Everyone loves a good love story. With Valentine's Day less than a week away, the world of fine print is once again waking up to good old romance!
"So what can this bond be called which does not abide by the rules - which does not care for political correctness, which just flourishes on its own strength of love, compassion, companionship and belonging. Romance?" writes Medha Gujral Jalota, the wife of bhajan king Anup Jalota, in an anthology of 101 short tales, Chicken Soup for the Indian Romantic Soul.
The book, released as Valentine's Day special at the World Book Fair, is a compilation of voices from across the country that offers a peek into real life stories soulmates.
Recalling the day Anup Jalota proposed to her, Medha says as he went down on his knees, there was a loud clap of thunder. The oppressive heat gave way to a flash of lightning and slashing rainfall. "See", he said, "even the gods approve and are giving their blessing". They married in 1995 after living with him for a year.
The book has been published by Tranquebar Press & Westland Ltd ahead of Valentine's Day Feb 14. The short stories are recapitulations - mostly walks down the memory lanes that describe chance meetings culminating into lasting bonds, old loves, sacrifice, romantic omens and first crushes.
"We scheduled the release of the book so that it would be at the bookstores just before Valentine's Day, but it is a title that we think will do well all the year round," Deepthi Talwar, senior commissioning editor of Tranquebar Press-Westland Ltd, told IANS.
Talwar said every story that went into the volume had to be true. "The contributors either related to things that happened to them or that have happened to someone they know. Our aim was to capture as many interpretations of romance and love as possible. India has talented romantic writers," Talwar said.
The popularity of romances as a literary genre and as a business has been fuelled by the entry of Mills & Boons in the Indian market, Talwar said.
"Though I don't have the actual figures, the fact that it is publishing India specific titles is a sign that business in romantic books is booming," she observed.
Business for Mills & Boon India has doubled by 50 percent in 2009 compared to 2008.
"We are growing by 10 percent every quarter," said Manish Singh, the country manager (sales) of Harlequin Mills & Boon India, which prints and distributes M&B titles in the country.
The publishing unit has launched two new series in India this month - the Passionate Bride, a series of three books by Penny Jordan, and the Ruthless collection, a three-in-one omnibus of romances by three established Mills & Boon authors.
"We also launched a new family romance series, 'Special Moments', with six titles a couple of months ago in India. It was a recommendation of a survey carried out by the company in January, which felt the company required to position itself in the family segment with more general books of love based on a broader thematic concept that could be enjoyed by Indian families," Singh told IANS.
Priced at Rs.125, the books target women - mostly mothers, housewives and working woman between 30 and 35 - who live within the framework of families.
Three new titles by Penguin Books-India add variety to the cache of popular romantic literature.
"Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna, which we will be publishing in July is a love story set in the coffee plantations of Coorg. The book is a generational saga and a beautiful human story," Dia Kar Hazra, editorial director of Penguin Books-India, told IANS.
Penguin-India has just published Buddhadeva Bose's controversial novel Raat Bhorey Brishti (It Rained All Night) - a powerful story about one woman and two men.
"This explicit and bold novel about marriage and adultery was banned when it was first published in Bengali," Hazra said.
A workplace romance, Love Over Coffee, a part of the company's new Metro Read series, was a bestseller at the just concluded World Book Fair.