“New paradigms of book selling emerged in Covid times”

says Kannan Sundaram, Publisher & Managing Director at Kalachuvadu Publications Pvt Ltd, in conversation with AABP.

During Covid times, we worked on digitising the books into ebooks and audio books. We have also focused on supplying our books to readers internationally with print on demand companies. We hope the investment we have made on these new paradigms of book selling will continue to yield results in the long run as well.

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Kannan SundaramKalachuvadu means “Time’s footprints” in Tamil. Since 1995, Kalachuvadu Publications (KP) has not only blazed the trail for the finest in contemporary Tamil writing but also brought the best of world literature in translation to the doorstep of the discerning Tamil reader.

In a brief conversation with AABP, Kannan Sundaram, Publisher & Managing Director at Kalachuvadu Publications Pvt Ltd, shares more about their publishing house.

The titles galore…

With a list of over 979 titles, KP has a vibrant and vital presence in the landscape of Tamil and Indian publishing. KP’s writers include the award-winning Ambai, G. Nagarajan, Ashokamitran, Devibharathi, P.A. Krishnan, Perumal Murugan, Salma and Sundara Ramaswamy. KP’s chronological variorum editions of acclaimed Tamil modernists set the benchmark for other publishers. Also well-regarded is KP’s bestselling series of academic titles noted for their relevance, readability and lightly worn erudition.

“We publish around 70 titles every year and all these books are in Tamil. Our books are read by a cross section of several classes and generations of people. More and more youngsters are now buying our books, which is a positive sign,” added Kannan.

On translations…

KP is known for quality translations of literature across the world. On asking about the countries they buy rights from, Kannan replied, “We buy rights from different countries like France, Welsh, Spain, Paraguay, Turkey, Taiwan, Israel, Iceland. Finland, Flanders, Australia, U.K., U.S.A., Ireland, Sri Lanka, Norway, Portuguese, Sri Lanka(Sinhala), Argentina, Canada, Island, Russia and Latvia.”

Some of their bestselling translations include One Hundred Years of Solitude (Thanimaiyin Nooru Aandukal) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, My Name is Red (En Peyar Sivappu) by Orhan Pamuk and The Old Man and the Sea (Kizhavanum Kadalum) by Ernest Hemingway.

Selling rights…

KP also sells their rights to translation in different languages. For example, their English rights are sold for countries like U.S.A., U.K. and India. “Our books have also been translated into German, Galician, French, Korean, Czech, Polish, Kosova( Albanian), Sri Lanka( Sinhala), Hebrew, Chinese, Turkey and Italian,” told Kannan.

Bestsellers…

Some of their bestsellers include Oru Puliya marathin Kathai by Sundara Ramasway (1,25,000 copies), Mathorupagan by Perumalmurugan (25,000 copies), Amma Vanthal by Thi. Janakiraman (25,000 copies), Vekkai by Poomani (20,000 copies) and Vadivasal by Si.Su. Chellappa (50,000 copies).

Impact of Covid…

“In Tamil Nadu the book industry is very much dependent on the book fair culture. Every month one or two book fairs are organised across the state. These amount to roughly 50% of the retail sales of publishers. During the Covid period, book fairs stand cancelled for the whole accounting year. This is a big minus for the industry,” tells Kannan.

But, this did not stop KP from reaching out to its readers. “We developed direct marketing strategies to reach out to the readers in this phase. We worked on digitising the books into ebooks and audio books. We have also focused on supplying our books to readers internationally with print on demand companies. We hope the investment we have made on these new paradigms of book selling will continue to yield results in the long run as well,” concluded Kannan.

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