Gen-X in Publishing!
a second generation professional joins the family business with a novel approach. Backed with precious experience from their elders, they are more dynamic and eager to take their companies to newer heights. ABP met three such secondgeneration professionals in book publishing industry, who have carved a mark for themselves. Anuj Chawla, director,
Anuj ChawlaEstablished in 1986, Dreamland Publications is a leading publishing house for children’s literature. Special attention is given to all aspects of publishing – the authors of these books are experienced teachers/ educationists, the books are designed by the most renowned artists of India and are printed on 4-colour printing machines, using state-of-the-art technology.
Anuj Chawla, the second generation professional, joined the family business in 2008. “After attending a few international fairs, I got the international outlook and we adopted the international format so that our books were accepted in countries like Malaysia and Brazil. Later, we came up with rainbow products which have a worldwide appeal and are accepted in other countries like Africa, China as well. Today our publishing house is truly global, with world level products.
We offer personalised products to 40 countries. For example, in Saudi Arabia, pigs are not used in books while in Malaysia use of dogs in books in restricted. So, we personalise books according to the country as well,” shares Anuj. On asking about the vision and mission of the company, Anuj replies that it has been the same over the years – to provide quality children books at best affordable prices. “But, as time progresses, the methods to achieve it has changed as technology has changed so much. We are now looking at print on demand and value additions in printed products,” he adds.
So, did Anuj always wanted to join the family business? To this, he replies, “I knew from day 1 that my ultimate goal is to join the production department and also do a bit of sales. Infact, I started coming to office since 2005 when I was still in college. To be well versed with technological developments, I visit a lot of foreign countries. I have been attending international book fairs like Frankfurt Book Fair for the last 10 years. I see what’s happening worldwide and try my best to bring the same concept, comparable in quality and content for the Indian market at affordable prices and I like what I do.”
Anuj particularly mentions their bestsellers like activity books, early learning books and more recently the adult colouring books, which are at par with international quality. On asking about the popularity of adult colouring books in India, Anuj replies that the acceptability is still low in India but it will gradually emerge as a good stress buster for Indians.
Talking about the challenges he faced in his publishing journey, Anuj replies that he has learned on the job. “Whenever something new comes up, it is a challenge but that’s the nature of the business. On his views of ebooks, Anuj says that the ebook fad has come down and print is again the king. “ebook is an addition, not a replacement,” he shares.
Soon, Dreamland is looking at bringing out textbooks for schools. Talking about his future plans, Anuj shares that he hopes Dreamland Publications to have a strong foothold in the children publishing category. “We wish to be among the top 10 children publishing companies around the world,” he hopes.
Saurabh Gupta, managing director,
Saurabh GuptaLaxmi Publications is a privately held publishing company headquartered in New Delhi. Since its inception in 1974, it has grown tremendously as one of the leading publishers of STM, management, engineering, computer science & IT, College, English language & literature, school and children books, in India and abroad. The organization has grown both organically and through acquisitions and strategic partnerships.
Talking about the vision and mission of the company, Saurabh Gupta, managing director, Laxmi Publications, says, “We are originally the education publishers and we are still one of the leading publishers in this category. Our main focus has been to offer quality products and expand our market overseas. We are doing good business in Africa and are trying to build our brand across the globe as much as possible.”
“Am a third-generation in publishing; my father Rajendra Kumar Gupta (president of Federation of Education Publishers in India) was responsible for tremendous growth and I took over the business in 2001,” he shared.
Sharing the challenges he faced, Saurabh replied that it is the attitude towards work. “I have studied and worked in US and I see a drastic difference in how people work. Here, people do not care about meeting the deadlines and right people with right skillset are not available in the publishing industry. But, we have learnt how to motivate people and get things done efficiently, he said.
“Then there is lot of cut-throat competition and commitment failures in the industry. Ten years back, market was not fully developed but now, things are different. Margins have shrunk, there is less liquidity and cost of raw materials has increased and so sustainability is the major issue. Earlier, we worked on top-ofthe- line margins, but now we work on bottom lines”, he said.
Talking about the future plans, Saurabh shared that they are looking at diversifying into primary, middle schools and children trade books. We are trying to grow vertically as far as range of products are concerned and we are also trying to increase our footholds in overseas countries like US (through joint venture in higher education segment), Africa (through ministries by offering customised books for schools) and South East Asia (through booksellers by offering children books).
On asking about his views on epublishing, Saurabh replied that the segment is still in the nascent stage in India and it is yet to pick up, though it has made an impressionable mark in western countries. “We have also invested into Liqvid that is a leader in digital English Language,” he added.
“I see a significant growth in school segment only as higher education has seen a drop of 40% in last year and we do not expect it to grow this year. So, we are focusing on children trade books and school segment,” he said. As an advice to fellow publishers, Saurabh said that it is important to focus on bottomlines and keep your team motivated at all times.
Nipun Gupta, PM Publications
Nipun GuptaWe started way back in 1936-37 as Dehati Pustak Bhandar. We divided from this firm in late 1970s. In 1974, my grandfather’s (Thandi Ram Gupta) brother founded Pustak Mahal. In 2011, PM Publications was established. We own the rights for Rapidex Hindi speaking course. In August 2015, we have recently launched a new children brand called Kidz Factory,” told Nipun Gupta, who joined the family business in 2013. Since the time Nipun joined the company, they have published around 500 titles. “At PM Publications, our vision is to offer children, general and competitive books at low costs and we firmly believe that there is no recession in the publishing industry. Publishers who are looking at high margins are suffering from low volumes,” he shared.
Talking further on the market, he added, “Earlier there was less competition in the industry. Now, many distributors have also turned into publishers and there are many common topics on which there are many books available from different publishers. Now, the challenge is to get the shelf space amidst so much competition. People read books in their leisure time only; and not like newspapers and magazines. Price is also a main criterion when they buy books.”
Discussing more on the present market scenario, Nipun shared that each segment of industry has different seasons – for example, there is a different season for school and competition books. Hence, publishers try to publish a diversified range of books to have business all around the year.
Coming back to PM Publications, Nipun shared, “We bring 150 titles every year. We have around 1000 distributors and retailers with which we deal regularly and 700-800 accounts which we deal once in a year. We also have an office in Bihar also, which handles exports in Nepal and Bhutan. Our books are also exported to countries like Saudi Arabia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka through exporters.” PM Publications is also gearing up for digital books and they have many titles in Hindi language for mobile.
Talking about their future plans, Nipun shared, “We are focusing on the Indian market and are starting publishing in 11 languages (Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Urdu, Bengali, Assamese, etc) in our Kidz Factory brand. All our titles will be published in Marathi. We are also planning to venture into distance-learning books by August 2016. Besides, we are planning to open a south regional branch in Mangalore by this year end.”