Archive for the ‘Industry – Book Publishing’ Category

Writers prefer agents instead of publishers

July 17, 2008

When Ernest Hemmingway set out to get his first novel The Torrents of Spring printed it was rejected a number of times by many publishers, including his first US publisher Boni and Liveright. But he never gave up and finally found a publisher — Scribner’s — in 1926.

One of the most important thing that most people would like to do is get down to write their own book and see it in print. It is believed that publishing your book is one of the most desirable things for most human beings that they want to do in their lifetime. But making a book into a reality also happens to be one of the most difficult tasks for writers across the world.

Today the writers are preferring agents instead of directly approaching the publishers. Budding writers opine that they can do their best as writers. But they do not know how they can find a publisher who would be interested in their work. They find that publishing is getting complex and they are not capable of dealing with the publishers on their own. They also need to think in global context. They need an agent who will allow them to concentrate on their creative strengths than do all the paperwork.

Agents feel that it is probably the best time to be a literary agent as the industry is on a growth path. Literary agents have worked with publishers before they went on their own. These are the people that can give the best deals to their authors. Most authors that have made it big in the international markets have done it through agents.

Karthika, a publisher and editor of Harper Collins, feels the emergence of agents in India is a new phenomenon and is helping the publishing industry. More importantly, she feels that most of the agents have a publishing background and they understand the needs of the publisher as well as the author.” Agents have existed before in India. But they were handful. Today the emergence of literary agencies actually shows us that the potential for this market is huge.” She is publishing Land Of The Well by Sampoorna Chatterjee.

Though literary agencies are new to the Indian publishing market, the entire industry as such feels that it is the one missing link between authors and publishers in India.

The estimated market for popular books (fiction and non-fiction) is put at around Rs 1,000 crore and this market is expected to double in seven years. Since the industry operates like a cottage industry, publishers do not like to share information with each other. Thus any kind of numbers about the publishing industry are always debated.
Organised retail is estimated to be around 15% of the total sales and the rest of the data for the industry is not tracked or not shared by publishers. The emergence of literary agents is expected to change all that as this is one tribe that is expected to build discipline in the industry.

But more than getting new authors, agents are busy capturing the local flavors. They feel that there is huge potential for the market for translations. Though the translation market from regional language to English has much potential, there are some who want to translate English books into regional languages as well.

Today, the market for Indian books is dominated by imports. In any major bookstore, about 65-75% of the stock is imported. Local publishing has tremendous scope and this is demonstrated by books like Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat. Most publishers are looking for books in a similar genre before they jump into the translation bandwagon. But growing the local market is a challenge.

Since agents are becoming an important part of the publishing world, everything from finding the right authors for a particular genre to the pricing of books is expected to change. Initially, this tribe is concentrating on servicing the authors than anything else.

(Source: The Economic Times)

Something about Publishing industry

June 19, 2008

Over the years, I have come across many people who need information about publishing industry.

Mr. David Davidar began his career in journalism and is founder of Penguin Books India. Currently, he is Publisher of Penguin Canada and also is author of the novel, The House of Blue Mangoes.

Following Interview with David Davidar, Publisher, Penguin Canada by Sharif Khan will be very useful to many:

How did you first get started in the publishing business?

Twenty years ago I was working in Bombay and there was a colleague I knew who had done a publishing course at Harvard. And she said, “Why don’t you go there and check it out?” So I came to the States, and I did the course, and at the course was Peter Mayer, Chairman of Penguin world-wide. He said, “Look you’re from India?” (I said “yeah”). He said he was thinking of starting a company in India and asked me, “Would you like to run it?”

I was then twenty-six years old, I’d never done a publishing company in my life, I had little or no idea, but when you’re twenty-six years old sometimes you’re foolishly confident about your abilities, so I said “yes.”

I went to Delhi where the office was going to be and I had never been there before, starting from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Delhi – and there was nothing there. There were exactly 3 employees in the first year of operations and they invested ten thousand US dollars in the company in 1986. And that was it.

Now Penguin India is Asia’s largest English publishing company and has done over 10 million dollars in sales. It was quite an interesting experience and I had a ball! It kept growing and growing. It’s so fascinating…Now every multinational is in India. Penguin was the first.

To read the full interview, please visit