Book distribution is a noble profession and not a business for us
shares Ramesh K Mittal, director, DK Agencies (P) Ltd. Besides taking care of book distribution and publishing under their Lifi Publications imprint, they also run a charitable clinic, a physiotherapy centre, and a library, besides offering rent-free accommodation to a post office in West Delhi. Here’s more on this bigwig. Ramesh K Mittal needs no introduction to the publishing industry. He is director of DK Agencies (P) Ltd, a well-known distributor of books and MARC records. Starting as a bookseller, supplying back volumes of Indian journals to libraries or booksellers abroad, way back in 1968, DK Agencies has made a mark for themselves. DK Agencies was commenced by Ramesh’s father late Khazan Chand Mittal. The name DK stands for the initials of his grandfather Dwarka Das (D) and father Khazan Chand Mittal (K). Soon after, they initiated into selling of books as well, but restricted themselves to research books only. In the early 1980s, they began to catalogue Sanskrit books as well. “After a couple of years, we started dealing in Tibetan language books and from the beginning of this century 14 Indian languages (Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Sindhi) and Nepali were added to the cataloguing profile” adds Ramesh.
Today, DK has a sprawling facility of 15,000 sq ft area in New Delhi, which houses more than 60,000-70,000 different titles at any point of time. The storage of these titles is very appealing. All hardbound titles are shrink-wrapped whereas paperbacks are shrink-wrapped with a cardboard on its back side to avoid wear and tear.
The year 1971 was also a landmark year in the history of DK; as this was the year when the second line of business started for DK.
“Initially, all this cataloguing data was made available on printed cards. But, seeing the computerised cataloguing system in the western world, we dreamt of making it computerised. “ With due help from our customers, we were successful in developing MARC (Machine Readable Catalogue) software in-house and started using it in 1995-96,” Ramesh updates.
Today, DK uses MARC 21 cataloguing system, which is specially made for the 21st century and is internationally accepted in major English speaking countries. Besides, they also follow Anglo American Cataloguing Rules, together with Library of Congress Subject Headings, DDC and LC classification schemes. The records are made available to customers free of charge along with the books as a value added service.
Thus, DK offers not just books, but also MARC data to libraries and consortiums of libraries abroad. Last, 7-8 years have seen their foray into retro conversion services, wherein they provide cataloguing service for libraries for old books. “We are more of a service-oriented organization and all the advanced countries (numbering to 80) are our clients,” adds Ramesh. Moreover, they provide CIP (Cataloguing in Publication) data as a free service to Indian publishers.
Besides, Ramesh also takes care of a family charitable trust started by late Khazan Chand Mittal, under which they run a clinic, a physiotherapy centre, and a public library in the name of his mother Leela Devi Public Library. “Our physiotherapy centre serves 60-100 patients every day. While, our library houses 60,000 books, besides subscribing to 30 newspapers of all over India, and 70-80 magazines. We also house regional language books and newspapers. Our library sees both young and old readers. While the young readers look for making notes from books, adults come here to read newspapers. Since our library is falling short of space, we are expanding it to another floor soon,” says Ramesh.
Another noble initiative by them include is providing almost rent-free accommodation to post office over the years which is now known as DK Post Office in Mohan Garden (West Delhi).
So what keeps Ramesh going? “I live in the knowledge world, which keeps adding to my knowledge every minute, this is what inspires me the most,” concludes Ramesh.