Language publishing: doorway to rich literature…

Regional publishing has been the heart of the industry with the aim that a good book should not be missed by reader under the pretext that language was the barrier. Janani Rajeswari. S spoke to a couple of regional publishers to find out the current scenario in language publishing.

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Indian language publishing is now getting its share of recognition. With so many translations happening by mainstream publishers as well, the industry is definitely growing. But, language publishing has its own limitations and challenges. Here’s more.

Rama Meyappan
Binu Anamangad
Muhsin C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouraging new writing…

Rama Meyappan, Publisher & Editor, NoolKudil, Chennai, shares, “The whole idea behind starting NoolKudilin 2020 was to encourage next generation writers in Tamil. Today’s readers are interested in existing literature and in welcoming new ideas and thoughts. NoolKudil looks at reaching out to such readers catering to their reading taste.” He adds that this also brings the point of how a new writer’s work will be accepted by the audience. So, he says that they print only around 1000 copies to monitor the response to the author’s work.

Binu Anamangad, Writer and Publisher, Green Pepper Publica, Kozhikode, started the publishing house in 2014. In the early days, Binu reveals how the books were available in bookstalls in 14 districts of Kerala. “But I did not make profits through them. So, we decided to go completely online, within the first year,” she explains.

Muhsin C, CEO/Executive Editor, Olive Publication Pvt. Limited,has more than 3000 titles to their credit. Calicut Olive Publishing House is celebrating its 25th year in the industry.

Bridging the gap between authors and publishers…

Meyappan feels that there still remains a wide gap between authors and publishing houses in today’s world. A good author finds it difficult to find a good publisher and vice versa. He adds that at ‘NoolKudil’, they would like to bring out more books of budding authors. He also says, “If the Government could provide support (financially or otherwise) in bridging the gap between the authors and the publishing houses, it could definitely help the publishing world flourish.”

Responsibility of the publishers…

“With the growing number of writers, I feel the responsibility of the publishers has increased. Without looking at publishing from a business perspective, one needs to be very choosy and careful about what we offer to our readers: good literature that can have a positive impact on the society,” says Meyappan. So, NoolKudil looks at bringing out limited number of books every year to ensure the quality of literature produced.

While, Binu points out that Green Pepper Publica also joined the league of self-publishing. “We take up a part of printing cost. But, with self-publishing, there is a greater responsibility to ensure that we are producing good content as the brand of the publishing house is associated with it, explains Binu.
Similar views were shared by Muhsin, who points out how ‘Vanity publishing’ is quite a common feature in the Malayalam publishing industry. “This would mean that the author would pay for getting his/her work published. This is definitely affecting the publishing industry by way of quality of the content,” he says. He adds that effective quality check of the content helps in picking out the select good authors, or even newbies.

Foray into audio books and e-books

“With the increasing printing costs, we felt this would be a good way to make our content available online through audio books and e-books,”shares Muhsin. With the new generation going online, the move seemed justified. He also puts forth the request that if the government could support the publishing industry by reducing the GST applicable on the printing process, it would definitely go a long way for the industry.

Impact of Covid-19…

“In January 2020, we released our first book ’24 Carat Vaazhkai’. This was followed by a lockdown owing to rise in COVID-19 cases,” says Meyappan. He adds that during that period, visiting bookstores not being an option, online ordering of books through websites such as Amazon and Flipkart became more popular. This period also saw the growth of new writers and self-publishing.
Following the COVID-19 period and lockdown and owing to financial issues, Binu says that they now focus on online marketing through Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Flipkart and online bookstores.

Social media presence and limitations…

Social media has been of great help in times of the COVID-19 lockdown and thereafter. According to Binu, after the lockdown period, bookfairs did not see many visitors. “During Covid-19, the buying capacity of people was less but they began buying books through social media,” she adds. However, Binu feels that social media marketing has its own share of limitations. “No doubt that social media is only helping us in marketing. But I still think that there are fewer audience for our books online.”

Need of the hour…

Muhsin explains how in today’s age anyone could become a publisher or start a publishing firm. “Everyone can become a publisher. One needs to get the firm registered and secure an ISBN.” He adds how smaller cities in Kerala have 100+publishing houses in recent times. “In olden times, it was a good thing as budding publishing houses commissioned some very good writing, which were not chosen by Corporate houses.” There are hardly any rules to govern starting a publishing house, which is probably the need of the hour.
He also points out how there is a need for a certain amount of professionalism among people who are into editing books. “I have noticed that people who are hired to edit book have a background in journalism, mass communication and so on. But editing books is very different from the editing process in the journalism field,” he adds.

Quality translation work…

Meyappan adds that ‘NoolKudil’ will foray into translating books into Tamil early next year. He adds that finding good translators is indeed a challenge. He also adds that good translators also require a higher remuneration for the work done, which could be quite a task in case of smaller publishing houses. “It would be great if the Government could help us by way of loans at lower rates to support good literature being translated into Tamil,” he concludes.

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