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. Mudit Mohini Vishv Books
Vishv Books is an associate company of Delhi Press Group, publishers and owners of 32 magazines in 9 languages. The group enjoys a strong reach in all regions of the country. Established in 1939, the group runs some of the largest-selling magazines such as The Caravan, Sarita, Mukta, Champak, Grihshobha, Woman’s Era, Suman Saurabh and Saras Salil.
Mudit Mohini joined the family business in 2003. “At that time, there were very few Indian children books publishers. But now, as designing has become easier, there are lot many people who are getting into publishing. The illustrations and presentation have become better than before. Besides, with new technology, everyday, one has to be on their toes to look for better methods to design as well as market books,” she shared. But, one thing that perturbs her is that though parents are becoming more aware about the importance of books, they are still not able to help to shape their kids into readers.
Vision and philosophy: quality books at affordable rates
“Our main aim, at Vishv Books, is to create good quality books for children at affordable rates. Education and values are the tools which can transform young minds into catalysts of economic progress and social change. This belief and our invariant love for children, drive us to publish numerous titles of children’s books every year. We put in lot of thought in creating every single title,” tells Mudit.
Talking further, she said, “However cliché it may sound, our foremost aim is to create love for reading and education in this country and to inculcate values and empathy among our young readers. At the same time, we want our products to have international quality in terms of content, designing as well as production. So we try not to compromise on any front.”
“Our main objective is that each child has access to books, both schools as well pleasure reading; in the most remote corners of India as well as world,” she added.
“We are among very few publishing houses that lay equal emphasis on academic as well as leisure-reading children’s books. Academic publishers are didactic at times and lean towards preachy content. But they have better understanding about the age appropriateness when it comes to knowledge based content as well as vocabulary. General books publishers sometimes lean towards creativity and newness. In bargain, books are very complex or lack right age appropriate vocabulary and design. We merge both these. In our academic books, we tend to add creativity and try to take untested path. When it comes to general books, not only our stories and illustrations are creative and unique but we are also careful with grading the books according to age, interest and vocabulary,” she said.
Talking about the challenges faced, Mudit said, “The market is becoming too competitive where focus is more on discount than actual value of the book. Publishers are ready to offer insane discounts, as a result lot of good books are not able to reach the readers because of lesser discounts.” Another challenge she enumerated is the distribution system, which is totally unorganised. “Moreover, the deciding authorities are sometime totally clueless about right content,” she added.
“Then being a woman publisher, there are lot more challenges from all corners – be it distributors, schools or your own staff. There is constant juggling of work-home balance,” she added.
Innovations @ Vishv Books
“Though our main focus is on school curriculum books but we are extensively investing in creating unique children books like pop-up books, concertina books which not only make books visually appealing but make reading a pleasure activity. We are helping schools in creating classroom libraries so that more and more children start reading at very young age,” she shared.
Truths about digital…
On asking about her view on the digital era, Mudit replied, “There is no doubt that digital world is the future and it is necessary to keep pace with technology and adopt things which can help enhance the quality as well as experience between the book and the reader. But it is still very unorganised and scattered. The technology is moving with such a fast pace that if one makes one style of digitalization; in no time, it becomes obsolete. But everyone is gearing up for the digital market and converting their printed versions to digitalised version. We too have books in digital format – both, story books as well as some of our academic books.”
“Physical books are here to stay for but even if technology takes over, the scope for content writing as well as designing will still remain. Only the communication medium will change,” she added as a matter of fact.
The road ahead…
“Though it is becoming crowded in this industry, the children book publishing is the most lucrative as well satisfying area to be in. It is very tough for an Indian publisher to make a mark in this area, but it’s a growing area as we have ever growing children population,” opines Mudit.
“With a complete range of award winning school textbooks and curriculum supportive books for Kindergarten to Class 8, we focus on creating books with an interdisciplinary learning approach and a robust pedagogy designed to build lifelong skills. Apart from India, marketing and distribution of our books extend to other parts of the world such as South East Asia, Europe, USA, Africa and Mexico. We actively participate in all the major book fairs held around the world. Our books have been prescribed by many schools across the world. We have sold rights even for language textbooks. Again, we also have a wide variety of award winning general books, which include picture-story books, short story books, colouring books, art and craft books, model-making books, and three-dimensional books like pop-up books, all well-known for their designing and quality. A result of creative thinking and commitment to excellence, our books span multiple difficulty levels and help develop thinking skills,” concluded Mudit.
Outreach officer, Niyogi Books
Niyogi Books with the tagline ‘Fine Publishing Within Reach,’ succinctly yet very aptly, describes their vision. Since the very inception of the publishing house in the year 2004, they have strived to publish the highest quality of books on wide range of subjects at an affordable price and make them easily available to all. Trisha Niyogi is a second generation professional to join the family business.
Vision & Mission: Well researched, well produced books
“We have come to an age, where scholarship cannot be restricted to the elite. We strive to bring forth such scholarly works to a wider readership. Today, people want to know more and we believe they should never be restricted by unavailability. They must get to read any subject they can think of,” tells Trisha. “We focus on innovation in content & design, which is at par with any publishing house of repute in the world. We also take extreme care of the production of our books to match the international standard and appeal.”
“We strive to produce books on subjects, which may be known superficially. We try to bring depth into our books through thorough research. We are also quite critical of not missing out any piece of information on any subject in the book. As an example, Horse Racing in India, which is the only comprehensive book on Horse Racing in the country took eight years to be completed,” she shares.
Talking about the challenges faced, Trisha feels that the greatest challenge faced by a publishing company, like theirs, is how to channelize the tremendous creative energy that the Indian writers are demonstrating on all fronts. “It is like an explosion. One is totally amazed to find how many people are researching and writing on a large extent of subjects with so much passion. While the passion is pure, the expression does not always match the intention. There, as a publisher, we are able to help them channelize their thought and expression and work towards curating a perfect book. To meet this challenge, we employ the most well-equipped & talented in-house editors and designers and give them total freedom to work, with the only very clear instruction to not compromise on the quality,” she says.
Talking more about the challenges, Trisha shares, “Over the years, the market has undoubtedly changed, more so, in the last ten years. The popularity of e-books & m-books has been on a growing trajectory. However, for illustrated books like ours, the market is still in the physical formats. But, the challenge for these big books is visibility. As physical bookstores decrease in number, discoverability of these books get tougher.”
Changing interests… varied topics
“As for the content, there are always waves of changing interests. For example, beyond the general definition of fiction and romance, the younger readers today developed a taste for a content steeped in fantasy, myth, spiritual thrill and the shadowy world of phantoms, draculas, vampires and magic and miracles. This is how Harry Potter Series, Twilight, Lord of Rings, Game of Thrones kind of books have become a rage. We have to grapple with this market and give the readers wholesome entertainment on mystery and romance,” tells Trisha.
Future areas of growth…
Trisha firmly believes that along with the opening of the digital highway, the areas of growth in the publishing industry have increased phenomenally. “Let us take the question of books with visuals or children’s books. There was a time when just a few illustrations by an artist, or a few photographs by a good photographer used to make an interesting illustrated volume. But, today the generations are growing up on the rich fair of visuals from the NatGeo, Animal Planet, Discovery World and other channels. So, the books will have to compete with these wonderful visuals and yet grab the eyeball of the reader. Apart from this, the new experiments with spirituality in management, corporate communications, post-truth world – all these are pushing at the boundaries of the publishing industry. Bringing out innovative books on these platforms is both a challenge and an area of possible growth,” she explains.
On digital wave…
Digital World has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we read and collect information. "Today, all kinds of data are easily available through the World Wide Web without any barriers at the click of a button. Two major impact of the digital age can be briefly mentioned here. Distance education has got a tremendous fillip because of the digital technology, which in turn, is increasing the book hunger amongst the neo-literates and adult-literates of the rural area. The present day telephonic and innovative use of mobile books is trying to tap that market. While, the second impact is in the field of studio efficacy. A lot of images now can be played around in the Photoshop, till the desired effect is gauged. This has revolutionized the use of visuals in books and videos,” says Trisha.
“However,” says Trisha, “with the perks of great speed and increased accessibility & connectivity, credibility of the information and cyber security issues have also come to light. Plagiarism is one of the biggest threats to the publishing industry. But, as they say there are always two sides of the same coin. It is on us how we mitigate the negatives and leverage the positives.”
“Over the last couple of months, we have been going strong on translations. Understanding the complexity of translations as well as the need to make regional literature more accessible to the rest of the world, we believe that our endeavours to do so is in sync with the nation’s endeavours for globalization. As a matter of fact, we are starting a whole new imprint for the same,” concludes Trisha.
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