GenX in Publishing!

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 one such young professional in the book publishing industry. Excerpts.

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Esha Chatterjee
CEO,
BEE Books

Bee Books has an entire range of books, from fiction to non-fiction, classics to popular contemporary writing, from comics to graphic novel and studio books. “Through our books we hope to inspire creativity, spread awareness, bring clarity of thoughts and make people happy,” tells Esha Chatterjee, CEO, BEE Books. “We have two publishing houses — Patra Bharati which started 38 years ago, focuses on Bengali books and BEE Books which was started in the year 2014, focuses on English language books.”

“Although the language and editorial set up is completely different, the vision remains the same. We always want to publish good stories…stories from different parts of Bengal and India and the world (through translations). Another aim to bring out well produced books which show the effort that has gone behind them. Our philosophy will always remain to provide a wide range of books, satisfy our readers and make our authors more reachable,” tells Esha.

Challenges & trends in publishing…

“I think the primary challenge in today’s time is information overload and hence the decrease in the attention span. A significant challenge which we see is getting the attention of the reader and making an impact, which would eventually convert to book sales. This trend also justifies the fact that either a book is a bestseller or it does not sell at all,” shares Esha.

“The other would be rising piracy. PDFs on the internet, specially for the regional languages, whose books are less available compared to the English language publishing, across the world. Even reputed online platforms have sellers who sell pirated copies at a cheaper price, listed with the originals,” she adds.

Another challenge Esha thinks is to publish stories which keep up with the trend on the digital audio visual platform. “This also includes the look and feel of a book, the cover, the binding, how light the book is and how easy is the font on the eyes. That to a large extent drives a reader to buy a book, specially for a new author. We put in a lot of time to decide the target readers, price range and size of a book. Middle class India is slowly changing and nuclear families have more disposable income, so they mostly would pay a little extra for the feel good factor of a book,which is a remarkable change,” she adds.

“Lastly I would mention the various platform and mediums of storytelling. This variety and option is drawing the readers away from books but not storytelling. So our next focus is to tap this and create something that makes reading easier,” tells Esha.

Changing trends in book selling…

“Earlier, there were more bookshops, lesser commissions to distributors and more books sold across all genres. Now with changing times and online availability of hard copy books, heavy discounts are always a difficulty, resulting in smaller bookshops to close down or keep more stationaries and merchandises. The concept of a community bookstore is changing. It is becoming non existent. Only the bigger book store chains are running,” tells Esha.

On book distribution…

“Distribution of books in India is a tragic story. Most of the distributors filter away half of the good titles and they never see the light of a bookstore and never get a place on the shelves. I remember one of them telling me “If our sales targets are achieved by the bestsellers, why would we make an effort to push other titles?”Personally speaking, I hope this trend changes and the latent need for a better distribution system comes up in India, where good books will reach bookstores and in turn the readers,” she says.

Going digital…

“I believe India will see a boom in internet usage,which means that the digital world will have a higher impact and a more widely reached impact. If used cautiously as a medium for promotion and advertisement, it should aid in book buying.The other impact we see is readers wanting more control over selection and purchase. A set up where they know what exactly they are buying and when it will arrive. They can track the delivery and at times, even read a part of the book before buying. This change is world wide and completely a result of online platforms. We feel this habit will last and we are looking at ways to tap this behaviour,” she shares.

Road ahead…

“We organise Bengali Literature Festivals in Kolkata which we will be taking abroad next year. As for our Kolkata Literature Festival, where I am in the organizing committee, we have some interesting plans for the upcoming edition in February 2019,” tells Esha.

“As for publishing, the future looks promising, if we can cope up with the changes and challenges that come our way. We have older more experienced people in our company with new young people, who bring in new perspectives on book buying habits. We will explore newer avenues for both our companies, BEE Books and Patra Bharati, which not only include bringing in more International literature into English and Bangla, but to also focus on more illustration based storytelling. We are slowly stepping into e-books in Bengali and we plan to launch audio books and interactive videos in Bengali and English,” tells Esha.

“Story telling through books will always stay. Only medium of selling will keep changing,” concludes Esha.

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