“Book reading habit is all set to increase”
Opines NK Verma, chairman, Diamond Books, in conversation with All About Book Publishing. Most of us have grown up reading books from Diamond Books. Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki, Sabu, Chhota Bheem – all have given wings to the imagination of children since long. Here’s more on this publishing giant. Diamond Group was started by our grandfather in Multan, nearly 80 years ago. After the country’s partition, we came to Delhi and started a book shop namely Punjabi Pustak Bhandar at Dariba Kalan. It was a joint family firm and my father, uncle and cousins took up the business. After exploring the possibilities of publications, we started the publications in Urdu, as Urdu was very popular in those days, by bringing out novel/ stories – Jassosi Panja in 1958.
Very soon, the Hindi version was also started. In 1960 we started publication of books in Urdu with Re 1 series which proved a great start in promoting reading habits all over the country and was widely accepted in the market. This move encouraged us to introduce ten books after every alternate month and within a period of 3 years we started Re 1 series in paperback edition in Hindi also. Very prominent authors such as Gulshan Nanda, Guru Dutt, Sahir, Firaq Gorakhpur, Adil, etc were associated. After this we started a monthly project “Apna Ghar Apni Library Yojna” under which we gave 10 books for Rs. 10 without charging any postage amounting to Rs 2. We made around 25000 members and it was very successful, boosting the readers of books based on fiction & society. With the time, it proved a unique bookshop with the largest variety of Hindi books,” shares NK Verma, chairman, Diamond Books.
Diamond Pocket Books: the journey
“In 1979, the joint family was divided and we started with “Diamond Pocket Books” in Hindi and started publication of general books based on religion, spirituality, health, culture story books, cookery etc. and established ourselves as publisher very soon. We entered in publication of popular characters in comics for children by publishing characters like Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki, Sabu, Chhota Bheem etc among many characters. On the other side, we have also acquired rights for Amar Chitra Katha in Hindi, Phantom, Mendreck, Disney Comics and also started publication in other major Indian languages such as Gujarati, Marathi, Bangla, Tamil, Malayalam besides Hindi.
Our publications – books and comics – became popular in every nook and corner of our country. The price being low, it was within the reach of everyone. Till 1990, the price was Rs 3 per book whether it is novel/story book of about 200 pages, comic of 48 pages. Our publications were available in all the remote corners of India as well,” he adds.
Declining reading habits…
NK Verma, chairman, Diamond Books“With the introduction of colour TV in 1992, and then TV serials, the sales of fiction books came down by 10% and again with the introduction of mobile and 24×7 TV, the reading habits started decreasing and with the introduction of Whatsapp and Facebook, the book readers’ have further reduced by 10%. There is no lust in India for youth to read books or know their culture, etc. Rather they are wasting time on electronic media. As a result, the growth of books has stopped,” feels Verma.
“The digital world is very good because the books are now available on all plates – mobile, computer and all electronic media. One can choose one’s interest of book whether it is international and wherever one is located. This digital media gave development of reading habits in rural area and as well as international arena where books cannot reach because of their location or postage expenses or laziness of the people. Now with facility of making payment by card and getting the book immediately by downloading, this should benefit the readers as well publishers to enter new market,” he shares.
“Now the future of industry is much safer as we think. Reading is a pleasure and one should read without stress. Therefore, we are of the opinion that people will go for reading physical books, even though sale of digital books will also increase. We also feel that sale of general books will increase slowly but steadily and book reading habit will increase,” concludes Verma.