- 45% Volume growth of books sold in India in December 2011 (y-o-y)
- 47% Market value growth of books
- 49% Volume growth of adult fiction books (half-yearly sales)
* * *
So, which were the bestselling Indian books of 2011? Until recently, you could have had every author in the country hold up his or her magnum opus as the readers’ favourite and there’d be no way to dispute it. The lack of recording standards meant any writer could add prefixes like “bestselling” or “leading” to their name, even as publishers and bookstores grappled with royalties and inventories.
There was probably a collective sigh of relief when Nielsen introduced its BookScan service in India. The global information and measurement company provides real-time data on book sales across retailers. It tracks 80,000 different book purchases worth Rs 8 crore each week. And year-to-date, it has data on sales worth Rs 328 crore from 13 million book sales across 386,400 titles.
Publishers pay for the results, but it is more of a partnership with the retailers. In the past 15 months, the company has signed on 22 retailer groups, including large chains such as Crossword, Landmark, Odyssey and Flipkart and smaller players of repute like Connexions, Galgotias and Full Circle.
For both publishers and retailers, it’s proving to be a good strategy to have accurate numbers for book sales. The weekly sales charts that retailers are given free in exchange for sales data helps them manage their supply chain and negotiate prices with publishers (based on the average selling price revealed by BookScan). “It helps retailers in two ways,” explains Deepinder Kapany, vice president and head, books and entertainment business, Reliance Retail. “You don’t need multiple sources to locate a book, and the consolidated sales data from different retailers helps in better inventory control.”
For publishers, too, the benefits outweigh the cost. “They can now take reprint decisions and frame inventory, distribution and marketing policies based on information from a third party, provided without any bias, and with an established methodology to track sales,” says Vikrant Mathur, associate director, Nielsen BookScan Practice.
Of course, the Nielsen analysis is not a total market measure. “They cover about 70% of the organised Indian book market and the only way in which they can improve is if more and more retailers go electronic and offer them data,” says Anantha Padmanabhan, vice president, sales, Penguin India. The trouble is that many retailers in India do not have standardised billing and systems, and even the ones that do are wary of giving out data. Bookscan is expanding slowly but publishers and retailers aren’t complaining. After all, they no longer have to judge a book by its cover—they can do that by simply looking at its sales.
Extract: Lucknow Boy: A Memoir I Available on http://www.bookstok.com @ Rs. 399
Around February 2010, when the 2G telecom spectrum scandal was still an infant, a small scam in a sea of scams, Ajith [Pillai] brought unverified news of an eight-page note marked ‘Internal Evaluation’ doing the rounds. It contained alleged conversations between a lobbyist called Niira Radia – then beginning to make a name as someone who controlled access to Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani – and Barkha Dutt of NDTV and Vir Sanghvi of Hindustan Times and, most importantly, Ratan Tata of the Tatas. The conversations revolved around the DMK telecom minister
A Raja, with whom I had lunched a few days earlier, when I couldn’t help but notice what sharp safari suits he preferred instead of the traditional mundu…
A couple of days later, Ajith produced the eight-page ‘sensation’. It had copies of some official correspondence between the CBI and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). While the official correspondence appeared genuine, the annexed notes with the Tata-Barkha-Vir conversations seemed dodgy…
…The following week Ajith reported he was under pressure from the leakers of the eight-page note to urgently print the material. When we discovered the leakers were a corporate house deeply enmeshed in the telecom machinations themselves, our decision not to publish received a boost. A few small publications used the conversations in their ‘buzz’ columns, but none of the big boys touched it…
…Unsurprisingly, the 2G scam did not fade away. In fact, its scale and dimensions swelled alarmingly, roping in the office of the prime minister. The climax arrived on November 16, 2010 when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the matter was tabled in Parliament. Pardon my French, but the shit hit the fan. Mr Raja and his merry men, according to the CAG, had perpetrated the biggest fraud in the history of independent India. The CAG estimated a loss of R1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.
A day before the CAG report was tabled in Parliament, Outlook’s friend, well-wisher and comrade-in-arms, Prashant Bhushan (we had fought several battles together), filed a PIL in the Supreme Court, asking the court to monitor the CBI investigations against ‘persons unknown’ in the telecom ministry for causing losses of thousands of crores to the country… Along with the massive documentation filed by Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court, he also attached a CD which contained 140 of the recordings of Niira Radia’s conversations. They were now part of the official record. Our correspondent Saikat Datta got hold of the CD.
CD procured, we began listening to the tapes. The first thing that struck all of us was the crystal-clear quality of the recordings. Whoever had undertaken the surveillance had to be a pro, he had used cutting-edge digital technology. This was not a backstreet job. As we heard the tapes we could not believe our ears. It was as if someone from Bollywood had written the script… Even a fleeting hearing led to the unavoidable conclusion that India is up for sale…
At our editorial conference, hectic ‘publish and be damned’ discussions went to and fro … did we have the spunk to take on some of the most powerful individuals, corporate houses, lobbyists, politicians, journalists in the land? I would be lying if I said commercial interests did not concern me.
…I hate getting up on a soapbox and pontificating about the role of the free press in a free society. I have been doing this job long enough to know that one editor’s ‘public interest’ is another editor’s ‘motivated leak’. Be that as it may, in my career as an editor I could think of no other story I had superintended which was of more compelling public interest. On November 19, 2010, under the heading ‘All Lines Are Busy’, with the caption, ‘There was not one pie Niira Radia didn’t have her hand in, nor any area-media, corporate or government-she didn’t have a contact in’, we published the contents of the tapes.
A king of good times
My relations with Vajpayee were good. Very good. I had known him since my Debonair days and when I moved to Delhi in 1991, I had several opportunities to meet him socially and officially…
…Vajpayee was no saint. He liked to drink moderately and eat non-vegetarian food less moderately. Being a bachelor and a political star (Henry Kissinger: power is the ultimate aphrodisiac), he was never short of female company.
When he became India’s first bachelor prime minister, he juggled a strange domestic life. A Mrs Kaul, whose husband was a college professor and had passed away, moved into 7 Race Course Road, along with her daughter Namita and the daughter’s husband, Ranjan. Namita’s official designation was foster daughter and Ranjan Bhattacharya became foster son-in-law.
Vajpayee, to his credit, made no effort to hide the ménage à quatre…
…AB Vajpayee’s PMO fell into the hands of three individuals. Brajesh Mishra, who had been India’s permanent representative at the United Nations between 1979 and 1981 and on deputation with the UN till 1987, was his closest aide… When things got hot for the ‘moderate face’ of the BJP inside the party, he would pop off to New York to spend time with Brajesh, doing, rumour had it, some naughty things…
…The husband and wife team of Ranjan and Namita were the other power centres in 7 Race Course Road. Vajpayee may have had some reservations about his son-in-law. However, the foster daughter could do no wrong in his eyes. Namita and Ranjan began assiduously cultivating the Delhi media. They had unconcealed contempt for what they called knickerwala journalists; they mingled with Vir Sanghvi, Barkha Dutt, Shekhar Gupta – even me.
The way of all flesh
Easily, my gravest folly in the eight years I lived in Britain was my conduct towards Inge (name changed), an agreeable and striking girl from Switzerland. She was among the one or two steady girlfriends I had. Inge was middle class, Catholic, her father owned a small speciality restaurant and her English was pretty good even before she landed in England. She genuinely cared for me and in different circumstances, I might have considered settling down with her. Contraception was a hit and-miss precaution in those days. The inevitable happened. Inge got pregnant.
We had a long conversation in which we agreed on a course of action. It would have to be a backstreet abortion (the half a bottle of gin and hot bath treatment had not worked) since the official kind was illegal. I located an address in Soho where the job could be done. It was going to cost fifty quid, a huge amount for me. I rustled up the money. And then Inge threw a bombshell: she had strong religious objections reinforced by her parents and her priest.
I explained I was 21 years old with no prospects, and hardly able to fend for myself. How was I going to support a wife and child? There was a suggestion that I could go to Switzerland and work in her father’s restaurant. Me, a cook? Or a waiter? Eventually, I succeeded in convincing Inge that any long-term future with me had disaster written all over it… But first she wanted to go home for a week to see her parents. I saw her off at Victoria Station.
A week passed, two weeks passed, a month passed, no Inge. Finally, I got a letter saying she had discussed the matter with her parents and her priest. She would have the baby; being Catholics the idea of abortion was anathema to her people. Letters went to and fro but she appeared resolute. In the end, I had to tell her if she was insistent, she would be on her own.
That is the last I heard from her.
The priest took over. After a Christian appeal to my conscience failed, matters turned unpleasant. I was threatened with a paternity suit. A summons was served. One of Inge’s friends was still an au pair in Surrey. I begged her to talk to Inge. There was no way, given my situation, that I could marry her. Inge didn’t write to me directly but through her friend she sent a message: she understood my position. But she was going to have the baby.
Some months later, the same friend told me that I had become the father of a girl. She was absolutely gorgeous. I received a picture. The gorgeous bit was true. Unfortunately, no one told me what name had been given to her, and I received no subsequent photograph or communication from Switzerland.
My daughter must be in her mid-40s now, probably a mother, which makes me a grandfather. I have no idea where she lives, what she does, what she thinks of me. I have often tried to imagine her and in this reverie I have prayed that perhaps through some happy accident our paths might cross. It hasn’t happened yet.
I have been married twice, but no children. The only child I have is a stranger to me and lives in a faraway land. I don’t have many regrets in life and generally I have not been a ‘bastard’ with women. On this occasion, I was. I don’t expect to be forgiven.
Dead if you are naked
As I was settling down as editor, the Emergency broke. I got a call from Raj Bhawan informing me that the information and broadcasting minister,
VC Shukla, required my presence. I was asked to bring along all visual and written material slated for the next issue. I felt both flattered and anxious. Flattered because my presence and Debonair’s existence had been noted by those strangling the free press, and anxious because this was the first time I was coming face to face with officialdom.
…Mr Shukla was amiable, suave and curious. Under no circumstances, he commanded, were we to drop an issue, as some others had done; but we must be careful. He wanted to see the centre spread scheduled for the next number. I produced half a dozen transparencies. His eye fell upon one which was 90% nude. He kept it to one side. I inquired if we should perhaps skip the centre spread. He was horrified. ‘No,’ he said, ‘just make it decent.’ Decent centre spread? I collected the photographs spread before him and prepared to leave. The nude transparency, the one he had kept on one side, Shukla pocketed without permission.
The next month’s centre spread was, if that is possible, even more revolting. The breasts were covered with an ugly, dense dupatta. The Emergency had taken its toll on our naked women!
These are edited extracts from Vinod Mehta’s Lucknow Boy: A Memoir.
Extract: Lucknow Boy: A Memoir I Available on http://www.bookstok.com @ Rs. 399
Steve Jobs passing away has created a sudden spike in interest in books based on his life. Being a true revolutionary of his generation everybody wants to know what made him tick and what probably was his secret to success. The latest and possibly the most personal book Steve Jobs – The Exclusive Biography will available from the last week of October in India. Bookstores both online and bookchains report unprecedented queries from readers on this book which is supposed to be his authorized memoirs.
There have been a lot of books written on Mr. Jobs including- iCon, The Steve Jobs way, Presentation secrets of Steve Jobs. All these books provide a unique insight into what drove the man to achieve so much and with so much passion.
The new Biography would probably give us more insight to the life of Mr. Jobs In a more personal manner as the author was called by Mr. Jobs himself to write his biography in 2004. Probably Mr. Jobs knew that the end was near and wished to put together a book that would serve as inspiration for future generation of entrepreneurs and anyone with an idea to believe in oneself and relentlessly pursue it.
The book Steve Jobs : The Exclusive Biography features on our this month’s specials at Bookstok.com and is available at a super discount of 33% at Rs. 539 with free home delivery.
Book your copy now!
DIPPING INTEREST General interest print magazines are mostly losing readership, while business and niche magazines are growing and attracting international labels
The latest Indian Readership Survey for the second quarter of 2011 shows that magazine readership continues to follow the decline trend of the past two years, specifically general interest magazines. Business and niche magazines, however, are showing growth.
Among business magazines, two relatively new publications -the Indian editions of Forbes and Fortune -have added fresh excitement. They are targeting the top end of the English magazine readership.
IRS 2011 Q2 shows that of the top 10 magazines, India Today is the only English language magazine to feature and despite the trend of general interest magazines declining in readership, it has gained readership over Q1.
Business Today is the only business magazine to feature in the top 10 English language magazines list. The highest read business magazine in India, it did lose some readership in Q1 2011, but made up some of the loss in Q2.
Business Outlook is the only business magazine to have shown steady readership growth over the last five quarters. “We have been looking at the numbers -ad revenues and circulation -and there is clear growth even as others have shown a decline,“ said Maheshwar Peri, publisher, Outlook.
According to IRS, 2010 saw an overall growth in readership of business magazines over 2009, with Business Today, Outlook Business, Business World and Outlook Money gaining in readership and Business India remaining at the same level.
“There is a loss of interest in general interest magazines. There is a lot of pressure on revenues. Even as the overall advertising spends in print are growing at a healthy 20-25%, spends on magazines are going down,“ Ramaswamy Ranganathan, business group head, Mediacom, said.
“Magazine consumption is changing -a drop is occurring among the male readers. Also, demographically, there is a drop in the peripheral readers,“ said Arabinda Ghosh, executive VP, ZenithOptimedia India, a media agency.
According to the FICCI-KPMG media and entertainment industry report of 2011, the magazine market in India has more than 68 genres across 19 categories.
The magazine industry’s declining growth contribution to the print media industry, say magazine sources, is due to a lack of adequate measurement mechanisms to measure reach, popularity and return on investment.
“In general, magazine readership is on a decline but that is more limited to the general interest magazines. The business magazine category is seeing fresh excitement with the entry of new premium players and there is a revival to some extent,“ said Gurmeet Singh, CEO, Forbes India.
“Even though the space in the business genre is heavily crowded, the business magazines are well-positioned. The new international players who have entered the business genre are positioned differently with their pricing. As such, you can never replace the pure play Indian business magazines that, despite their pricing, are churning out better content,“ said Ashish Bagga, CEO, India Today. “At Rs 100, they are reaching out to a very niche audience.“
Business magazines have already increased their cover prices. Business Today and Outlook Business have seen a price hike of Rs 5.
More international magazines are launching in India, especially in the niche and special interest magazine category.
Worldwide Media launched Lonely Planet in the first half in 2010 and BBC Knowledge and Home Trends in the second half. Network 18 launched ForbesLife and Conde Nast Traveler.
All these magazines are priced at Rs 100-250. “Some of them have shown good growth albeit from small numbers,“ the PricewaterhouseCoopers media and entertainment 2011 report noted.
Niche magazines have made their presence felt in India and will continue to grow, PwC predicts. While segments such as travel, auto, lifestyle and education are already established, it expects new segments to emerge and grow this space. In 2010, a few niche magazines such as Autocar, India Today Travel Plus and Outlook Traveler recorded very healthy growth.
Of the total print industry, magazines contribute only around 5-6% in revenues. Advertising currently comprises around 70% of magazine revenues. “Revenues are not down but the sources are undergoing a change as there is more contribution from non-subscription-based areas. While advertising, sales and subscription may contribute a large portion together, events, innovations and digital presence are contributing more,“ said Ashish Pherwani, associate director, Ernst & Young. Whether this will be enough to sustain magazines, going forward, is unclear. Ranganathan said: “With the cost levels going up, consolidation is the only way forward for the magazine industry.”
Source: Hindustan Times, 3rd Oct’11 I Rachit Vats I MUMBAI
The way we read has changed… Now you can carry hundreds of books around without having to cart a load.
Norbert Rego reports – TIMES NEWS NETWORK
TECHNOCRAT Harpreet Sapra has an enviable bookshelf, but it’s all on her iPad. She doesn’t feel the need to buy any magazines or books as they are all available for download. Freelance writer Prasad Naik explains his love for eBooks, “The iBooks app has a lovely bookshelf for displaying your eBooks along with page-turning animations. And I don’t have to save hard copies of articles that I might like to revisit.”
Today, the way we consume information is changing. And literature is no exception. Says author Himani Dalmia, “There will be literary apps that allow us to engage with the characters further, poetry apps that will teach us how to read Eliot, and networking sites that encourage us to discuss what we have read with others from around the globe. Our reading habits will change and, yes, the face of literature will change.”
In 10 or 15 years, books and bookshelves will have largely disappeared. Literary culture will no doubt be replaced by different types of media culture and sad as the death of literature may seem, this is not unprecedented.
Nick Ingelbrecht, research director, consumer insight, Gartner says, “Whether Tolstoy would have written War and Peace on a wattpad for iPhone is to some extent irrelevant if 21st century readers lack the interest to ever read such a large volume of text on such a small screen. That is the concern about the future of literature, because if people do not regularly read large amounts of text (whether on screen or paper), there will be less and less demand for and interest in literary culture.”
Quick fix of literature
This does not in any way mean that the quality of literature will diminish. States Dalmia, “There will simply be a transition into another medium and another mode of consuming — as has already happened in the past when we moved from oral traditions to written, and from handwritten manuscripts stored in libraries to ubiquitous books made possible through the printing press. Good stories will always remain and we will always be attracted to them.”
Today, many gadgets and gizmos allow us to get a ‘quick fix’ of literature. Stephanie Mantello of Amazon.com tells us, “Kindle changes the way you read. You can do lots of things which you couldn’t do with a physical book. Think of a book, and have it, ready to read, in less than 60 seconds.”
V K Karthika, publisher, HarperCollins India says, “We are definitely looking to sell the eBook r i g h t s . At present, we do not p u b l i s h any books digitally, but we will work towards this end over the next couple of years. It will take a few years to catch on in India.”
And now T S Eliot’s The Waste Land leads the iPad app chart and has everybody talking about it. We are in the era of convergence and the literature landscape is changing with the times. The Internet has made possible the seismic shift of printed paper text into digital format, suitable for screen-based consumption.
A Gartner global research shows that today, people in developed countries spend nearly as much time reading text on screen as they do on printed paper text. This change has occurred in the space of a single generation. Such a rapid adoption of screen reading comes in spite of evidence that today, many people find reading text on screen harder than reading on paper. “Just as Sophocles’ reservations about the dangers of the oral tradition being overtaken by the written word 2,400 years ago did nothing to slow the transition to writing, the replacement of printed text with screen images (including text) signifies a shift of similar monumental proportions, in which human knowledge will be re-embodied and re-shaped by screen-based modes of transmission,” adds Ingelbrecht. Classical musician Amaan Ali Khan travels a lot abroad for his shows. “While waiting for the flight or at the hotel or in between meetings, I am on my iPad and connect to the news sites and read a good book. I think it’s a boon to be connected to all the happenings in the world.”
Read and tweet
Carrying around hardbound books proved to be very cumbersome for Gautam Odrani, who works for a broking firm. “I started using eBook apps on my Creative tablet and now I can simultaneously tweet from the tablet about what I’m reading.”
Actor Samir Soni has an iPad but doesn’t use it to read books. He orders them from Amazon.com. “Technology is a boon because it has made the written word far more accessible and economical as it does away with middlemen and the cost of paper, etc. The avid reader will read regardless of the medium but the coming generations, with the choices available to them, may never experience the simple pleasures of being tucked in bed and reading a book,” says Soni. As long as it means more power to books and bookworms, nobody’s complaining!
From print to screen
- The Amazon store now has more than 360,000 books plus newspapers and magazines that you can download and read on your Kindle e-book reader.
- An Internet source says Amazon has inked a deal with the UK’s British Library to make some 65,000 out-of-print books from the 19th century available as free downloads on its Kindle or for sale as paperbacks via a print-on-demand service.
- Twitter and Facebook integration on Kindle means millions of customers can share their love of reading instantly with their network of family and friends, and in turn, help them discover new authors, new books, and new ideas.
- Kindle has also established an iPhone application called Kindle for iPhone.
- Even on an iPad, you can install Kindle and Barnes & Noble apps for more books.
- iPad is backed by a large collection of books on the iBookstore and it even supports ePub and PDF files.
- Samsung Galaxy Tab consumers can access over two million eBooks, 3,000 magazines and 1,600 newspapers in English and vernacular languages.
Dramatised Readings – A dream theatre initiative by Yatrik Theatre Group & Old World Culture continues… Reading of the selected script from Session I with improvisations and adaptations. At Session II- The Caretaker by Harold Pinter- remastered!
Venue: Habitat World, India Habitat Centre (IHC),
Lodhi Road, Delhi (NCR)
Date: May 25 2011
Time: 07:00 PM
Book Reading – The Hungry Stones – Dramatised Reading
Rabindranath Tagore’s The Hungry Stones – Dramatised Reading with a multi-media presentation Conceived & Directed by Sohaila Kapur with Sunit Tandon & Sanjeev Desai (readers); Sanah Kaintura (dance); and Shampa Das (vocal) One of Tagore’s most celebrated short stories, The Hungry Stones, written in 1895 is a ghost story.
Venue: India International Centre,
40 Max Muller Marg, Lodhi Estate, Delhi (NCR)
Date: May 24 2011
Time: 06:30 PM
Book Reading – Pilgrimages to the Mysterious Words – Poetry
Pilgrimages to the Mysterious Words – Poetry readings in Hindi and English by Dr Kusum Ansal Chair: Prof Indranath Choudhury (Collaboration: The Poetry Society, India).
Venue: India International Centre,
40 Max Muller Marg, Lodhi Estate, Delhi (NCR)
Date: May 16 2011
Book Launch – Until My Freedom Is Come: The New Intifada In Kashmir – Sanjay Kak.
Collab: Penguin Books India.
Venue: Habitat World, India Habitat Centre (IHC)
Lodhi Road, Delhi (NCR)
Date: May 25 2011, Wednesday I Time: 7:00pm
The graphic novel was coined as a term to distinguish itself from comics as they supposedly carried more mature and literary content and works of art. In the United States the first form of popular visual books began with the likes of Superman, Batman, Captain America, Green Lantern by DC Comics and various derivations of it with super human strengths and ability to fight evil that came in all shapes and sizes. With colorful names and costumes they vanquished evil using detective methods and mysterious powers. These comics were a subtle way to influence the public opinion regarding social and political ideologies besides serving to idealise the American way of life and preservation. This was particularly important in the years of the world war and subsequent threat of communism in the post world war era. Besides superheroes a lot more funny animal characters were also created and licensed from studios like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny and Woody the Woodpecker which were highly popular. Syndication in major newspapers across the world also increased the readership and following of comics.
In the course of time the comics evolved from simple battles between good and evil to more complex forms of expression with philosophical, sexual and the metaphysical mirroring the changes in the society thus diverging from the juvenile or ‘comic’ to more serious artistic execution.
The term “graphic novel” began to grow in popularity months after it appeared on the cover of the trade paperback edition of Will Eisner’s ‘A Contract with God’ (October 1978). This collection of short stories was a mature, complex work focusing on the lives of ordinary people in the real world. The critical and commercial success of A Contract with God helped to establish the term “graphic novel” in common usage, and many sources have incorrectly credited Eisner with being the first to use it.
From here onwards publishers like Marvel and DC comics started taking more and more interest in the graphic novel business signing on many talents to take on previous works and adapt them and also create new groundbreaking stories. Most importantly were two artists – Alan Moore and Frank Miller who created dark compelling characters with layered storylines. Major among them was Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen.
The Dark Knight Rises was created by Frank Miller who portrayed an aging Batman in a dystopian future mulling over concepts of mortality, vigilantism and heroism. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons came together to create arguably the finest graphic novel in the last century with the setting being in a alternate reality having superheroes who have retired from crime fighting and now living ordinary lives with the threat of nuclear war impending. Time even listed it as one of the best novels of all time.
Alan Moore after a few years also went on to write the Orwellian piece –‘V for Vendetta’ while Miller wrote his very famous ‘300’ about the Battle of Thermopylae and the film noir styled ‘Sin City’.
Of late there have been a whole lot of writers on the Graphic Novel bandwagon because of its popularity and that the chances of it being turned into a movie are very high. Mark Millar is one of the lot making in big with his Wanted starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy and the last year’s Kickass.
With Hollywood reaching its creative nadir in terms of scripts, Graphic Novels are manna from heaven making it with very easy to adapt it to screen with fancy CGI and big stars making it the perfect recipe for summer blockbusters. While some of them are worth the price of a ticket most just take page by page and put it up on the screen.
All in all whether its saving the planet or saving Hollywood, graphic novels are here to stay for now atleast.