“Golden era of Hindi publication has just arrived”

Says Piyush Kumar, Director, Prabhat Prakashan in conversation with All About Book Publishing.

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Prabhat Prakashan has been a trailblazer in literature for more than 60 years. People have grown reading their publications. Embracing the transformation in publication industry that came about with the emergence of Internet, Prabhat Prakashan has further expanded its reach in general. Most of their books on online bookstores find place in the list of bestsellers. Just last year during lockdown, they took people by surprise by launching low-priced e-books on Kindle. And readers also wholeheartedly welcomed these e-books, clocking monthly sales in thousands just on Kindle. After e-books, Prabhat Prakashan created new records in the field of audio books also. Internet has given a fillip to book sales. All About Book Publishing had an opportunity to talk to Piyush Kumar, Director, Prabhat Prakashan, about the six-decades long journey this publication house has traversed.

AABP: Prabhat Prakashan has covered a long distance and has made immense contribution to the publication field. What is your take on the same?

Piyush: Prabhat Prakashan has now entered 63rd year of its journey. A young sapling planted with a mere amount of Rs 200 has grown to a gigantic banyan tree of Hindi publication today. It’s all because of untiring efforts and foresightedness of our father Late Shri Shyam Sundar Ji and his boundless love for Hindi that we are today capable of publishing more than 500 new books every year, an unparalleled feat in India. No other publisher is able to publish so many high quality books in any Indian language in a single year.

These 500 books consist of 400 in Hindi and the rest 100 in English. Besides this, we also publish more than 1500 e-books and more than 100 audiobooks every year. More than 100 updated versions of books are also published every year. We are also soon going to start publication of books in Bangla and Tamil languages. Every year, we publish at least 100 books authored by first time authors.

AABP: What does a publication expect from an author? Similarly, what should an author expect from a publisher?

Piyush: An author usually expects a publisher to ensure that:

  • Advance payments or annual royalties are released on time and transparency is always maintained in royalty details.
  • His book is available in bookstores all across the country.
  • The book is readily available on e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart.

A publisher typically wants an author to ensure the following:

  • The book to be published is absolutely immaculate and artistically outstanding.
  • Manuscript is typewritten and proofread; it should be free from errors.
  • He has followed the publisher’s orthography and style sheet.
  • He allows at least six months’ time for the book to go through publication process.
  • He exercises patience when the book runs out of stock at a particular bookstore for some time.

AABP: Is being a bestseller the only measure of success?

Piyush: Main ingredients of a bestseller are:

  • Plot of the book,
  • Writing style of the author,
  • Goodwill of the author among readers, and
  • Presence of the author in social media.

A book is considered a bestseller only when it sells more than 2000 copies in a year. A bestseller author generates interest among readers who keep enquiring over phone or through emails about his forthcoming titles.

AABP: Audiobooks, along with e-books, are capturing significant share of market. How do you view this?

Piyush: After e-books, audiobooks are now capturing a sizeable market. We have recently signed contracts with 6 large audiobook companies. We have made around 200 audiobooks available for our readers. Today, OTT platforms are also creating their own space. And, some web series are also under development based on our books. This is the first time that books are being released in market even before movies based on the same are produced.

AABP: How much has Internet impacted the book publishing industry?

Piyush: Internet has provided great support to Hindi publication. Number of Hindi readers is rapidly growing on e-commerce platforms. Internet is also helping e-books and audiobooks to expand their reach. Today, we are able to communicate with our readers directly, without depending on bookstores and book fairs.

AABP: What is the greatest challenge as a publisher?

Piyush: The most prominent challenges are:

  • Quality proof-readers and editors
  • Efficient logistics
  • Dwindling demand for Hindi books among readers
  • Regular reviews of books in newspapers and magazines
  • Online and offline marketing efforts.

AABP: How has Hindi translation of books in other languages impacted Hindi writers?

Piyush: We generally publish Hindi versions of books in four main languages – Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati and Bangla. However, cross translation of books in many other Indian languages is still overdue.

AABP: What are your views on crime fiction?

Piyush: There has been rapid boost in people’s interest in crime fiction during the last two-three years. We are also publishing 5 to 7 books in crime fiction this year.

AABP: Share your views on your a monthly magazine ‘Sahitya Amrit’?

Piyush: Sahitya Amrit has been in publication for the last 26 years, uninterrupted. It was founded in 1995 by my father Shri Shyam Sundar Ji, Sanskrit litterateur Pt. Vidya Niwas Mishra and the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. With a circulation of over 10,000 today, Sahitya Amrit has already created a special position for itself. Articles from young promising writers are also published in this magazine.

AABP: Tell us about some extraordinary writers and your personal experience with any specific writer?

Piyush: As such, all our writers are special, but there are some distinguished ones like Swami Vivekananda, Narendra Modi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mahatma Gandhi, Veer Savarkar, Bhimrao Ambedkar, Dr. Abdul Kalam, Mohan Rao Bhagawat, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jaishankar Prasad, Bankimchandra Chatterjee, Lal Krishna Advani, Badrinath Kapoor, Sharatchandra, Premchand, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Vrindavan Lal Verma, Vishnu Prabhakar, Barack Obama, Deepak Chopra and Robin Sharma.

I feel proud to have worked with Dr. Kalam for more than 10 years under author- publisher relationship. We have published over 30 books authored by him.

AABP: Are you satisfied with the reading interest of Hindi readers?

Piyush: Hindi has a long way to go. For some reasons, Hindi book culture has not yet developed. Only 20% job has been completed till now. Hindi is the language of over 60 crore people and we publishers still find it difficult to sell even 1000 copies. Role models would have to launch some massive campaign to develop book culture in the country.

AABP: Tell us something about yourself.

Piyush: I completed my studies in Delhi. Before entering publishing field in 2000, I worked for two years as trainee in a multinational company. Currently, I am identified as a publisher and am working towards bringing further glory and dignity of Hindi. I aim to make books in all other languages and in all subjects readily accessible to Hindi readers.

I enjoy doing Yoga, listening to music and taking long walk. I am blessed with two lovely little daughters and my wife Charu is the strength of my life.

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