For the love of literature…

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Literature is evergreen…meet Laure Leroy, directrice generale, Editions Zulma, France, who only publishes literature – some from French authors and others translations from all over the world. We started Zulma in 1991 and it was in 2006 when it came into full swing. We only publish high level literature and we bring out 12 books a year, of which one-third are French literature and two-thirds are translations from all over the world in French language. Few literatures have been translated from languages like Farsi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil, Islamic, Portuguese, Brazil, Hebrew, Japanese, etc, shared Laure Leroy, directrice generale, Editions Zulma, France. In order to ensure that the quality of the books is high, she edits them herself. Besides, Zulma also publishes paperback collections from the last two years. “We publish eight titles a year, half from the backlist and half from other publishers,” she added.

Laure LeroySo how does Laure selects a title for publishing? “I first read it myself and if I love it, I go ahead. It has to be well-written and there should be a real good story. We also take recommendations from the translators, as these are the people who have actually gone into the depths of the books. Besides, book fairs give an opportunity to buy rights and publishers recommendations are also considered,” she replied.

Laure particularly mentioned their bestselling title Rosa Candida for which they have sold 1,00,000 hardbound copies and 2,00,000 paperback copies. Other bestselling titles include Palestina by Hubert Habbard with 65,000 copies and Where the Tigers by Blas de Robles with 70,000 copies sold. Generally, they have a print run of 6,000-10,000 copies, which is then reprinted as per the demand. Coming to Indian authors, Zulma has published three titles each from revered authors Rabindranath Tagore and RK Narayanan. “India was always in my imagination and I wanted to see what is published in regional languages as India has a diverse culture and tradition.

And this diversity is important for rich literature. We hope to publish two collections of stories from Bashir and one from Tamil author Ambai,” she added. Adding more, Laure informed that one of their books has been translated in English for India – Opium Poppy by Hubert Habadda, published by Social Science Press. Talking about the cover design of the books, Laure revealed that they have a very specific design for their books, there are no images on the cover, just a design and the title details. The production quality is very good. “It is a literary object…a work of literature is a promotion in itself. We don’t even put our publisher logo on the cover,” she added.

On asking about the marketing efforts, she replied, “We create a buzz around the book a month to one year prior to its release. This is to create a demand. We want each book to be a success and hence we put in a lot of efforts to select the right title. We have links with 1,000 bookstores in France, of which we enjoy personal links with 400 bookstores.” Enquiring about the online vs offline sales of books, Laure replied that online sales are not much in France as the country has a Unique Price Law (1981), under which every book has to be sold at same price across various channels. “This is to preserve bookstores, both independent as well as chain stores,” she added.

With just a team of seven people, Laure shared that they are not competing with big publishers. “We have a niche of our own and are happy in our space,” she added. In totality, they have 140 titles from 20 different languages and more meaningful literatures will keep adding to their list.

–Varsha Verma

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