Tuesday, April 28, 2009

India, in technicolor

It’s unusual for a first-time writer to put together a coffee-table book that contains over 300 photographs, 250 pages, weighs 3.5 kg and is priced at Rs 8,500. But Sumant Batra, 43, a well known Delhi-based lawyer, was determined to pursue his second passion, writing, and the result is The Indians: Interesting Aspects, Extraordinary Facets, a beautifully packaged book, full of vivid pictures of prevailing traditions and customs in India, says an Indian Express report.

“I wanted to showcase the ordinary Indians who are carrying the weight of this country on their shoulders,” says Batra, also a consultant for the World Bank, IMF and OECD. His charity work with the Loomba Trust, an India-based international trust that works for children of widows, brought him in touch with Cherie Blair, the international president of the trust who has written the foreword to the book.

The Indians is divided into 21 chapters, each dealing with a certain aspect of life in India. “The book is about the common man’s life, the traditions he follows and the sights and sounds of his life in this country,” says Batra who has worked closely with the photographer Sonhal Nichani who shot all the photographs for the book. Beginning with “Rituals and Ceremonies”, the book traces the lives of people around us, like presswallahs, dhobis, street-side cooks, eunuchs, wrestlers, children and more. “We tend to overlook the beauty of the ordinary and this deserves recognition as well,” says Batra.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Print a book in minutes

Imagine getting a copy of a novel at a bookstore even though it is out of stock! Well, it is now possible, thanks to a new machine which can print off any book for you in minutes just at the touch of a button, says a PTI report.

In fact, the innovation launched by popular book chain Blackwell, removes the need to order a hard-to-find novel, or the wait to buy one that has sold out, as it can print off any book from a vast computer database, the Daily Mail reported. Even out-of-print works can be printed off in minutes.

The Espresso Book Machine will also benefit aspiring novelists who can walk in to a shop with a CD of the work and have their book professionally printed in minutes, say its developers. The cost of buying a book will be generally the same as if it were in stock. The machine, resembling an industrial photocopier and printer, prints 105 pages a minute, or one book every five minutes or so.

"With the Espresso Book Machine you can order it and have it in your hand within a few minutes. Having books printed on-demand also reduces the carbon footprint and cuts down on the number that are pulped or sent back," Andrew Hutchings of Blackwell was quoted as saying.
In fact, Blackwell's aim is that the customer will be able to browse a catalogue in a kiosk next to the machine then press 'Make Book' and watch as their novel is created. First the cover is run off, then the pages are printed and collated.

The pages are then clamped and glue applied to the spine. In the final stage, the pages are stuck to the cover before being trimmed to size from A4. The completed book then pops out of a slot in the side of the machine.

"Companies, such as Amazon, have been offering a very competitive service but you still have one or two days to wait from ordering the book until it arrives," Hutchings said, adding a 300-page out-of-copyright book will cost 30 pounds.

Michelle Obama set to appear in biographical comic book

US first lady Michelle Obama is set to appear in a biographical comic book called 'Female Force: Michelle Obama', according to a PTI report. According to Bluewaters Productions, this latest installment in the series 'Female Force' offers a biography of President Barack Obama's better half "as she secures her place in American history", USA Today reported.

The story is written by Neal Bailey and drawn by Joshua LaBello with a cover by Vinnie Tartamella.

The first two books in the 'Female Force' series, featuring Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, are currently on their third printing.

"The reaction has been insane," Bluewater president Darren Davis told the Chicago Tribune. He expects Michelle's book to outsell Clinton and Palin's.

Three more 'Female Force' titles, featuring Caroline Kennedy, Princess Diana and Condoleezza Rice, are in production and scheduled for release in the coming months. The USD 3.99 comic will hit the stores on April 29.

'Indian writers in India don't get the respect Indian writers in America get'

Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, the Man Booker Prize-winning novel about class tensions in India has been optioned for a film adaptation by a distinguished Hollywood producer. The paperback edition of the book continues to be among the top 15 books in The New York Times bestseller list; last week it was number 13. And soon Adiga will have his new book published by Simon & Schuster who also was behind his first book.

Called Between the Assassinations, a novel in stories, it deals with the themes that worry Adiga - social inequities, challenges from fundamentalists and threats to freedom of expression and Indian democracy. An interview on rediff.

Read full interview

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sankar is a star at London

47 years after he created a sensation with his best-selling novel about a hotel in his native Kolkata, Bengali writer Sankar is kicking up a literary storm in the West, says an IANS report. Sankar, whose real name is Mani Sankar Mukherjee, has turned out to be the surprise triumph of the ongoing London Book Fair - feted by academics, lauded by reviewers and mobbed by fans.

From heavyweights such as Vikram Seth to relative unknowns, Sankar’s admirers have lined up to be photographed with him. At age 75, Sankar couldn’t be a happier man today.

His 1962 novel Chowringhee has been translated into dozens of Indian languages, sold hundreds of thousands of copies in India and Bangladesh and made into a film that is a Bengali cine-classic.
But for all his success in India, he has been a virtual unknown in the West. “For 47 years I had this typically Bengali arrogance about me. ‘Let them come to me,’ I said, ‘I won’t go to them’,” Sankar told IANS.

“That is what happened. And now I feel relaxed. You know, it’s been worth the wait,” said Sankar with a broad smile.
Read full story here

It's time to market India's rich literature

A DNA report: For a decade or so, April 23 has been World Book and Copyright Day. But through centuries, this has been a significant day in the world of literature. It is, for example, the day of Shakespeare's birth and death, the day Miguel Cervantes died, the day Vladimir Nabokov was born. And now it is the day that celebrates books and copyright laws that protect writers and their work.

As I write this, on the eve of the Book and Copyright Day, this year's London Book Fair is wrapping up. A bit ironical, given that this fair is all about selling and buying rights of books. I guess serious business doesn't need tokens.

This is a trade fair, where business is transacted in hushed tones in dignified settings, individual books are not bought, only the right to publish or distribute them in different regions of the world, or in other media, are acquired. Unlike our bustling book fairs for readers -- especially the Calcutta Book Fair -- here there are no boisterous families having fun, no whining kids demanding comic books from a stoutly protesting parent, no lovers shuffling along the stalls browsing, teasing, impressing each other, no elderly readers wielding a list and diligently searching for that one book that they can't find, no youngsters bent over untidy stacks trying to trim their desires to suit their pocket. This is a business zone.

Read the full story here

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Publishers look to China and India to help them weather recession

In China, inspirational business books such as Who Moved My Cheese and family health titles compete with the latest blockbusters; in India, classics from Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton vie for shelf-space with homegrown authors and the penned advice of billionaire IT entrepreneurs; while in South Africa, the boarding school antics of John 'Spud' Milton have captured readers' imaginations and created a Harry Potter-like craze, says a Guardian feature.

Across the world, the appetite for English language books is booming and publishers struggling under the weight of the recession in their core markets of the US and UK are increasingly turning their sights overseas. Random House, for instance, yesterday announced that the record-breaking first print run of 6.5 million copies of The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown's follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, will include over half a million for overseas territories including India and South Africa, an unprecedented number for a new fiction title.

Publishers from across the globe have gathered in London this week to discuss how to exploit this growing opportunity. This year's London Book Fair has a distinctly Indian flavour, with heavyweight authors such as Vikram Seth and Amartya Sen among the 48 writers appearing, but delegations from China, Russia, Africa and the Arab world will also be there to meet the estimated 16,000 publishers that have come to showcase their catalogues to the rest of the world.

Read full article here

US-based Indian author debuts with record advance

Sarita Mandanna, a US-based Indian author, has created ripples in the publishing world as her Tiger Hills has received the largest advance Penguin India house has so far paid for a debut novel, says a IANS report. David Godwin Associates Ltd., the Britain-based literary agency, has sold “Tiger Hills” to Penguin Books-India for an undisclosed amount.

David Godwin Associates spokesperson Sophie Hoult refused to divulge the exact amount but said the deal was in seven figures. Hoult said Tiger Hills, “a sweeping popular novel set in India between 1878 and the Second World War, was a cross between an Indian version of The Thornbirds and Gone with the Wind”.

Penguin Books-India in New Delhi confirmed they had the book. “We are every excited about it,” Hemali Sodhi, general manager of Penguin Books-India’s marketing department, told IANS Tuesday. “It is a sweeping popular narrative which also has elements of romance in it. Her style of writing is wonderful and the manuscript has been creating a flutter ever since it came to us. The whole period sweep of the book makes it a page-turner,” Sodhi said.

She, however, refused to comment on the exact amount of the advance paid to the author.
Mandanna, an investment banker, works for a large corporate house in New York. She would make a public appearance at the ongoing London Book Fair.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book on saris to be released in London

National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad is happy to announce the first and international release of its latest publication, Indian Saris: Traditions – Perspective – Design authored by Vijai Singh Katiyar, Senior Faculty, NID. The book launch is scheduled at the Nehru Center, London on 20th April 2009. The event coincides with the ‘London Book fair’ where India is the theme country this year.

The book is co-published by NID and the Wisdom Tree, New Delhi. It celebrates the meaningful engagement of contemporary Indian design with the traditional handloom industry of India. This visually delightful book rediscovers the handwoven sari, an iconic traditional product of India for its conceptual strengths that are relevant to the contemporary scenario. The book is the culmination of the author’s extensive experience of nearly two decades.

The book will be released at the hands of The Baroness Flather of Windsor and Maidenhead, JP DL FRSA during the above mentioned function at the Nehru Center, London. The event is aimed to motivate the international design fraternity to further the cause of the handlooms and the contemporary Indian design. The event is also expected to be attended by NID’s partner institutions from U.K. and pave the ways for much closer future ties between the design fraternities of India and UK.

The release of the book is scheduled at 7pm on 20th April 2009. Coinciding with the event, a panel discussion is also being organised on the theme, ‘Design for Indian Textiles & Fashion: Tradition to Modernity — a UK - India deliberation’. Six eminent design experts from U.K. and India will offer their views on the subject.

Panelists from UK are Dr Eiluned Edwards, London College of Fashion/Victoria & Albert Museum’s Senior Research Fellow; Sophie Roet, Consultant Designer - Textile & Fashion, Clockwork Studios, London; Karen Spurgin, Consultant Designer - textile & fashion; Co-founder, ao textiles, London; and Prof. Jimmy Stephen-Cran, Head of Department – Textiles, The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow.

Publishing industry growing at 30 pc every year

Describing country's publishing industry as vibrant, the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee said it is growing at an impressive rate of 30 per cent every year, according to a PTI report.

"We come out with about 70,000 titles every year," Mukherjee said at a reception he hosted at India House in the honour of leading writers and publishers on the eve of the three-day London Book Fair, which focuses on India at the Earl's Court.
Prominent among those present on the occassion included economist and author Lord Meghnad Desai, playwright, actor and filmamaker Girish Karnad, Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi and her lyricist husband Javed Akhtar, Information Technology czar and author Nandan Nilekani and author Vikram Seth.

The High Commissioner noted that 30 per cent of titles brought out in India were in English and the rest in Indian languages. "There is tremendous amount of talent in our country," he said.
Over 50 authors and 90 publishing houses from India are participating in the Book Fair.

Mukherjee, while launching a Amit Gupta's latest book Indian by Choice, said "it was a personal pleasure to launch Amit's book as he was my deputy when I was heading the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in New Delhi."

Amartya Sen's book next for Allen Lane

Allen Lane, which is currently Penguin India's top imprint for non fiction books, saw its second release in the form of NR Narayana Murthy's A Better India, A Better World on April 20 in Delhi.
The next book to be released by Allen Lane India will be Amartya Sen's book, which will be launched in August.
Other Indian authors who are lined up to be published in the Allen Lane include Meghnad Desai, APJ Abdul Kalam, Gurcharan Das and Pavan K Varma.
Named after Penguin's foudner, the imprint was fouded in 1967 to showcase Penguin's premier publishing.

A fair for book lovers

Summer holidays are a good time to catch up with books that one always wanted to read. Keeping in mind the growing demand for reading books during this period, Ashish Book Centre has organised India's largest book fair from April 15 to April 28, 2009, says a DNA report.

Books on diverse subjects like advertising, fashion, gardening, cooking, health, history, literature, photography, sports and others are on sale. Best sellers like The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani and The Lost Flamingos of Bombay, Siddharth Dhanvant Sanghvi are available at discount rates. "The slowdown has led to either job cuts or less work in offices. People are turning to books to seek knowledge," said Damji Nishar, proprietor, Ashish Book center.

"A large assortment of books here, have been shipped from US, UK and Frankfurt. It's not only the students but also professionals like income tax officers, doctors and film makers who visit the fair," he added.The fair, which is being held for last 10 years, sees over 10,000 book lovers everyday. "This year, we have shipped in a special set of self help books that deal with instilling confidence and enhancing one's skills in the downturn," said Nishar. Speaking of the pricing, he added, "Expensive books like the World Books or Science and Technology books which are priced at Rs 1 lakh 50 thousand are available at the fair for Rs20,000."

Prince Charles book to stress harmony with nature

Prince Charles will write a book arguing that the world's pursuit of economic growth and technology has become "dangerously disconnected" from nature, publishers said on April 20, according to a Reuters report.

The book, to be titled Harmony, is due to be released in 2010, publisher HarperCollins, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, said in a statement. A picture book version for children is to be published in 2011.

"I believe that true 'sustainability' depends fundamentally upon us shifting our perception and widening our focus, so that we understand, again, that we have a sacred duty of stewardship of the natural order of things," Prince Charles, 60, said in the statement. "In some of our actions we now behave as if we were 'masters of nature' and, in others, as mere bystanders," he said, adding that society needed to rediscover a sense of harmony, of being a part of nature.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Murthy stresses on inclusive growth

Taking time out of his election campaign schedule, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released Infosys' chief mentor NR Narayana Murthy's book at his official residence in Delhi on April 20 evening.

In a way stretching what his party has been saying all these years, the prime minister said "for the people of India, this book is a message of inclusive growth". The book, A Better India, A Better World, contains 38 lectures that Murthy has delivered over an approximately six year period. Lectures before that were not taken as they would have been too outdated.

Murthy himself described the book as a "blueprint for better India, a better world." He too laid considerable emphasis on the need for more inclusive growth, saying despite the great resurgence of India in the recent past, "we have not lived up to the ideals of our forefathers. This is a book about creating an India we can all be proud of."

The book is the second for the Allen Lane imprint in India, part of Penguin India.

The launch which was held amidst tight security had a limited number of guests - 100 at best, and that included the author's family and friends and few IIT students. A few leading corporate figures like Religare's Malvinder Singh were present too. The PM was around to freely mingle with people during refreshments.

London Book Fair opens amid optimistic buzz

Earl's Court underground station was jam-packed this morning, as much of the UK's – and the world's – publishing industry attempts to make their way into the exhibition centre, clutching or dragging armloads of books, diaries weighed down with back-to-back appointments. It's the start of the yearly rights trading extravaganza which is the London Book Fair, and although the global downturn has affected exhibitor attendance somewhat, the crowds milling around the entrance and pouring into the aisles seem as busy as ever, and the flood of new book deals struck just before and during the fair as overwhelming. A Guardian report.

With India the focus country for the fair this year, a host of big names are scheduled to attend, from Vikram Seth to Amartya Sen, Amit Chaudhuri and Daljit Nagra. Fourteen of India's official languages are represented by the 50-plus authors in attendance, and around 90 Indian publishers will be showcasing their books to an international community – more than 54 countries are represented at the fair – keen to find the next bestseller from the subcontinent.

For full article, click here

New Dan Brown novel coming in September

At last, a new Dan Brown novel is coming. Six years after the release of his mega-selling The Da Vinci Code, the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group announced that Brown's The Lost Symbol, a thriller set during a 12-hour period and featuring Da Vinci Code protagonist Robert Langdon, will come out in September, according to an AP report.

The first printing will be 5 million copies, Knopf Doubleday said Monday, a modest number considering that The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 80 million worldwide and inspired a spin-off community of travel books, diet books and religious works.

Brown, 44, had kept his readers and the struggling book industry in suspense as year after year passed without a new novel. As far back as 2004, Doubleday had hinted that a follow up was coming, tentatively titled The Solomon Key.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Publishers begin wooing Varun Gandhi!

According to a CNN-IBN report, one of the first visitors to visit Varun Gandhi after reaching delhi was a publisher rather than his party members.

“We will be happy to publish his works, it could be anything. Maybe about his time in jail,” Rupa Publishing and Co’s Ruchi said.

Gandhi was recently released from jail after the Supreme Court the UP government to release him.

Narayana Murthy has the solutions!

A series of interviews and articles on Infosys' Narayana Murthy dominated the Indian media today. While Murthy had given the interviews earlier, he had decreed that none was to come out before today.

His book, A Better India, A Better World will be launched in Delhi by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on April 20, Monday.

This is what the articles had to say:

Economic Times:
New calling: Murthy to turn venture capitalist

Twenty-eight years after he started Infosys with Rs 10,000 borrowed from his wife, NR Narayana Murthy, whose personal fortune today is said to be worth around $1.8 billion, wants to start a venture fund to invest in new ideas that create value for society.

In an exclusive chat with ET, the chairman and chief mentor of India’s second-largest IT firm, said there are tremendous investment opportunities beyond computers and high-tech areas. Ideas from rural areas need to be encouraged and the urban poor need the right handholding, mentoring and capital to grow.

“I find youngsters want to do all kinds of things. There are people who want to create wealth by booking tickets. There are people who are creating wealth by enhancing the efficiency of production lines. There are people who are creating wealth by providing efficient, decent and cost-effective means for the corporate world. They all have great ideas,” he said.

For full story, click here

Financial Express:
Good, better, best...
The soft-spoken NR Narayana Murthy, Chairman of the Board and Chief Mentor, Infosys Technologies, finally decides to pen down some of his marvellous experiences and thought-provoking ideas in his book, A Better India: A Better World. As he flips the pages of his book, he unveils some of his thoughts in a free-wheeling conversation with Ayushman Baruah
•To start with the obvious, why did you choose to write a book? What is the key idea behind it?
This is not so much of writing a book as it is putting together a few of my speeches based on a certain focus and theme. It reflects some ideas that I have spoken at various points of time on the framework of my philosophy of economic and social development. In the introduction section of my book, I spoke of three pieces in the development puzzle. The first is the ability of the people to practice a certain value system, a certain work ethic, a certain aspiration, honesty and also decency.

For full story, click here

Publishers embrace vision for a green future

The publishing industry has been fitted for 20-20-20 vision. The Book Industry Environmental Council, a coalition of publishers, booksellers, librarians, printers and paper manufacturers, announced Thursday a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in the year 2020 (based on 2006 numbers), the equivalent, the council says, of pulling 450,000 cars off the road, says an AP report.

The council, which says it represents more than 60 percent of the book market, intends to shrink emissions by 80 percent in 2050. While individual publishers have set environmental goals, the council's announcement marks a broader industry commitment.

"I'm very pleased that our industry has set aggressive but achievable goals that will have tangible benefits and will surely set a precedent for other industries," Pete Datos, chair of the council's climate subcommittee and vice president for inventory and procurement at the Hachette Book Group USA, said in a statement.

No specific plans have been established, but the council cited some possible roads to reductions: increased use of recycled fiber, greater energy efficiency in office buildings, fewer destroyed books that end up in landfills and using market research and digital technology to reduce the number of unsold books returned to publishers (long a desired, but elusive goal for the industry).
"The tools at our disposal have dramatically improved — providing better insight to improve our forecasts, reducing lead times to get books printed and distributed faster, and increasing our flexibility to print just the "right" quantities," Datos said.

The council has yet to take a stand on e-books, saying that the benefits of saving paper may be offset by the possible toxic effects of electronic devices.

The council was formed last year and its coordinators include the Green Press Initiative, an environmental organization that works with book and newspaper publishers, and the Book Industry Study Group, a publishing industry trade association.

In search of India

The theme of the London book fair this year is Indian writing, writes Amit Chaudhuri in the Guardian. Vikram Seth, Amartya Sen, William Dalrymple and other writers in frequent circulation in this country are going to be joined by writers - K Satchidanandan, Javed Akhtar - distinguished or popular on their own terrain but less known here, for five days of discussions and celebrations. Something like this happened in 2006 to the Frankfurt book fair, when planeloads of Indian novelists and poets descended on the Intercontinental Hotel, waved to each other over breakfast, and then read from their work to courteous audiences in the afternoons and evenings.

The theme then, too, was India; and the "idea of India" acted as a catalyst to a process that might have already begun, but received, at that moment, a recognisable impetus - the confluence, in one place, of literary and intellectual dialogue with what is basically business activity, each bringing magic and movement to the other. The India-themed Paris book fair followed swiftly.

For full story, clIck here

Winehouse wants to write a book for kids

After writing poems about her life, British singer Amy Winehouse now wants to write a book for children and hopes to inspire youngsters with her literary offerings, according to an IANS report.

"Amy has been writing poems on a regular basis because she wants to write a children's book one day and for that she believes poems are a practice medium," femalefirst.co.uk quoted a source as saying.

"Amy has been rejuvenated since living in St Lucia. She loves the atmosphere and has found that it has encouraged her to write again," the source added.

How to pick out the right e-book

There was a time when only the elite had books and even then what was in them was strictly controlled. Now they are part of the currency of knowledge and not only can you read just about what you want in them they are cheap enough to be disposable, says a BBC feature.

But technology has to get in on the act. A new breed of books is crawling and blinking into the present. Called, almost inevitably, e-books - they are electronic devices that take digital words and put them on a portable screen. A simple enough idea but one that still has the people developing them scratching their collective heads. To help you out, here are a few things you should consider when deciding whether to go for the new tech.

STORAGE First up a statement of the obvious that may help explain the device: a paper book can store precisely one book, whereas an e-book can potentially store hundreds.
It is hard to think of any single stretch of time where you might need to carry so many books - it would have to be a very long plane trip.

But if you finish a book 10 minutes into a four-hour train journey, all you are left with is a piece of dead tree. With an e-book you can just load up the next novel and keep on reading.

FUNCTIONALITY Then there is accessibility to consider. As anyone who wears glasses knows, the text in a book gets smaller and smaller the older you get. One of the big advantages of an e-book is the text size can be increased or decreased at will, making it an attractive proposition for readers with poor eyesight.

Some of these devices have a backlight to allow you to read when there is not much light - for those that want to read a book under the bed covers perhaps? Obviously it will have an effect on battery life but could be the difference between being able to read something or not.
And for people who like to listen to books, Amazon's Kindle 2 has text-to-speech functionality. It is not as good as an audio book, but it is worth a listen.

Many e-books allow you to mark your favourite passages and mark your place without the need to fold down page corners or insert tatty bits of paper between the pages. A particularly nice function to look out for is the facility to instantly look up unfamiliar words and check them in an on-board dictionary.

Always unwilling to let one tech toy fulfil merely one function, some manufacturers are bringing out e-books as tablet computers with wi-fi access and web browsing. Some also play music while you read. Expect this kind of functionality to be improved and expanded in future generations.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR The main points of comparison between e-books are:
• Battery life - measured in turns of the page, unless if powering a backlight, they only draw on battery power when the display changes.
• Battery access - some allow you to switch batteries if one runs out. Others have the batteries sealed inside, and need to be plugged in to charge.
• Size and weight - this varies a lot, but one fact is clear: all e-books are smaller and lighter than the complete Lord of the Rings in hardback.
• Readability - size and type of screen is a big factor, always see the screen of the device you want before you pay money for it.
• Storage space - many have slots for memory cards, but some do not. So the more books you want at one time, the more storage you need.
• Supported e-book formats - PDF, Word docs, etc. The more the merrier.
If you have ever had trouble swapping a piece of software from one device to another, then expect similar headaches with some e-books.
The Kindle, for instance, only supports its own native format and converts others into its own before showing content.

THE BOTTOM LINE Books never run out of batteries. They are normally light and small, and cheaper than an e-book, which will normally set you back between £169-£203 ($250 and $300), and have pretty pictures on the cover. But a book will not magically morph from a Tolstoy into a Tolkien, and they definitely will not play tunes to you.

As long as the tactile experience of paper is not that important to you, e-books are everything you want from a book and more. But it is still early days. Formats are being sorted out, e-book stores still use proprietary formats and swapping is difficult - it is the early days of MP3 players all over again.

So as always try out your buy. Make sure the screen is readable, and see what formats it uses before you part with money. Or you could end up with little more than an expensive bookend.

Fiza to pen down book on her personal life 'turmoil'

After accepting a role in a Bollywood movie, Fiza, the estrange wife of former Haryana deputy chief minister Chander Mohan alias Chand Mohammad, is all set to write a book on the "turmoil" she is passing through, says a PTI report.

The 37-year-old former assistant advocate general of Haryana said she would highlight in the book the "suffering and exploitation" that she had undergone after her marriage to Chand.

"I have decided to write a book on the way my life has moved so far," Fiza, who claims to have been "deserted" by the Congress MLA and son of former Haryana CM Bhajan Lal, said.

"I would like to make it a point that no body in future get exploited in the hands of powerful and corrupt politicians who have no respect for personal relationships," she said. Chander Mohan married Anuradha Bali alias Fiza in November last year after both of them converted to Islam.
Fiza, who has accepted a lawyer's role in director Kamal Khan's new film Deshdrohi II, based on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, said her "life has been an illustrious example of what a spoiled mentality in connivance with political backing can do".

Meanwhile, Fiza said the option of joining full time politics was open to her but before plunging into it she would actively campaign against her former in-laws, Bhajan Lal or his sons Kuldip Vishnoi and Chandra Mohan in their very stronghold and bring their misdeeds before the people.
"There had been some offers from political parties but I will take the decision on whom to support after after considering all aspects," Fiza said, adding she has an offer from the Haryana unit of the Samajwadi Party to join it.

What's in a cover

Covers are definitely becoming more important as this Deccan Herald story reveals:
“Can I help you with something ma’am? Are you looking for anything in particular?” asked the bookstore owner. “No, thanks. I’m just looking around to see if there’s anything interesting,” she replied and reached out for a fluorescent pink book splattered with contemporary kitsch artwork. The author’s name was unfamiliar, but what had caught her attention had evidently been the cover. A common story in most bookstores today. Whoever said, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’.

With everything from soaps, phones, beverages to films being offered for sale in ‘appealing packages’, book publishers seem to have taken a firm stand to not be left behind. Today’s customers are drawn to the visually appealing and so publishers have started giving more importance to all that is included in book design — call it aesthetics, call it marketing strategy, call it whatever you want.“The book cover is the first point of interaction with a prospective buyer. With so many titles screaming for attention it becomes one of the most important marketing tools. When we re-jacket an existing title, sales tend to increase quite instantly. We re-jacketed Amitav Ghosh’s backlist last year and were delighted to have book lovers buying their favourite titles even though they owned previous editions,” says Bena Sareen, art director of Penguin Books.

For full story

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Uncle's life in imperial India inspires author

A man was so inspired by his late great-uncle’s bravery as a soldier in 1930s India, he penned a novella in his honour, says the Kilnarnock Standard. James Coghlan, 36, wrote The Impossible Journey after discovering photographs and negatives relating to his uncle, John Coghlan, who was an intelligence officer in India with the Indian Imperial Army.

And as his uncle had never spoke about his work in India, and the amazing journey he made from Rawalpindi to London by car in 1939, he had to summon up his imagination to piece together the details – without ever having set foot in the country.

James, a former pupil of Kilmarnock Academy, finally travelled to India in January to launch the book at the Scotland-Kolkata (Calcutta) Connections 2009 festival’s book fair, where he received a warm welcome. “Although I have never been to India, it is my love for the country that egged me on to write this book,” said James.

Get books free on London Tube

Books are being loaned to commuters on the London Underground in a scheme aimed at giving readers an alternative to free newspapers, according to a BBC report. Novels are handed out free to commuters outside five Tube stations once a month in the Choose What You Read scheme.

They are returned the following month or to a central London "drop" box. Co-founder Alfie Boyd said: "Everyone enjoys reading a nice story rather than about a useless celebrity that no-one really cares about too much." He began the scheme with friend Claire Wilson to give commuters an alternative to the "tonnes of free newspapers dished out and thrown away every day".
All the books were donated to the scheme by the pair's friends and members of the public.

Books Americans want banned

Khaled Hosseini has joined the illustrious ranks of Philip Pullman and the authors of a story about gay penguins, after his novel The Kite Runner became one of the books that inspired most complaints in America last year, according to Guardian report.

The bestselling and critically acclaimed title, the story of a 12-year-old Afghan and his betrayal of his best friend, includes the rape of a boy, and provoked challenges in the US over what objectors saw as sexual content and offensive language. Some objections led to the removal of the book from library shelves, while others saw it replaced with bowdlerised versions minus the offending scenes, according to the American Library Association, which compiles an annual list of the most challenged titles in the country.

Topping this list in 2008 was, for the third year running, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell's And Tango Makes Three, a children's book about two male penguins who bring up an orphaned chick. Based on a newspaper story the authors saw about a zookeeper who noticed two of his penguins trying to hatch a stone, the book was criticised for being pro-gay, anti-religion and anti-family.

"Books that address same-sex parenting, or same-sex relationships, are particularly prone to challenges in the US," said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA's office for intellectual freedom, which has collected information on challenged books for the last 20 years. "In the case of And Tango Makes Three, there are many parents who believe it inappropriate to teach children anything at all about homosexual relationships, even in the form of a picture book about a true story."

Another stalwart of the ALA's list, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, rose to second place overall in 2008 from fourth the previous year, distressing challengers over its political viewpoint, religious viewpoint and violent scenes. Last year Pullman said his immediate reaction on hearing the news was "glee". "They never learn," he said. "The inevitable result of trying to ban something – book, film, play, pop song, whatever – is that far more people want to get hold of it than would ever have done if it were left alone. Why don't the censors realise this?"

Caldwell-Stone said the film of The Golden Compass, based on the first novel in Pullman's trilogy, had renewed attacks on the sequence from Catholic pressure groups. "In many cases school boards reacted precipitously and removed it – then a few weeks later they returned it to the shelves," she said.

This year, challengers appeared to be focusing their efforts on more recent releases, with Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which had drawn criticism for racism), Alice Walker's The Color Purple (challenged for sexual content, homosexual content and offensive language) and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (sexual content) all dropping out of the top 10 after riding high last year.

The ALA recorded 513 challenges in 2008, up from 420 in 2007. The ALA defines a challenge as "a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school, requesting that materials be removed or restricted because of content or appropriateness". It estimates that as few as one in five challenges are actually reported. "We believe this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Caldwell-Stone.

74 books were actually removed from shelves following challenges last year, the ALA said, ranging from Jodi Picoult's bestselling novel My Sister's Keeper, pulled for its sexually explicit content, to Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which includes references to masturbation. Alexie's comments at the time echoed Pullman's, with the author telling local press that "the amazing thing is these banners never understand they are turning this book into a sacred treasure. We don't write to try and be banned, but it is widely known in the [young adult] world, we love this shit."

"While not every book is right for each reader, every reader has the right to choose reading materials for themselves and their families and should be able to find those materials in libraries, classrooms, and bookstores. Our goal is to protect one of our most precious fundamental rights - our freedom to read," said Caldwell-Stone.

The ALA celebrates all banned and challenged books every year with Banned Books Week, founded by Judith Krug, a tireless anti-censorship campaigner who died last week after a long illness, aged 69. Often quoted as saying that "censorship dies in the light of day", Krug was the director of the ALA's office for intellectual freedom and executive director of its Freedom to Read Foundation for more than 40 years.

"Judith had an abiding faith in the power of 'the community of the book' – she was convinced that when librarians, publishers, booksellers, and authors stand together in defence of intellectual freedom we are unstoppable. She believed in our obligation to take on that fight wherever and whenever it arose, and more often than not she led the charge," said Judith Platt, president of the Freedom to Read Foundation. "She considered librarianship to be the highest of callings and there is an entire generation of librarians out there whose commitment to intellectual freedom was forged and shaped by Judith Krug."

The ALA's top ten most frequently challenged books of 2008 in full:
1. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
2. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence
3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R series by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
4. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
5. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, violence
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
7. Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
8. Uncle Bobby's Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited to age group
9. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
10. Flashcards of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Coelho's new book to release on April 22

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho's new novel, The Winner Stands Alone is to release worldwide on April 22. And for a change this will be date of launch for India too. prior to this, Coelho's books have come to India fairly after it has been launched in the West.

Coelho's Brida was launched last year. The book will be available in leading bookstores across India and the world from April 22 onwards.

Coelho, whose bestseller The Alchemist has been or is a #1 bestseller in 74 countries, received the 2009 Guinness World Record for the most translated author of the same book. Now, in his 12th novel once again returns to the themes that have inspired millions around the globe: the search for our true self, the fear and price of fame, and how wealth, excess, and superficiality can lead to the loss of relationships and spiritual values.

Brida was a huge success in India. According to Lipika Bhushan, Marketing Manager HCI, “We sold a whooping 75,000 copies of his earlier title Brida and are looking to double the figure with The Winner Stands Alone.”

The Winner Stands Alone is set in the exciting worlds of fashion and cinema. Taking place over the course of twenty-four hours during the Cannes Film Festival, it is the story of Igor, a successful, driven Russian entrepreneur who will go to the darkest lengths to reclaim a lost love—his ex-wife, Ewa. Believing that his life with Ewa was divinely ordained, Igor once told her that he would destroy whole worlds to get her back. The conflict between an individual evil force and society emerges, and as the novel unfolds, morality is derailed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

UI to celebrate Kabir legacy

"Kabir Lives!," a festival of events celebrating the legacy of the 15th century weaver-poet Kabir, will take place Thursday and Friday, April 16 and 17 in Iowa City and on the University of Iowa campus. The festival features five folk musicians from India, a documentary filmmaker and a noted scholar and translator.

"Kabir was a radical mystic from a low-caste community in North India, whose songs challenged both Hindus and Muslims to move beyond their prejudices," said Phil Lutgendorf, a professor in the UI Department of Asian and Slavic Languages in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences ( CLAS ) and the South Asian Studies Programme co-director. "He is still enormously popular today and his presence can be found in multiple social, religious and political locations. His poems are quoted in everyday speech and appear in vibrantly diverse forms of music."

Linda Hess of Stanford University, a scholar and translator of Kabir, has organized an American tour by a group of celebrated Kabir folksingers and an award-winning documentary filmmaker.
The tour's visit to Iowa includes the two-day program in Iowa City.

A film screening of Had-Anhad: Bound-Unbound: Journeys with Ram and Kabir will take place at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 16 in 3505 Seamens Center on the University of Iowa campus. The film is a documentary that features performances by contemporary Kabir singers in both India and Pakistan. Virmani will answer questions following the screening.

The festival continues at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 17, with a book reading and conversation with Hess at Prairie Lights Bookstore. Hess will discuss and read from her celebrated translation of Kabir's Bijak and her forthcoming book, Singing Emptiness. At 8 p.m. on Friday, there will be a concert by Prahlad Singh Tipaniya and Party at Trinity Episcopal Church.
All events are free and open to the public.

The singers, Prahlad Singh Tipanya and Party, hail from a village in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh State. A member of India's Dalit, former "untouchable" community, Tipanya has gained wide recognition as an exponent of Kabir's music and message. In March of 2008, he received the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi, a national foundation for the arts award for his achievements.

Tipanya's group, accompanied by Hess, toured many American cities and campuses in 2003, to great acclaim. This year's return tour was inspired by the completion of filmmaker Shabnam Virmani's four documentaries on the radical saint poet's legacy: Journeys with Kabir, and by the imminent release of Hess' new book on the Kabir musical tradition, Singing Emptiness. Virmani and Hess are accompanying the five musicians.

Sponsors for the Iowa City festival include the following: UI South Asian Studies Program; UI International Programs; the UI Department of Religious Studies and UI School of Music, both in the UI CLAS; Trinity Episcopal Church, Grinnell College, Kala Mandali: Friends of South Asian Arts; the Singh Foundation; and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

For more information visit http://international.uiowa.edu/ or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACTS: Philip Lutgendorf, 319-335-2157, philip-lutgendorf@uiowa.edu; Meena Khandelwal, 319-335-2496, meena-khandelwal@uiowa.edu; Kelli Andresen, 319-335-2026, kelli-andresen@uiowa.edu

Manmohan to release Narayana Murthy's book

The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will take off from his busy Advani heckling schedule on April 19 to launch Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy's new book. The book will be launched at his residence in Delhi.

The book, called A Better India: A Better World, is the second to come out of an Infosys leader in recent months. Nandan Nilekani's Imagining India came out in August last year.

Murthy's book is a vision of what he feels India needs to do to get better. It is in the form of an Introduction followed by a series of lectures delivered over the years.

The book covers many aspects of Indian life, from globalisation to education, politics, values, morals and of course a very brief section on Infosys.

The book will be published under Penguin's Allen Lane imprint.

Disney enters India

Disney Publishing Worldwide (India), a division of Walt Disney Company (India), has announced a licensing agreement with local publisher Junior Diamond to publish Disney comic books, both in English and Hindi, says a Business Standard report.

Featuring Disney’s characters, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, the 32-page comic book will be priced at Rs 25. Roshini Bakshi, regional director, Disney Consumer Products said, “Every month, we will print 50,000 copies for each character and launch 2 titles under Mickey and Donald respectively per month.” Disney is gunning to reach 10,000 points-of-interest within the first month of launch.

Disney also plans to launch comic books on its proprietary character of Princess, which includes titles such as Snowhite & Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella among others. “While we are not producing content from India, we won’t rule out the possibility in near future to localise the comics’ content for our readers,” said Bakshi. Also on the cards are comic books in regional languages for the south India market.

Disney Publishing Worldwide, which publishes 274 million copies of children’s magazines worldwide, sells nearly 120 million children’s books annually. Bakshi said, “Our internal research tells us that kids aged between 6 and 14 years are receptive to reading comic books provided the content is engaging enough.” Diamond comics, who also publish four monthly magazines, will distribute the comics to leading bookstores in time for the April school holidays.

The New York-based Disney Publishing has over 340 regular titles available in more than 80 countries around the globe.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rushdie's Midnight Children to be filmed

Salman Rushdie's best known work, Midnight's Children, which won the Booker of Bookers, is to made into a film directed by Deepa Mehta.

Incidentally, the film will also see an appearance by the author, in keeping with Mehta's style. The film is expected to release in 2010.

Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das and Seema Biswas are said to be in the cast. Rushdie and mehta will co write the script.

The book, which was released in 1981, is a fictional account of Saleem Sinai, who was born at the stroke of the midnight hour, August 15, 1947.

Language rights of Solo sold in 6 countries

After being successfully published in the English language by HarperCollins Worldwide in February 2009, Rana Dasgupta's second novel, Solo will now be published by Gallimard Publisher in France, Karl Blessing in Germany, Janet 45 in Bulgaria, Signatuur in Netherlands, Aschehoug in Norway and by Feltrinelli in Italy.

The book has garnered unprecedented media attention worldwide and has had excellent reviews in major literary spaces. In India, the book is already in its first hardcover reprint.

Solo is a kaleidoscopic novel about the life and daydreams of Ulrich, a one hundred-year-old man from Bulgaria. Before the man lost his sight, he read a story in a magazine. A group of explorers came upon a community of parrots speaking the language of a society that had been wiped out in a recent catastrophe. Astonished by this discovery, they put the parrots in cages and sent them home so that linguists could record what remained of the lost language. But the parrots, already traumatised by the devastation they had recently witnessed, died on the way.

Wondering if, unlike these hapless parrots, he has any wisdom to leave to the world, Ulrich embarks on an epic armchair journey through the twists and turns of his country’s turbulent century – and through his own lifetime of lost love and failed chemistry. Set in a country that has belonged sometimes to Asia and sometimes to Europe, Solo is a book about lost roots, broken traditions and wasted ambitions – and the ways human beings overcome those failures.

Where is god?

Well, here's someone who proudly goes against the big guy in this god-fearing country.

Tejeshwar Singh, an entrepreneur, has written a books called I’ve Had Enough… God!!! on the mysterious aspects of Human Life.

The book was launched by Jagmohan, former governor of Jammu and Kashmir and prolific writer, on April 10 at Conference Room 3, India International Centre, Annexe, Max Muller Marg, New Delhi.

The book is about waking up to the fact that there is no god. How would you feel if one day you suddenly come to know that there’s no such thing called God? How would you feel if you come to know that the very people who claim to be worshipping god for thousands of years actually knew all along that god was never more than just a name, and that they would forever enjoy ‘free will’?
I’ve Had Enough… God!!! rattles the reader’s mind and jolts him with the question –Does God exist? If yes, then why has the naked human eye not seen him from years now? This precisely is the dilemma faced by the 20- year-old protagonist called Pawan. This fiction-fact combination has made a sincere effort to touch the most mysterious aspects of human life, the answers to which he’s still trying to decipher.

Tejeshwar Singh is an entrepreneur based in Delhi. Inherently curious, he was always riddled with questions about the world. In his maiden book, combined with fiction and facts, he has made a sincere effort to touch the most mysterious aspects of human life, the answers to which he’s still trying to decipher.

Wisdom Tree hope to make a splash in London

Wisdom Tree is exhibiting at the London Book fair and have organised book launches of Indian by Choice on 19th April at the Indian High Commissioner's residence and Indian Saris and Indian Birds in Focus on 20th April at the Nehru Centre.

The Indian Saris launch will also see a panel discussion where scholars from UK would participate, the invite is attached for reference. Wisdom Tree has also placed an advertisement in the prestigious Bookseller magazine.

OBIT: Author Vishnu Prabhakar dead

Noted Hindi writer Vishnu Prabhkar died after prolonged illness in Delhi on April 11. He was 97.

Prabhakar had been suffering from cancer for the last one and half years.

Prabhakar was born on Jan 12, 1912. His first work was published in 1931 in the Milap newspaper. he wrote novels, plays and and even books for children in his long and illustrious writing career. He is best known for Awara Masiha. a biography of Saratchandra Chattopadhyaya, the great Bangla writer. A stauch Gandhian, he was always seen sporting the gandhi topi.

Among the awards he won were the Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi and Gyanpith.

According to his wishes, his body was donated for medical research.

Kannada conference discusses language

The 26th conference of the Kannada speakers was held in Delhi on April 12. Among the demands was the demand to give constitutional recognition to the Kodavas and Kannada script and Tulu languages.

The conference discussed the state of Kannada language and literature. It also had a poet's meet and a book exhibition.

Bobby Jindal to write book

The Governor of the Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, is to pen his memoirs.

He has reached an agreement with an eminent US publisher to write a book "on the lessons he has learnt throughout his life," according to an Economic Times report. The book set to be released in 2010 has further fuelled speculation of his expected Presidential run in 2012, even though Jindal, a rising star of the Republican party, and his office were quick to deny it.

Although a contract is yet to be signed, The Times-Picayune reported that Jindal has reached an agreement with Regnery Publishing, which has published political tomes by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, actor Chuck Norris and political commentator Ann Coulter, among others.

Jindal said the book will be a mix of biographical material, "lessons I've learnt throughout my life" and his thoughts on a range of policy issues, the newspaper said. "I just want to offer my ideas and my experiences to the conversation," the Louisianan Governor was quoted as saying.

The Times-Picayune said much of the work on the book will be done by a co-author, Peter Schweizer, a Florida-based writer whose previous work includes non-fiction books about the Bush family and President Ronald Reagan, and a novel co-authored with former Secretary of Defence Caspar Weinberger.

Online libraries a hit in Delhi

An Indian Express feature says that even as public libraries are closing, online ones are mushrooming.

An avid reader, IT consultant Shilpa Srivastava reads several titles simultaneously. But her method of borrowing books has changed over the past one year. She no more visits the local library — instead, she has moved to home delivery.

Maisra Malik, 32, a librarian herself and member of several others, also borrows books online. At a time when public libraries are steadily losing readers, online book rental services, merely two years old as a business, are gaining customers in the city. Ironically, however, the service came riding on the demise of a ‘real’ bookshop.

Read full story

Book to help Bahadur Shah Zafar’s kin

All the past Prime Ministers of the country and Manmohan Singh, will in a way contribute to help the surviving kin of Bahadur Shah Zafar, India’s last Emperor. Proceeds from the sale of Prime Ministers of India: Bharat Bhagya Vidhata, a coffee table book on the 14 Prime Ministers, will go to rehabilitate Sultana Begum, Bahadur Shah’s great granddaughter-in-law who currently ekes out a living selling tea on the streets of Kolkata, says a PTI report.

The 534-page hard bound 12x12 illustrated book, scheduled for release at the end of this month, details the performance of the leaders as well as their achievements and the controversies they survived, starting from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr. Singh.

Compiled by journalist Shivnath Jha and his wife Neena, it is the fourth book in the Andolan Ek Pustak Se movement, which was launched by the duo in 2007, to publish one book a year to honour and help “those who have brought laurels to the country.”

“Sultana Begum runs a tea stall in the Cowies Ghat slum in Howrah district. She lives in squalid conditions and earns a living to support her family. We hope we can help her through the royalty we earn from the book,” Jha told PTI. The “Andolan Ek ...” series was begun with a Monograph on Ustad Bismillah Khan to draw attention to the plight of the ailing shehnai maestro. Other books in the series include Lalu Prasad: India’s Miracle, and India calling — to commemorate India entering 60th year of Independence.

“It was 28 years ago that Sultana’s husband died and she approached the West Bengal government for help. The State government gave her a flat, but she was forced to move out by local goons. She is now living a life of penury,” said Jha.

“Earlier, we used the sale proceeds from the book on Bismillah Khan to rehabilitate Vinayak Rao Tope, the great grandson of Tantya Tope, a frontline leader of the 1857 uprising,” says the journalist.

The book, which is priced at Rs 8,000, includes writings by eminent personalities. It incorporates Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s lecture “Living Politics: What India has taught me.” While historian Bipin Chandra has contributed a piece on Pandit Nehru, Hashmukh Shah, who was personal secretary to Morarji Desai, has given a detailed account of the late Prime Minister in his article.

The former Union Minister, Yashwant Sinha, has written a piece on the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, while Sunil Shastri has written on his father, the late Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh has contributed an article on his father, the late Chaudhary Charan Singh. Several journalists have wielded their pen with pieces on Chandra Shekhar, HD Deve Gowda, VP Singh and IK Gujral.

Gay-themed books deranked on Amazon

A "glitch" on Amazon.com has caused the sales rank to be removed from gay- and/or lesbian-themed books by James Baldwin, Gore Vidal and others, says an AP report.

"There was a glitch in our systems and it's being fixed," Amazon's director of corporate communications, Patty Smith, said in an e-mail on Sunday.

As of Sunday night, books without rankings included Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Vidal's The City and the Pillar and Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. The removals prompted furious remarks on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere online. Craig Seymour, author of the gay memoir All I Could Bare, wrote on his blog Sunday that his sales rank was dropped in February, then restored nearly four weeks later, after he was told by Amazon that his book had been "classified as an Adult product."

Konkani books released

Konkani legend 'Konkan Kogul' - Wilfy Rebimbus’ book Kogull Gaithaa, was released in Mangalore on Saturday.

It comprises of songs of Wilfy Rebimbus from 50 volumes of his albums and ‘Kogulle Patlyaan’, a research made on his songs and lyrics by Stella D’Costa (Nandini). They were released at the Sahodaya Hall as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of the United Youngsters, Jeppu.

Founder of Banned Books Week dead

Judith Krug, a director of the Chicago-based American Library Association and a founder of its Banned Books Week, has died, according to an AP report. She was 69.

Judith Platt, president of the ALA's Freedom to Read Foundation, says Krug (KROOG) died late on Saturday at Evanston Hospital in suburban Chicago following a battle with stomach cancer. She says Krug had been ill for more than a year.

She had been head of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom since 1967. Banned Books Weeks has been observed since 1982 during the last week of September. ALA officials say the event celebrates intellectual freedom.
On the Net:http://www.ala.org/bbooks

Friday, April 10, 2009

Urdu poetry festival in Delhi

An annual mushaira of Urdu poetry, Jashn-e-Bahar begins in Delhi on April 10.

Besides Indian poets from various parts of the country, poets are also expected from US, UK and China.

Rahul Gandhi invokes Oriya poet

That Orissa is a frontline state in the battle for elections 2009 is becoming clearer by the day. And parties are invoking one and all to help them win seats.

Well, Congress scion Rahul Gandhi started his campaign on April 8 by invoking Bhima Bhoi, a famous poet from the region as his two-day campaign started from Rairakhol.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Indian publishers hope to strike it big in London

The British Council on April 9 yet again saw the organisers of the London Book Fair call on the press to spread their message of India being the focus country this year. India is the focus country this year, and the organisers are hoping their will be some interest in Indian books, and not just literature in the light of both India being the flavour of the season, as well as in a way rescuing the beleaguered western publishing industry.

Alistair Burtenshaw had visited India to drum up support earlier in the year, both among the publishers and the media. The fair is to be held from April 20-22 and at this time, 94 Indian publishers are already signed up, informs Sujata Sen of the British Council.

The London Book Fair is one of the largest book fairs in the world, and is especially known for its rights section, which is touted to be the largest in the world.

51 Indian authors are slated to appear. 40 odd events will see writers from 14 Indian languages participate.

Harper launches business imprint

HarperCollins launched its business imprint "Collins Business" on April 8.

Its first original title is Making Breakthrough Innovation Happen - 11 Indians Who Pulled Off the Impossible by Porus Munshi. The aim was to bring more indigenous business books in the Indian market, the publishers said.

Krishan Chopra, publisher and chief editor of Collins Business, said the imprint reflected the creative verve and the new global business environment as it competes with and wins against the best in the world. "Most business books in the market are American or British imports. There is a need for Indian books with local case studies. Collins Business aims to meet that need. At the same time, Collins Business will bring the best of international publishing relevant in the Indian context," Chopra said.

HarperCollins chief executive PN Sukumar said Collins Business would contribute to at least 10 percent of the total list of titles published each year. "We are looking at an average of 5,000 copies for titles released under this imprint," Sukumar said.

Forthcoming titles include Branding India: An Incredible Story, Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement, More than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places, and Breakthrough Initiative, the statement said.

Kindle under attack

E readers may well be the future, but at present, they are under attack. According to a WSJ report, Amazon is facing flak on various fronts.

On Tuesday, a group representing members of the US National Federation of the Blind and the American Association of People with Disabilities staged a protest over limitations in the Kindle’s read-aloud feature. Last month, Amazon said it would amend the feature to give publishers and authors the ability restrict it at the request of the Authors Guild, which says voice performances of books require separate contracts. During the protest outside the New York headquarters of Authors Guild, protestors chanted “Stop the greed, we want to read.”

A separate backlash about Amazon’s prices for e-books has been building for weeks among Kindle owners. On Amazon’s own site, hundreds of readers have argued that charging more than $9.99 for many e-books is highway robbery. They even created a user-generated tag — “9 99boycott” for the more than 800 e-books in the Amazon store that they feel cost too much.
Publishers set suggested retail prices for all their books, printed and electronic. They sell them to Amazon and others retailers for a discount based on the suggested retail price — so discounting to the consumer happens at the retailers’ discretion. Simon & Schuster, for example, says that the suggested retail price of their e-books mirrors the price of the most recently published printed edition of a book (hardcover or paperback).

Amy Hoy, a 24-year-old living in Vienna, Austria, helped stoke the $9.99 protest with posts on Amazon’s discussion boards. She says she got her Kindle last November, and has bought more than 60. “I go through novels like a toddler goes through Goldfish crackers,” she said.
“After the initial few months gorging on $5-8 novels, I was shocked as some of the prices for the Kindle books I was shopping for seemed to be rising dramatically and noticeably,” she said. After hearing the same complaint from other Kindle users, she decided to formalize a protest in the discussion board, offering technical instructions on how to tag books on the Amazon site as over-priced.

She doesn’t think all books should cost less than $10 — but thinks the digital versions without considerable extra bells and whistles should cost less than a paperback that can be passed along to a friend. “I bought a $350 device just to face this kind of brain-dead economic decision,” she said. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on either issue.

Business books on the double

The financial crisis is happening so fast that books about it can be outdated before they hit the shelves, says a Reuters feature. Some US publishers and authors are responding by bringing books to market faster. While it normally takes 9 to 12 months from the time an author turns in a manuscript to when a book is released, that is down to just a few months for some publishers trying to keep up with the 24-hour information age.

One example is A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, a book about the collapse of Lehman Brothers by former vice president Lawrence McDonald. Crown will publish it in July, after acquiring the manuscript only last month. "With something as current as this, unless your timing is right, you can lose your audience for it," said John Mahaney, executive editor of Crown Business. Crown is a division of Random House, part of Bertelsmann AG.

Changing events are an added burden for authors. Shari Olefson's Foreclosure Nation -Mortgaging the American Dream was due to be published in October last year, but when the economic meltdown erupted she realized it would be "wrong and outdated." "Really the whole book had to be rewritten," she said. After resubmitting her manuscript at the end of December the book was published late last month by Prometheus Books.

"Writing a book about an ongoing financial crisis is like herding cats, it's just really challenging," Olefson said.
Simon & Schuster, part of CBS Corp, is publishing several books related to the financial crisis that it says have been turned around at a faster rate of four to six months

"Books that are related to any ongoing, shifting crisis are best published as close to when they're written as possible," said David Rosenthal, Simon & Schuster executive vice president and publisher.

Among them is Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Now by Felix Rohatyn, released in February, just as the U.S. government was considering stimulus plans.

Meanwhile, Public Affairs released The New Paradigm for Financial Markets as an e-book in March last year, just 10 days after billionaire investor George Soros submitted his manuscript. A print copy was out just two weeks later and a paperback with four new chapters came out last month. "Things were moving fast and we wanted to make sure we were in the marketplace," said Peter Osnos, PublicAffairs founder and editor-at-large. "I do think that now you want to hit it hard and fast."

Portfolio, an imprint of Pearson Plc's Penguin Group, will publish Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear , the Toughest Firm on Wall Street by Kate Kelly in May, just three months after receiving the manuscript."Every time there's a big news story like this there tends to be books that are timed to come out in the news cycle before they would normally come out," said Adrian Zackheim, president and publisher of Portfolio.

"The failure of the banks and the resulting economic turmoil is the story of our time right now," he added. Kathryn Popoff, vice president for adult trade books at Borders (BGP.N), said customers want to understand what happened and protect themselves. "The financial crisis has led to several instant books," Popoff said. "The publishers want to be timely and the sooner they can get it out, the closer they can get it to the event happening, the more relevant the book."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Potter author reads to G20 wives

The wife of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among the group of wives of G 20 leaders who got to listen to a reading Harry Potter author, JK Rowling.

The event was hosted by prime minister Gordon Brown's wife Sarah. The wives visited Covent Garden's Royal Opera House, where Rowling entertained them with excerpts from her new book, The Tales Of Beedle The Bard.

Ms Rowling was also a guest at a Downing Street dinner on Wednesday. The women were greeted individually by Mrs Brown as they arrived at the opera house.

Mills and Boon on Facebook now

Romance fans are getting their own version of Facebook thanks to the world's biggest romantic publisher, Mills & Boon, according to a Guardian report.

The publisher, which sells a book every 6.6 seconds in the UK, is launching a social networking site next week in an attempt to up its brand presence online. Just like Facebook and other online communities, users will be able to set up their own profiles, upload photos, make friends and post updates. "Obviously it's not going to be as big as Facebook," admitted digital director Tim Cooper, "but it will work in the same way".

Together with Penguin, Mills & Boon is the only widely recognised publishing brand name in the UK, and claims 180,000 visitors to its website a month. It plans to offer live chats with authors, advice for would-be writers from its editorial staff, forums and reviews on the new community site, which will go live on Monday, linking from Mills & Boon's main website. Members will also be set a "book challenge": if the entire community can read 5,000 books by the end of the year, Mills & Boon will donate 5,000 books to charity.

Márquez not to write anymore

Fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez are facing the prospect that, after a career spanning half a century, Garcia Marquez has finally laid down his pen for good, a Guardian report says.

His agent, Carmen Balcells, told the Chilean newspaper La Tercera : "I don't think that García Márquez will write anything else."

Despite longstanding rumours he would never write again, hopes were raised last year when the Colombian writer Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, a friend, said Marquez was in fact working on a new novel.

But Balcell's comments seem to put paid to that, and were supported by García Márquez's biographer, Gerald Martin, who told La Tercera he too doubts anything new will be published in his lifetime.

"I also believe that Gabo won't write any more books, but I don't think this is too regrettable, because as a writer it was his destiny to have the immense satisfaction of having a totally coherent literary career many years before the end of his natural life," said Martin.

García Márquez has in the past talked openly of the strain placed on him by his literary career. Last December he told fans at Mexico's Guadalajara book fair that he was worn out by writing: "It's a lot of work for me to write books."

He had previously admitted that 2005 "was the first [year] in my life in which I haven't written even a line. With my experience, I could write a new novel without any problems, but people would realise my heart wasn't in it."

García Márquez is best known for One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, and News of a Kidnapping. He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1982. A number of older, completed manuscripts are rumoured to be in his possession, but no decision has been made as to whether they will be published while he is still alive.

Indra Sinha in short list for IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Animal's People by Indian-British writer Indra Sinha, the tale of a crippled street urchin in an Indian slum and the intrigues that follow the arrival of a humanitarian doctor, is on the short list for the 2009 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, announced on April 2.

American writers have nabbed four places on the short list. Among them are Pulitzer-Prize-winner Junot Diaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and debut novelist Michael Thomas for Man Gone Down.

Although several Canadians were nominated, including Michael Ondaatje and Douglas Coupland, none made the short list for the 100,000-euro ($166,650 Cdn) prize, one of the world's most lucrative literary prizes.

Judges also nominated two books in translation and the highly acclaimed The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Pakistani-British writer Mohsin Hamid.

The full list includes:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Dominican-American Díaz, a portrait of a young Dominican man out of step with both America and his parents' homeland.
Ravel by French writer Jean Echenoz (in translation), a quirky portrait of a musical genius.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, the story of a Muslim man's failed life in post-9/11 America.
The Archivist's Story by American Travis Holland, a novel about a Moscow archivist who risks his life to preserve the stories of an imprisoned writer.
The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Norwegian Roy Jacobsen (in translation), the story of what happens in a small village in Finland in 1939 as people flee the invading Russians.
The Indian Clerk by American David Leavitt, the story of the strange relationship between an esteemed British mathematician and an unknown, unschooled mathematical genius.
Animal's People by Indian-British writer Indra Sinha, the tale of a crippled street urchin in an Indian slum and the intrigues that follow the arrival of a humanitarian doctor.
Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas, about a young black father of three trying to negotiate his way through the American Dream.

Last year's winner was Canadian Rawi Hage for De Niro's Game. The nominations are made by public libraries around the world. The winner is to be announced June 11.

Houghton Mifflin CEO to Retire

Tony Lucki, chief executive officer of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co, said in an internal email to colleagues that he has decided to retire as chief executive on April 15, according to a WSJ report.

Lucki will be succeeded as CEO by Barry O'Callaghan, the 39-year-old chairman of the publishing group's parent company, Education Media & Publishing Group Ltd, based in Dublin. Lucki will continue as chairman.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's trade group, which publishes such authors as Philip Roth and Paul Theroux, made news late last year by briefly curtailing purchases of new titles and by laying off some staff. At the same time, Education Media & Publishing Group, which has roughly $7 billion in debt and is primarily a publisher of K-12 textbooks, said it would consider offers for the trade-publishing arm. Education Media said in March that the offers it received weren't sufficient and announced that the trade division was no longer for sale.

In his memo, Lucki noted that he has been associated with both Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt for nearly 30 years. "Recent steps we have taken put the company in an even stronger position to deliver value to our customers and to build on our market leadership. We are on sound operational and financial footing and have great potential to grow our trusted brands and businesses," he said.

Trouble at home

The Business Standard has an article on shoddy standards in book publishing.

For a sector that is just opening up to the international sector and realising there is life beyond distribution, there's a long way to go in terms of quality. It also needs to think where it is going - primarily the text book-based, with a few works of literary fiction thrown in (compared globally our pulp fiction or non fictionjust do not compare in terms of numbers.)

The article says: There’s the rub: despite generally low standards in everything from editing to design, Indian books still find buyers. People in publishing, even if they themselves are sticklers for quality, will say that “Very few people notice,” and “Readers don’t demand better,” or “People have low expectations.” All ultimately settle on the apt and comfortable “Chalta hai”, which seems to have universal application.

Pak Writers Exchange to promote literature

The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) will implement a novel idea of writers’ exchange programme, which will help men of letters explore features of common heritage and age-old historical and cultural links, said a PAL official. This includes exchanges with India, which has almost broken of relations with Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks in Mumbai.

He said the programme would be initiated to promote literature and strengthen the mutual ties among different countries. The programme will include the writers of European countries, Kyrgyzstan, China, India and others, he said.

The official said the programme would also enable the Pakistani writers to share their thoughts and feelings with the writers of other countries, opening a new horizon of knowledge. Using platform of the programme, the writers will understand each other’s concerns by sharing information and experiences about the developments in language, literature and writings of their respective countries, he said.

The official said the PAL had also signed a pact with China for exchange of writers between both the countries annually

AT&T could enter e-book market

AT&T Inc may enter the e-book market, dominated by Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle reader, as the wireless carrier looks beyond phones for new sources of revenue, says a Bloomberg report.

The Kindle has done a “phenomenal job” and AT&T wants to be part of that market, Glenn Lurie, head of emerging devices at AT&T, said. AT&T, the second-largest US mobile phone carrier, is looking for new revenue streams as the pool of people in the US without mobile phones shrinks.

“There’s a whole bunch of ways to monetize that type of device,” Lurie said in an interview with Bloomberg at the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas. “That’s coming, it’s coming fast,” he said. “We’re going to be part of it.” Lurie declined to comment on potential partners or when such a device, which lets customers download the text of books and read them digitally on a tablet, might be released. Amazon.com spokesman Drew Herdener declined to comment.

The paperback-sized Kindle 2, released in February, sells for $359 and holds more than 1,500 books, seven times more than the original model. Users have a choice of more than 230,000 titles, as well as major US. and international newspapers, magazines and blogs.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New online book portal launched

Narayan Murthy, Chairman of the Board and Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies, formally launching Pustak.co.in, an online book store founded by a Bangalore-based start up company. “There are millions of books that are not available directly to buyers in India and need to be sourced from a distributor or publisher from the US. In view of this need, we decided to start a company that could offer the largest database of books to Indian buyers and become the default destination for bibliophiles across the country,” said Anand Rao, founder of Pustak.co.in.

“Our portal is very user-friendly. You can type either the author’s name or the title of the book and we will ship it to you in the shortest period once you have made the purchase. We have made it a point to stock rare and unusual books that are not easily available to the collector in India.

“Imported books constitute 30 per cent of the Indian market and while our initial target is definitely the imported book market, as we grow we hope to stock local titles as well. We would also be open to providing a platform for book exchanges, something along the lines of E bay, among our buyers,” said S N Kumar, Director, Pustak.co.in.

“Internet users are by and large well-educated and constitute 86 per cent of our user base. By targeting this segment we feel we can definitely give India’s e-commerce a big boost since we offer them a choice of over 12 million titles on one portal.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bloomsbury profits fall for 2008

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, the British publisher of the Harry Potter series, posted better than expected full year earnings on March 31 but warned that the outlook remained very tough, an AP report said.

Bloomsbury reported net profit of $11.2 million for the year to December 31 compared to 11.8 million pounds the previous year, when earnings were boosted by the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last volume of JK Rowling's series.

Revenue for 2008, when the company published Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Khalid Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, was down 33 per cent to 99.95 million pounds, down from 150.21 million pounds.

Chief Executive Nigel Newton said the business "continued to prosper even in the harshest economic conditions." Newton said that the company has an "excellent pipeline" of new titles due for release over the coming months across all genres.

"However, there are also a number of risks and areas of caution which have been heightened by the recession," he said. "Visibility has been decreased by the uncertainty of the global market place, though books have fared better than most."

Revenue from books for adults rose 17 per cent to 42.03 million pounds, while reference revenue increased 27 per cent to 19.59 million pounds. But the biggest impact was in the children's division, where sales dropped 158 per cent to 38.33 million pounds.

Bloomsbury shares were almost 10 per cent lower at 115 pence in midmorning trade on the London Stock Exchange.

In India, Bloomsbury has a distribution arrangement with Penguin.

Online publisher markets free textbooks

College textbook publisher Flat World Knowledge raised $8 million in venture capital to broaden its business of selling printed versions of materials that it makes available online for free, says a Reuters report.

The Nyack, New York, US-based company was launched last year by textbook publishing executives Jeff Shelstad and Eric Frank.

Flat World offers students online books for free and the option of paying for a printed copy, which typically costs less than a comparable textbook from a college store. The textbook Principles of Microeconomics, for example, costs $30 for a black-and-white copy and $60 for one in colour.

"The idea here is the cost of textbooks has gone up dramatically over the last 10 years," says Hooks Johnston, general partner at venture firm Valhalla Partners, the largest investor in the startup. Other VC investors include Greenhill SAVP and High Peaks Venture Partners.
"For a community college student, 40 percent of the cost of attending school is the textbook cost," Johnston adds.

The impact of escalating textbook prices has been documented by regulators, educational institutions and student groups. Today, the typical student spends more than $900 on college books a year, according to the student-led advocacy group Make Textbooks Affordable. College textbook prices, meanwhile, have increased at twice the rate of inflation since the mid-1980s, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), published in 2005.
Publishers are also releasing new editions more frequently, partly in response to the growth of the used textbook market. The GAO found that the most widely purchased textbooks on college campuses have new editions published every three years, on average.

Johnston says he was drawn to invest in the startup Flat World in part because of the huge market for college textbooks. Nationwide, the total college textbook and course materials market was estimated at $5.5 billion for the 2006-2007 academic years, according to the National Association of College Stores.

Flat World is one of several venture-funded startups in the educational publishing space seeking to provide a lower-cost method for delivering textbooks to college students.

In addition to Flat World, at least two other textbook-focused businesses have raised funding in the past year. Chegg, a textbook rental website, raised $33.3 million in 2007 and 2008 from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, Gabriel Venture Partners and Maples Management. Better World Books, which collects and sells used books and donates some profits to literacy causes, raised $4 million last spring from Good Capital and individual investors.

Oriya publisher enters record books

One poverty stricken publisher has recorded his name in the Limca Book of Records by publishing a magazine in 60 languages.

Fund crunch failed to prevent Bijaya Kumar Mohapatra, 40, from fulfilling his long cherished dream of publishing a magazine in 64 languages and entering the Limca Book of Records. An attempt that started in 1990 with publication of 'Suna Bhaunei' in Oriya and subsequently the 'Loving Sister' in English in 1992 has now 60 versions in different languages. With financial assistance of Rs 5,000 from his brother-in-law Mohapatra has published.

Other versions of the magazine are Payri Bahan ( 1992) in Hindi, Loving sister (1992) in English, Sona Bona(1992) in Bengali, Vahali Bahen (1998)in Gujarati, Priyamania Chellelu(1998) in Telgu, Subrana Bhagani (1998) in Sanskrit, Priya Sodari (1998) in Kannad, Pyari Bahen (1999) in Urudu, Maramara Bharti (1999) in Assemese, Anbu Sagothari (1999) in Tamil , Pyari Bhen (1999) in Sindhi, Piari Bhen (1999) in Punjabi, Priya Tai (2000) in Marathi, Dulaliya Misera (2000) in Santhali, Priya Sahodari (2000) in in Malayalam, Pyari Bahini (2000) in Nepali, Nungsirabi Icha (2001) in Manipuri, Mogal Bhayana (2001) in Konkani, Suna Bahen (2001) in Koshali, Ladi Bhen (2003) in Dogari, Suna Angi (2004) in Kui, Dulari Bahin (2004) in Bhojapuri, Tyath Byani (2004) in Kashmiri, Suna Bahen (2004) in Dam, Dulari Bahin (2004) in Maithili and other languages. Much to his satisfaction and to the appreciation of many, the magazine even appears in dialects as little known as Angika Bajika, Magahai and Ho.

Despite poverty of his family and absence of any support from the administration for his effort, Mohapatra has made history in his region by publishing in 60 languages. He has also established a mini library cum museum in his Pakanpur village in which he has stored several old publications and manuscripts. His collection of antiques, old coins, postal stamps, and photographs have also been displayed in the museum. He is also bringing out a weekly of children's literature, 'The World Children's Literature' in English, Oriya, and Hindi since 2001.

Editor, Limca Book of Records Vijaya Ghose has awarded him for editing and publishing children's magazine in most languages over past 20 years. He succeeded in bringing out the magazines in 50 languages by 2007. Mohapatra said that he has determined to publish this magazine in other 240 languages in future.

Poverty is no bar but strong will and determination has made me success to achieve this award bringing proud for my effort. District collector Mr Pramoda Kumar Meherdha and eminent littérateur Mr Mohendra Kuamr Acharay, eminent social activist Mr Akshaya Kumar Behera , local legislator Mr Bishnu Das and others have praised him for his out standing performance in his litterateur work.