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2008: year of the bookworm

With big authors and bigger numbers, the Indian publishing industry seems all set for a grand new year. Fiction and graphic novels will be the flavour of 2008, reports Girija Duggal.

books Updated: Dec 21, 2007 14:08 IST
Girija Duggal

With big authors and bigger numbers, the Indian publishing industry seems all set for a grand new year. Says Thomas Abraham, MD, Hachette Publishing India, "Next year is going to be really unbelievable with more than 20-25 big names for release as opposed to the usual seven or eight.

"I have never seen a list like this in all my years in publishing."

Ravi Singh, publisher, Penguin Books, India, agrees, "This hasn't happened in a while. Penguin is coming out with eight to nine big titles next year. It will be an unusual, special year," he says.

Many factors
The optimism within the industry circles stems from a number of factors. First, the industry is getting increasingly corporatised. Secondly, a lot of retail space is due to be added. Sugata Ghosh, VP, commissioning, Sage Publi cations, says, "Retail chains like Crossword and Land mark [are] to expand. Future group and Reliance [are going to] to open up retail spaces."

Third, industry insiders expect changes in the relation between publishers, distributors and retailers.

In addition, as Singh says, "The one truly positive development to my mind is the emergence of Indian literary agencies based in India and headed by people with an understanding of publishing realities here."

Taking a cue from trends seen in the last two years, there are certain genres that will witness an increase in popularity. This was the surprise package this year in terms of sales. Advaita Kala's Almost Single, for example, sold close to 7000 copies (double the usual average) and was ready for a third reprint with in three months of its release.

So in 2008, get ready for Keep off the Grass by Karan Bajaj, Married But Available by Abhijit Bhaduri, You Are Here by popular blogger Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, and The Other Half of Me by Swati Kaushal.

Revivals and reissues
According to Abraham this genre has traditionally put off the younger crowd in India for its dry writing.

"Now, lots of the writing is in the same style as literary fiction.. [it is] more accessible to the larger reading group," says Abraham.

That Penguin India launched a special catego ry called Retro Revival and HarperCollins Harper Perennial this year is indication enough that forgotten bestsellers will take centrestage next year. Reissues According to S K Pandey, store manager at a bookstore, "reprints have done well.. there was response in the market."

Penguin will release a complete set of classic Garth comics and graphic novel, while Harper Collins will re-issue Mulk Raj Anand's Private Life of an Indian Prince in paperback and Ngaio Marsh's mysteries.

Authors to look out for: Amitav Ghosh, Nandan Nilekani, Tarun Tejpal, Jhumpa Lahiri, Siddharth, Dhanvant Shanghvi, Zubin Mehta, Shobhaa De, Anita Desai, Kamala