2018 was phenomenal, perfect for books, say publishers
NEW DELHI: Noble Laureate Toni Morrison once said: "If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it."
Perhaps authors - both established and aspiring - and publishers were inspired by Morrison's words in 2018 as the year saw hundreds of books being brought out in almost all genres.
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Besides numerous autobiographies and biographies, there were books on business, commercial and mass market fiction, literary fiction, self-help, chick-lit and culinary besides graphic novels and children's storybooks.
HarperCollins India Chief Executive Officer Ananth Padmanabhan says 2018 was a "perfect year at HarperCollins - with a fabulous line up of books that we've published and won awards for. With three publisher of the year awards, including one this year, we are now India's most awarded publishing house. Our children's publishing which has just celebrated its first birthday has brought so much cheer to our catalogue."
According to Milee Ashwarya, Publisher of Ebury Publishing and Vintage Publishing, 2018 was a "significant year for Penguin Random House India in which books across genres found success and won awards".
Juggernaut publisher Chiki Sarkar says it had its best ever year since its launch in 2016.
"We have had a number of highly-acclaimed books which included Amitabha Bagchi's 'Half the Night is Gone' which many have called as the best novel of the year. Our books have been shortlisted and longlisted for most of the Indian prizes and our fantastic author Benyamin won the inaugural JCB Prize," she says.
"We have also done very well commercially - it's our biggest year for revenues and we had two Neilson Bookscan no 1's - Twinkle Khanna and Sourav Ganguly with Khanna's novel 'Pyjamas are Forgiving' becoming her fastest selling book. On the app side, we finished creating Airtel Books which we launch early next year and had a very successful integration inside Railyatri, the country's top train booking app," Sarkar told PTI.
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Bloomsbury India also says it "had a phenomenal 2018 with sales growth in excess of 30 per cent over the last year across all segments".
Shiv Khera's 'You Can Achieve More', Khaled Hosseini's 'Sea Prayer', and Mohammad Hanif's 'Red Birds' were the biggest grossers in the trade segment.
"Michael Ondaatje winning the Golden Man Booker for 'The English Patient', after George Saunder's 'Lincoln in the Bardo' won the Man Booker last year, was the cherry on the cake," says Yogesh Sharma, senior vice president at Bloomsbury India.
"Our local publishing list grew significantly too with over 100 titles being published. In the children's segment, Harry Potter sales stayed strong and continued to grow with additions of new illustrated and house editions. We also made huge progress in taking our beautifully produced picture and activity books for kids to the market.
"On the academic and professional side, Arden Shakespeare and Methuen Drama books for literature students, Fairchild for fashion industry and academia were the bright spots. Our new publishing programme for law and taxation, accounting books churned out over 75 titles," he says.
According to him, the highlight of the year, however, was the "launch of our local academic publishing programme for not just India but also the other global markets with the release of 'India After Modi' by Ajay Gudavarthy".
Palimpsest Publishing House also came out with a number of books, including two on sports.
There was a big focus on sports in 2018. India performed a lot better throughout the year than ever before.
In keeping with that upbeat sporting mood Palimpsest published veteran sports writer Mihir Bose's 'Game Changer', a riveting account of English football and India's missed opportunities.
"Then came Vivek Chowdhary's 'Kabaddi by Nature', which documents the amazing revival of kabaddi from the village fields to the air-conditioned indoor stadiums with the celebrities in the audience," says Palimpsest CEO Bhaskar Roy.
Trisha Niyogi Books says 2018 was a watershed year for the publishing house as it launched three new imprints Olive Turtle (Original English fiction), Thornbird (Translations to English) and Papermissile (Non-fiction).
"While we pigeonholed our new range of books into these imprints, we continued to print our large format books under the banner of Niyogi Books," she says.
Roli Books completed its 40th anniversary this year.
Looking back at the 40-year journey, founder-publisher Pramod Kapoor says he wanted to be a publisher from the time he was in school and started Roli Books when he was barely 25 with a hired desk and a part-time assistant.
During the year, Niyogi Books opened a bookstore, a unique feat for any publisher in India, in Kolkata in August.
Bikash De Niyogi, the publisher of Niyogi Books, says, "To us book lovers, College Street is the 'Mecca of books'. Thus, despite Delhi being the centre of our publishing activities, we thought College Street would be the most auspicious beginning to our retailing activities."