a rich vocabulary.’

He rues the fact that with the rise in popularity of English and the influence
that it bears on the global and Indian stage, the Indian languages have been
marginalized. This he feels to be tragic for a country like India which has such a
rich history of languages.

He goes on to suggest that the purity and chastity of our own language needs
to be preserved and that we in India need to encourage English speaking while
being close to our own mother tongue.

Having also attended the Jaipur Literature Festival and spoken extensively on
various subjects apart from his own book on Kamasutra, Pavan is tremendously
happy with the events and reiterates their benefits. He believes there should be
more such conferences and forums held in different parts of the country.

There also needs to be a forum to bring together the translators to share ideas and
discuss their own development.

‘I want to hold a similar conference in Banaras’, he reveals.

‘You can never substitute your mother tongue. It’s your source to folklore,
rich heritage and stories’ he says with a staunchly supportive attitude towards
regional languages.

He believes that India at the time of Independence, in 1947 should have invested
in a university for translation.

‘There are a lot of writers walled up behind the barrier of language’, he
continues ‘We need good translations.’

He further goes on to list down the issues further by saying that there
aren’t enough properly trained translators and even if there is, there isn’t any
infrastructure to aid them flourish. The market is replete with bad translations that
take out the soul from the original work.

Pavan then goes on to share an incident where he discussed the Indian
education system with Javed Akhtar.

‘We need to seriously work on changing our education system’, he begins.

There is a need to educate our children in their regional language or mother
tongue till the 6th standard. It’s a proven fact that if one is good in one’s mother
tongue, it helps one pick up other foreign languages more easily.

‘It’s a mutilation if you begin your education by singing ‘Baba black sheep’
in nursery without even having begun to learn your own mother tongue’ he

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Katharina Ewald from The Frankfurt Book Fair/GBO New Delhi talks about :

Photo: Here’s an opportunity for all of you out there, who are enthusiastic about the world of publishing. Register here:

So please go ahead and watch this for more:


Photo: This year's Globalocal is designed as an exclusive B2B platform and we are here to facilitate targeted meetings for you through our MATCHMAKINGS. So, don't miss out on this opportunity to meet potential business partners!

GLOBALOCAL 2013: Bringing together the various sections of the Publishing Industry

GLOBALOCAL 2013 is just round the corner and the German Book Office New Delhi is busy with last minute wrap-ups for the event that we all are awaiting eagerly. And as we do that, this is just to share with you our agenda, the idea, the comprehensively crafted packages targeted at the various sections of the publishing industry who we are looking at having with us...

·         Publishers- as GLOBALOCAL specially focuses on bringing national and international publishers in touch, we have very carefully designed the Publisher’s package which is a concept in itself. This package [at Rs 20000] includes an exclusive Table in the Business Centre of the GLOBALOCAL Platform, two entrance tickets into the events [Roundtable discussions, Matchmakings, Rights seminars and Networking party], and five titles in the Rights Catalogue [print and online, which will also be distributed at international Fairs that we attend, e.g., Frankfurt Book Fair]. This package is the ultimate enabler for the GLOBALOCAL participant as they showcase products and hold individual meetings at their table while also attending the various events culminating into the reception on 29th January. Publishers can meet not only international counterparts but also digital service providers, printers and distributors in this forum. Interactions are not just limited to the events but the tea/coffee/lunch breaks between sessions are also fertile ground for carrying forth conversations. The presence made is not only significant but also a marker of being a key player who is open to collaborations and exchanges to further business.

·         Printers – the next in line, in terms of the production process as well, are the printers. As India becomes a hub for international quality printing services [both offset and digital], the importance lent to this section can only be further built on. Printers are invited to register for GLOBALOCAL, a one-off unique B2B platform, offering opportunities for direct interface and networking. As the international publishing community starts to look towards Indian shores for pre-press services, GLOBLOCAL is posited to be the catalyst in making the meeting happen between the international publishers and national printers. Not only is there a targeted matchmaking for this, but other events like the CEOs and STM Roundtable discussions bring to fore the decision makers who are there to network as well. The Service Providers’ package [at Rs 35000]  is a complete showcase opportunity in itself as it includes an exclusive table, two entrance tickets to the events [Roundtable discussions, Matchmakings, Rights seminars and Networking party], and a company profile in the Rights Catalogue [print and online, which will also be distributed at international Fairs that we attend, e.g., Frankfurt Book Fair].

·         Digital Service Providers – this segment of the industry which entails IT enabled pre-press service among other digital offering targeted at the fast-digitizing publishing sector, is one of the focus groups for GLOBALOCAL. While there is marked interest from international publishers in meeting e-pub, pre-press service providers from India, this is an area which more space for direct interaction. And to bring this segment in direct contact with the interested candidates like publishers, GLOBALOCAL has put in place targeted matchmaking, keynote presentations and other events like the CEOs and STM Roundtable discussions highlighting key interest areas and industry players. The Service Providers’ package [at Rs 35000] includes an exclusive table [to hold meetings, showcase product], two entrance tickets to the events [Roundtable discussions, Matchmakings, Rights seminars and Networking party], and a company profile in the Rights Catalogue [print and online, which will also be distributed at international Fairs that we attend, e.g., Frankfurt Book Fair]. This package is aimed at bringing in the service providers in the middle of everything and emphasising their presence as integral to the scheme of things.

·         Book Distributors & Retailers - now we come to the distribution and retail part of the business which is where the book as a product becomes an actual part of the demand and supply chain. The presence of this segment of the industry is critical to any event involving the industry, and knowing this we are inviting distributors and retailers [both on-ground and online, independent and chains] to participate in GLOBALOCAL 2013 which is an industry conclave to bring together the diverse factions and make it the annual networking event to start the year with. The package for the distributors consists of two elements: the entrance ticket to GLOBALOCAL events [at Rs 3000 per person] and for the company profile to be entered into the Rights Catalogue [at Rs 6000].

·         Institutional Buyers – for this group of potential buyers [from libraries, archives, foundations etc.], an event like GLOBALOCAL is an ideal opportunity to meet the right sources of information and products. This section of buyers is thereby invited to be a part of GLOBALOCAL 2013 and be where the action is. The entrance ticket [at Rs 1000 per person] is pegged at encouraging participation and representation from this community which gets to meet and interact with other segments of the publishing industry.
·       Publishing Consultants/Authors/Columnists – considering this group of participants are at the helm of publishing itself, we’d love to have them attend GLOBALOCAL 2013 which remains The Forum for Content. The entrance ticket for them is available at Rs 1000 per person and entitles them to be a part of the GLOBALOCAL events [e.g., the Roundtable discussions with CEOs and STM publishers/service providers, the Rights seminars and also the networking reception].

With the above packages and descriptions in place before you, we’d like to add that the event takes place on 28-29 January, 2013 at the Lalit Hotel in Jaipur. Also, if you still have not registered but have been thinking of doing so, you may write to us [at] with the completed registration form [available at] as soon as possible!