This industry is scaling new heights every year with the textbooks and non-formal books publishing sectors growing at over 15 percent annually
Prophets of doom who predicted the early demise of the traditional paper and print publishing industry following the rapid develop-ment of new digital technologies, and advent of e-publishing options such as the Amazon Kindle, have been proved wrong. The book publishing industry in India is scaling new heights every year with the textbooks and non-formal books publishing sectors growing at over 15 percent annually. With an annual output of 8 billion per year, India is the world’s third largest producer nation of English language books after the US and Britain. Unsurprisingly, with its large population of English-proficient middle class, India is now also a preferred outsourcing destination of foreign publishers, especially in the English language.
For the proverbial bookworm who loves to curl up with a good book and is equipped with a sizeable vocabulary, a career in publishing is ideal. You not only get to read a plethora of books but also to contract, commission, edit and/or write books the public and various segments within it like to read.
Editorial, production and marketing constitute the core activities of books publishing. The editorial department focuses on commissioning, writing, editing, proofing and evolution of a book from the manuscript stage to what finally appears on retail bookshelves in the marketplace. The editor and chief editor direct the policy of every publishing house, manage sub-editors, proof-readers, designers etc and coordinate their work.
Aspiring book editors should possess a graduate degree in any discipline as a minimum requirement, and a post-graduate qualification in journalism or publishing. Excellent command of English and proven editing skills are mandatory, unless you are proficient in a regional language and ready to work in vernacular publishing. Expertise is very important, so internship experience with a publishing firm is an added advantage. Those who prefer careers in management, sales, administration and publicity departments should ideally possess postgraduate qualifications.
Although specific academic qualifi-cations in publishing are not prescribed as people learn on the job, with competition becoming fierce they are an advantage. Various institutions and universities offer specialised progr-ammes in book publishing. Among the more reputed are the Institute of Book Publishing, New Delhi; National Book Trust, Delhi; Centre for Studies in Book Publishing, University of Calcutta, and Government Institute of Printing Technology, Secunderabad.
A slew of job opportunities are available in the publishing industry. One can work in private publishing firms, publication departments of educational and charitable organi-sations, cultural trusts and publication divisions of government agencies. Opportunities abound not only in India but abroad as well, with major international publishing firms planting their flags in the growing Indian marketplace. In this industry, career progression tends to be fast from entry point as assistant editor to editor, senior editor, managing editor and chief editor. Salaries vary from firm to company, but entry-level postgrads can expect Rs.20,000-25,000 per month with foreign publishing companies inclined to be more generous. Freelance and content writing are also lucrative options.
“These are exciting times for the book publishing industry. More youngsters are reading, going to schools and colleges and a wider range of books of all genres are being published, enabling the industry to grow at 10-15 percent annually. Currently more than 1,500 publishing companies are engaged in English and vernacular languages publishing,” says Akash Shah, an alumnus of America’s Rochester and Columbia univerities and proprietor of Jaico Publishing House, India’s first publisher of paperbacks in the English language, founded in 1946 by his grandfather, Jaman Shah.
According to Shah, Jaico is among the top five Indian book publishing firms with over 125 new titles per year covering subjects as diverse as self-help, religion, philosophy, business, travel, current affairs, biographies and popular science books by globally renowned authors published in eight-nine languages. “Our renewed focus on popular fiction is evident in our new titles written by a host of young authors in India and abroad,” says Shah.
Although a pioneer of the popular book publishing ind-ustry, and particularly renowned for its affordably priced self-help and development books, this 66-year-old publishing firm is not unwilling to move with the times. “Soon all our titles will also be available in electronic media. The shift towards reading on digital platforms is gaining momentum. A recent survey conducted in the US indicates that the number of e-book readers is four times the population of traditional book readers. By digitising our content and making it available on all electronic devices, we will ensure we reach much wider audiences. Initially, our fiction titles will be published electronically with others still available in print form,” says Shah, who believes that “opportunities are abundant” in this booming industry for youth with good editorial and social media marketing skills.
A message which should be sweet music for bookworms.
Indra Gidwani (Mumbai)