GenX in Publishing!
Filled with innovative ideas, new perspectives, fresh energy… Gen-X publishing professionals are dynamic and eager to take their companies to newer heights. All About Book Publishing met such young professionals in the book publishing industry. Excerpts.
director, Prabhat Prakashan
Prabhat Prakshan was established in 1958 by our father Shyam Sunder. I joined Prabhat Prakashan in 1997. After my MBA, I worked with a German MNC, Siemens Ltd. for two and a half years as a management trainee to gain work exposure. Initially, I was very puzzled working in Prabhat Prakashan since it was a major change in the working style and thought process between Siemens and Prabhat, but once, I took publishing seriously I started enjoying the nitty gritty of publishing, shares Piyush Kumar, an MBA and LLB graduate.
How he took the company forward…
“Prabhat Prakashan was primarily publishing hardbound religious books. The 1960s-70s was a period of top-class literary books and so we published books in non-fiction category as well. Our non-fiction list consisted of a variety of subjects, such as, child psychology, personality development, and military related issues,” tells Piyush. “Then, there was a major shift in the publication pattern in the 90s when reading fiction became a trend.”
“With the advent of the new millennium, Prabhat Prakashan took a major decision by publishing English bestsellers translated into Hindi and paperback editions of the same under the imprint Prabhat Paperback,” he says. “We have published nearly 1000 books in paperback category till date. While, there are 500+ English titles. Combined together, we have a 4,000+ long list of books on our current catalogue in English & Hindi.”
Piyush also started marketing focus for each book for specific markets. He makes optimum use of social media and digital media and puts technology as the game changer in every section of publishing. “Last but not the least, I have tried to put Prabhat Prakashan as a super-brand of Indian publishing,” he adds.
Prabhat Prakshan had the privilege of publishing books by several prime ministers and presidents of India while they were holding their posts. “Other top authors include Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Prem Chand, Vivekananda, Chetan Bhagat, Napoleon Hill, Devdutt Pattanaik, Sania Nehwal, and Nobel Laureates such as Sir VS Naipaul and Mohd Yunus; President of America, Barack Obama; Chanakya, Shilpa Shetty, Sonali Bendre, Twinkle Khanna and prominent authors from West namely, Zig Ziglar, Ram Charan, Jeffrey Archer and Oprah Winfrey,” adds Piyush.
In the last two years, Prabhat Prakashan has taken a new step by publishing e-books for various digital mediums including mobile and Kindle. “We are active on all major e-books selling platforms. Our 1500 English e-book are listed on Kindle,” adds Piyush. “As of now, we are selling approximately 200 printed books daily through online platform and 200 e-books everyday besides our regular sales funnel.”
“Hindi publishing industry has been for ages suffered from a total lack of a professional attitude among management people. At Prabhat Prakashan, we have tried to put best of the management skills in all departments with proper MIS, KRAs & KPIs. Implementation of ERP solutions such as SAP would be our target for year 2017,” shares Piyush. Another challenge he mentions is that all the Hindi booksellers & re-sellers are primarily general booksellers who sell all types of books. “Due to this, they shift their loyalty to other publishers when the payment from one publisher exceeds a limit,” tells Piyush as a matter of fact.
Finding professional editors and proofreaders is also a challenge and Piyush is trying to rope in graduates in Hindi and English languages and training them in-house.
In 1995, we started a monthly magazine ‘Sahitya Amrit’. “It has a circulation of 20,000 copies every month and this magazine has helped in propagating reading habit among the Hindi readers.”
“The Hindi and Indian publishing has a bright future and with the government coming up with educational schemes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and with 900 million people using mobile, the sale of e-books & printed books online is going to increase further,” says Piyush. Talking about his future plans, Piyush adds, “Soon Prabhat Prakashan will foray into competitive books’ market in a big way. We are in the process of getting tie-ups with several international publishers to represent in India.”
“We, at Prabhat Prakashan believe in publishing top of the line authors at lowest possible price to reach our readers by riding the horse of technical horizon,” concludes Piyush.
director, B Jain Group
Homeopathy is not just a business but a passion, for more than four decades at the B Jain group, which has been synonymous with quality in homeopathy needs, from books, journals, magazines, globules, remedy bags, IT, seminars and now high quality medicines. An ISO 9001:2000-certified organization, the company is now ably run by third-generation professionals Nishant and Nitin Jain.
Inception and growth
“The company was started by my grandfather Dr PN Jain in 1966. How the company came into existence is an interesting story. My grandfather left family business and moved to Delhi and joined as a typist in HR Ministry and used to type homeopathic teachers notes in his extra time. Soon, he also started typing homeopathic books in public domain during nights to make a little extra money for his family. His books were available at incredibly low prices. His day-night efforts and the support of his wife Bimla Jain soon took the form of B Jain publishing company. My grandfather was very passionate about his work and soon he made a name for himself in Homeopathy. He was successful in identifying the needs of the doctors and the students and then filling in the gaps. B Jain started publishing more and more books crossing the mark of 100 titles in the first decade itself,” shares Nitin.
“Later, my father, Kuldeep Jain, joined the company in 1976, focusing on both domestic and international sales. My dad helped in bringing in more authors and was instrumental in forming many international tie-ups. He got us an entry into the Spanish market and today, we are the largest Asian publisher in Spain, with 200 books in print in Spanish,” he continues. With the strong insight the group developed into the homeopathic industry, it gradually diversified into other allied fields as well. In 1993, the group started distributing the RADAR homeopathic software in Asia. Today RADAR OPUS is the most advanced and user-friendly homeopathic software and is being used by maximum number of successful homeopaths around the world.
“As a natural progression, my brother Nishant Jain, joined and forayed more into Homeopathy. He focussed his energy on books, software and forward integration into medicines. Today, we have around 2008 homeopathic medicines,” shares Nitin, who joined the family business in 2002.
Diversification and expansion…
“I have been fortunate to have published a variety of genres like mind, body, spirit; self help books, Feng shui, Reiki, etc at the beginning of my career. I attended several international fairs like Frankfurt and London Book Fair and bought several rights and also did some coeditions with major publishers,” he shares.
But, Nitin was not happy to see that in every bookstore, health section is limited to three bookshelves only. He wanted more. “So, I forayed into business books. We did about 50 books; but it was the worst experience of my publishing career. I soon realised that business books sell only from select authors. But, I got a good learning from the whole experience,” he says. “We then ventured into children books and launched 100 books in February 2008. It was a good mix of pre-school, reading and activity books. Our partners in the alternate medicine really helped us and supported our vision of our books. They were so successful that in the first year itself, we started exporting our books to Asia, Africa and Latin America. Since then, there has been no looking back.”
On children book publishing…
Sharing his views on the children books, Nitin believes that books enable cultural exchange and value to a child’s growth. “With advancement of printing technology in India, the children’s book market in India has gone better. Earlier we had very basic books. Illustrated books used to be imported in India and the price used to be high. With advancement of printing, a lot of Indian publishers started publishing good quality books. For children book publisher, export plays a very important role,” he adds.
Challenges in publishing…
Talking about the Indian market, Nitin feels that the biggest disadvantage in India is that the number of book stores v/s the population in India is very less. “Though, with the advent of malls and online bookstores, things have improved,” he shares.
Elaborating further on the challenges he faced, Nitin shares that when he started, finding good content was a challenge, but now, market is the biggest challenge. “As we are skilled in our product, we know our strengths and weaknesses. Anybody can enter the publishing industry, competition is severe,” he clarifies. “We see ourselves as a publisher of content, rather than a publisher of books and that is our USP.”
On books on Homeopathy…
Coming to publishing in Homeopathy, Nitin shares, “Book publishing in this segment is saturated now as the number of colleges remains the same. We have new authors, new principles, and new books; but in terms of market growth, the number of colleges remains the same. Hence, we are foraying into other areas like journals & accessories, software, seminars, workshops and conferences.”
Talking about the digital revolution, Nitin shares that they are already working on online space like different apps for different books. “We also believe that technology is our partner. In homeopathy, we already have apps for doctors, now our focus will be on children apps. We also offer online resource material with our children books, which enable them to see videos and get added knowledge, information and worksheets.”
Encouraging reading habits…
B Jain has a strong belief in giving back to the society. “In 2010, we started Bookings, an exciting story-telling programme to excite children to make them read, wherein the child can learn the power of his /her own visualisation and imagination, which leads to creativity and leadership quality in them. With books, a child can have wings and can dream to be whatever he/ she wants to be,” he concludes.