Top publishers unspool the year ahead for books and ideas

New Delhi, Dec 29: With storytelling through multi-media seeming to be the flavour for the future, experimentation will be the name of the game in publishing in the year ahead, says Mita Kapur, one of India's leading literary agents and an author in her own right.

Top publishers unspool the year ahead for books and ideas

"Storytelling through multi-media seems to be the flavour for the future. We can look forward to more audio-visual content being published with AI based tools that help story tellers to narrate their stories in new ways," Kapur told IANS in an interview.

"Yet, my faith in traditional publishing will never waver, we will push forward, never tiring, and readers can expect major historical non-fiction narratives, memoirs and biographies coming out to populate reading lists. Experimentation is the name of the game," she added.

Also, it is "really reaffirming to see more and more translations from different languages reaching a larger spectrum of readers not just through English language publishing but also through cross-translations between languages. The numbers may not be too high but at least there is a surge which will be sustained," Kapur maintained.

According to Krishan Chopra, Editor-in-Chief, Bloomsbury India, the country's publishing industry held up wonderfully well during Covid and has bounced back as one of the most vibrant anywhere.

"There is a range of voices and views, powerfully expressed, and 2023 promises to be a big year. This will certainly be so for Bloomsbury India. It is hard to mention all the outstanding titles in the select and very strong fiction (including translations) and non-fiction list for the year," Chopra said.

He adddd "We can promise much more to delight besides these, from the wonderful "Intertidal A Coast and Marsh Diary" by Yuvan Aves, to the acclaimed "Tiger Lessons" by S. Venkatarami Reddy, translated by Narasimha Kumar. Books which we will be talking more about in the course of 2023."

Listing other books that are in the pipeline, Chopra said "There are many books that will contribute to the discourse in a major way and at the start of the year itself one that will be its most important is "Between Hope and Despair" by political theorist Rajeev Bhargava.

"It is hard to overstate the importance of this book which brings clarity, in a very accessible way, to the issues that trouble us the most. As India's traditional inclusive, pluralistic character comes under strain, Bhargava takes us back to the founding narrative of the Republic and its ethical ideals to show how these questions can be addressed.

"Another book we expect will be much read for its acerbic insights into unfolding India is "Sound and Fury" by the inimitable Karan Thapar. His interviews have provided an indispensable window into events and news as they happen, whether it is on the country's borders or other frontlines of health, politics, business or judiciary. Often, they have corrected the course of discussion too.

"Coming up early in the year, too, is the perceptive and anticipated "Caged Tiger How Too Much Government Is Holding Indians Back" by Subhashish Bhadra. One reason, Bhadra argues, showing examples from the cultural to politiccal and economic spheres, is faulty institutional design, which is eating away at the foundations of our democracy.

"And from the perspective of fiction, 'History's Angel', by Anjum Hasan, a global acquisition by Bloomsbury that will be a major publishing moment in India, the UK and the US. At its centre is Alif, a middle-aged, mild man whose life's passion is history but who is being pressed down by the present.

"In fiction, too, is 'We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies', by Tsering Yangzom Lama, which was shortlisted for the Giller prize in 2022. It explores through the story of two sisters forced to leave Tibet the lengths to which we go to remain connected to our families and ancestral lands."

Kapish G Mehra, Managing Director, Rupa Publications India, said the practice of reading books and therefore the 2023 publishing scenario seem to indicate an optimistic trend.

"Post the pandemic, a lot of the readers have begun to experiment with different genres, with the greatest uptake in non-fiction and children books genres," Mehra told IANS.

"Within the non-fiction space self-improvement, health, business and management are the indicative frontrunners.

"With people stepping out in large numbers over the last few months, and hopefully more shall step out in the coming months - we expect to see a greater uptake at the retail level.

"E-commerce continues to help reach a lot of homes and the pandemic has only increased its penetration," Mehra added.

Thomas Abraham, MD, Hachette India, expects 2023 to be a seamless continuation from 2022. "Hachette India has just closed its most successful year and what's particularly pleasing is that this is not off the backs of one or two aberrant sellers that tend to skew a year," he said.

"It's been a consistent performance across the board though a few concerns remain for frontlist (what publishers call new releases in a year). After the battering of 2020 with 4 months of zero sales), this is a welcome return," Abraham told IANS.

"Post the Covid shutdowns online had surged ahead making 2021 a strong year. But in 2022 the return of brick iamp; mortar has been the star turn in cementing the year's solid performance. Stand out titles were Indra Nooyi's "My life in Full" which continued its run to top a 100,000 copies.

"And there were a whole raft of Booktok (in the west) driven bestsellers from authors like Colleen Hoover, Ali Hazelwood. Graphic novels saw an explosion whether it be traditional favourites like Asterix or the new teen sensation "Heartstopper". Fantasy also saw a comeback with the Wheel of Time, and the Witcher series doing well.

"So, we certainly expect these trends to continue in 2023, and our publishing programme will reflect these. On the domestic front translations have been the lead literary story and we have some great offerings in "Sin", "The Begum and the Dastaan", from the Urdu and "The Sound of Waves", "The Four Hundred Songs of Love" and "The Chariot of Wisdom" from the Tamil.

"Two major series launches must be mentioned –the Asterix compact omnibuses releasing in February and the great yellowbacks revival in April," Abraham added.

Trisha De Niyogi, COO and Director, Niyogi Books, said that 2023 "already looks positive for us". She noted "Beginning with the Chennai International Book Fair, Kolkata International Book Fair and New Delhi World Book Fair in tow, we are looking at a successful end to the financial year in the month of March.

"We see a growth in demand for illustrated books as well as non-illustrated non-fiction titles, as is predictable. As can be gauged over the years, I see a sustained rise in interest in translations --not only in fiction, but also in non-fiction. I particularly see a significant increase in both demand and supply in the segment of mind, body and soul.

"While, of course, culturally sexist norms will continue to be challenged, I see more publishing activity in the direction of environment and sustainability. We are also publishing several books challenging the gender dynamics including women's voices, LGBTQ+ and more.

"We are in the final stages of bringing out the title "Entering the Maze" originally written by Krishnagopal Mallick in the years 1987 to 2003 and now has been translated by Niladri R. Chatterjee."

In the coming year, Niyogi said, the publishing house also plans to consolidate its position which is looking up in the post-COVID months.

She added "Shaking off the inertia of the pandemic days, we have taken up some audacious projects including a four-volume Mahabharata in Mewari paintings with translations into Hindi and English.

"Apart from this, after launching our highly successful 'Pioneers of Modern India' series last July, we plan to launch another new series -- rather an imprint in 2023 -- Perky Parrot to bring out quality children literature and YA material."

OakBridge co-founder Vikesh Dhyani noted that since book publishing is one of the best forms of documenting, sharing and archiving knowledge, history, tradition and culture, "what we need to realise is that publishing is a knowledge creation process which is medium agnostic and may change form with advancement in technology and access to more engaging multimedia content".

Talking about the emerging stumbling blocks, Dhyani said "Print publishing does face challenges related to rising paper and printing costs, growing environmental consciousness around reducing paper production / consumption, shifts in consumers' content consumption habits, limitations to physically store and distribute printed books, reductions in library purchase grants, and book piracy. Yet, the future of book publishing looks bright."

Looking ahead, he added "Digital publishing has allowed for greater accessibility and a larger reach. Additionally, the use of social media and other online outlets has furthered the reach of publishers amongst their intended users and authors. Digital publishing has opened up new avenues for authors to share their work.

"Book publishers need to adapt to the changing times and embrace the digital platforms. Digital publishing has the potential to reach a wider audience and make books more affordable and accessible.

"It allows publishers to experiment with different types of content and create new and exciting formats. Improvements in technology and innovation will enhance author, publisher and reader collaboration and as digital technology continues to advance, the possibilities are endless."

(Vishnu Makhijani can be reached at
Top publishers unspool the year ahead for books and ideas
IANS 30 December 2022 Post Your Comments

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