GenX in Publishing!
With innovative ideas, new perspectives and fresh energy, secondgeneration professionals join the family business with a novel approach. Backed by precious experiences from their elders, these breed of publishers are more dynamic and eager to take their companies to newer heights. All About Book Publishing (ABP) met three such second-generation publishing professionals who have carved a niche for themselves.
Ajay Mago, publisher,
Om Books International
Ajay MagoOm Book Shop is a part of Om Books International, one of the largest English language trade publishers in the subcontinent and has been a leading force in the Indian book market for several years. Om Book Shop is one of the largest chain of bookstores in Delhi and NCR and has a very well-established domestic and international distribution network.
“When I graduated from US in 1997, Om Books was a hardcore distributor for 58 years. But, we had started a bit of publishing at that time. We were exploring new ideas and we thought of opening a bookstore as being a distributor and importer we knew what sells. Thus, our first store came up in South Ex, New Delhi in December 1999, followed by another one in Vasant Vihar in April 2000. We now have 11 stores across the country and my brother Sanjay and his son Karan Mago are taking care of the bookstores efficiently,” shares Ajay.
But, Ajay did not rest on this; he ventured into serious publishing in 2001. “We started with books on mythology for children, followed by books on cinema in 2006. We published the autobiography of Bollywood heartthrob Shahrukh Khan, which was a major bestseller, with 28,000- 30,000 copies sold. We also ventured into biographies,” he shares.
On asking about the journey so far, Ajay shares that the journey has been phenomenal, though it has also been challenging. “I feel the industry is the best as you get to meet a certain class of people whether you are buying or selling books. It is a very enterprising industry and we need to update ourselves at all times,” he shares.
Talking about the changes in the industry, he says, “When I joined, the industry was big but there were few players and competition was less as there were only 8-10 distributors. Now, everyone is a distributor. The market has grown multi-fold and the biggest challenge is pricing and discount wars. But the trade is definitely moving towards a positive trend.”
On a concluding note, Ajay adds, “People must read and they should go to the bookstore to experience the joy of picking up a book they like.”
SK Kataria & Sons
Sanjeev KatariaS K Kataria & Sons is a well-known publisher of engineering and computer books. Started in 1969 by Late Sushil Kumar Kataria, the publishing house has spread its wings in not only India, but overseas as well. Today, the company is ably run by Sanjeev Kataria, a second-generation professional, who joined the company in 1989. “My father started the business from Ludhiana, where he belonged to, as there was an engineering college there. He added stationery business also, besides offering foreign engineering books.
Later, he started publishing Indian books, which were more student oriented. Soon, he started offering books not only in Punjab, but all over India as well. Later, he started exporting the books,” he said.
As per Sanjeev, he came to Delhi in 1989 and then focussed on publishing books. “When I joined the family business, I faced a lot of problems initially as the industry had just started growing and there were few colleges we catered to. After privatisation of colleges in 2007, the business started growing tremendously. So many new colleges have come up now,” he shared.
Talking about the golden period of their publishing house, Sanjeev remembered that they had a good time between 2007 and 2012. “After this there was a slowdown in the industry and almost every publisher is going through a lean period,’ he added. Adding more about the current market scenario, he shared that the industry is going through a tough time. “E-books have still not picked up in India and print books are facing a decline. The volumes have come down drastically as there is more competition now. But, the business is now bound to grow and digital will have its own share,” he said.
Sanjeev revealed that they are looking to expand into school textbooks segment. “Also, we have brought 40 very good advanced books on engineering from China,” he said. “I love the publishing industry and we will continue to excel in the field of engineering.”
Ankit Vij, group president,
Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers (P) Ltd
Ankit VijEstablished in 1969, Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers remains every doctor’s trusted education resource for all his/her professional life – be it undergraduate, postgraduate, ward round handbooks or the professional and reference books for practitioners.
“Jaypee is more or less a 50-year-old company, started by my grandfather Late Sohan Lal Vij, and later was taken over by my father Jitender P Vij. My father joined the business when he was just 18 years old and the company had just 3 titles at that time. Today, the company has 3000 titles. Since, my father has been involved into the business so much that his product knowledge is impeccable. Infact, he is a walking encyclopedia for medical publishing industry,” tells Ankit proudly.
Talking about his stint with publishing, Ankit shares that he has also been involved with the business since a very young age. “I was in 12th standard when I went for an Opthalmology Congress in Stockholm. Publishing is in my blood. I have never ever focused on doing anything else.” Ankit is a graduate in publishing from Oxford Brookes and masters in management from Imperial. He has also worked with Elsevier (2006) and Hodder Education in London for some time in 2007.
But, Ankit always made it a point to learn the nuances of publishing industry, whenever he was home. “I tried to relate our systems with the ones followed in developed countries and tried to customize them to implement in India,” he shares. “I joined the family business full fledged in September 2010 as manager – production cycle, which I still continue to do.”
Talking about the challenges he faced, Ankit shares that it was not easy to manage 200 people and then the Indian publishing industry does not allows many changes.
Sharing the best changes he made in his company, Ankit shares that they now use Hardik ERP system. “It is not a perfect solution, but it is not expensive and can be customised as per my needs,” he adds. Secondly, Ankit enhanced the sales team with product knowledge, know-how and reporting systems. “Social media has a big impact and we have a dedicated team for the same,” he adds.
“Undergraduate students are our core base as 60% of the sales come from them. So, through social media, we keep them engaged.”
Ankit also shares that their pharma business has grown twofolds in the last 2-3 years. “I don’t have a major role, but with new products coming in, I am getting more involved now,” he says. Infact, Ankit goes a step further in checking that all his systems are in place. Sometimes, he even places an order from his own website to see how the product is delivered and in what condition, so that improvements can be made to all systems. “Little things make a big impact,” he says.
Talking about the industry then and now, Ankit shares that there was a lot of direct selling happening in the 1990s. “Booksellers were placing bulk orders to get maximum discount. This is not happening any more. This is because we have logistics operations in all the major cities, so they do not need to stock much. But, print runs have to be managed accordingly. We earlier printed 50,000 copies, but now print 20,000 copies initially and then go for a reprint. Another change is that our debtors are now coming down, but turnaround time is 6-7 months. Also online booksellers like Amazon are a boon for us,” he reveals.
Sharing his views on epublishing, he says, “Digital publishing has a bright future in India but it will always complement the print book. With electronic content, reader can buy chapters, which is a good trend. But, the infrastructure needs to be improved in order to use ebooks.”
On asking about their future plans, Ankit shares, “We want more market share and we are open to acquisitions. We have a core list of products and we would like to focus on them. We are also relying on government to open more colleges so that our sales increase.”
“My leadership mantra is to work with the team, understand their grievance and convince them to do it my way. We want to keep growing in the medical publishing and focus on this segment only,” concludes Ankit.