There is a huge market in India for new writers in fiction like Chetan Bhagat who appeal to urban readers, says the head of a publishing firm born only three months ago.
“There is a huge market out there for these books, whether the literary elites like it or not,” says Divya Dubey, founder of Gyaana Books.
“The advantage is that thanks to these books, more erstwhile non-readers have begun to read. Skeptics of course don’t subscribe to that view, but it’s a fact,” Dubey told IANS in an interview.
She was asked about the flood of new writers like Chetan Bhagat who seems to have captured the imagination of the urban readers.
“My opinion is that it’s the current fad, and will run its course and die out after a while. But if it helps us create more readers, it’s a good thing.
“Some of them begin to experiment with morre serious books and develop taste for them. I know that for a fact; so I’m not dead against it. Moreover, people are free to choose what they wish to read,” she said.
Dubey, who launched Gyaana Books in January with three well-received titles, said the company was “born out of circumstances”.
“There came a time when I had to make a tough decision. I was willing to take the risk. And sometimes, business-wise, it’s better to take chances during a recession,” she said.
Referring to the challenges of independent publishing, she said: “It’s not been easy. Right from the beginning we’ve struggled at every stage, whether it’s been production, marketing, distribution, or media attention. It’s extremely tough to make inroads in this industry.
“There are perhaps more publishers now, but the market size hasn’t increased remarkably. Hence competition is fierce. Small independents are most vulnerable because the stakes are high, especially for them.”
Dubey outlined Gyaana’s future.
“Gyaana is focused on producing good fiction and non-fiction. We hate to be labelled as publishers aiming at college romance, simply because one of our titles (“Of Wooing, Woes and Wanderings” by Amitabha Chatterjee) happens
to be written by a former IIT student. We’re looking for books that entertain us, or make us think.”
Referring to non-fiction, Dubey said: “We would especially like topics that people usually sweep under the carpet or shy away from. We are looking for scripts that grab our attention straightaway. We want scripts that offer pleasure and entertainment … or ones that deal with complex issues such as identity or sexuality, isolation or alienation in any form-in a world which is rooted in a certain culture or firmly believes in a certain way of living.
“I think we should be able to do that since India too is going through a transition phase right now. Simply put, we are looking for books that tell a good story.”
Asked about the challenges of a publishing start-up, Dubey said: “We literally began from scratch, sending out messages through all available channels about what we aimed to do. Some aspiring authors were adventurous
enough to send us their manuscripts after looking at our website.
“Besides, a few established writers such as Amitabha Bagchi and Rizio Yohannan Raj also expressed their support. They were kind enough to direct some aspiring authors to us as well.”
Asked about the viability of the shorter genre of story telling, Dubey, who has authored a collection of short stories, said: “It’s always been a debatable topic. Since there are so many people writing short stories, I thought there must be very many people reading them too.
“After all, writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri and Vikram Chandra have been pretty successful with their short stories. Satyajit Ray’s short stories and O. Henry’s are still very popular. I guess it depends on the themes and
treatment. If it’s a good story, it should sell, regardless of the length.”
Dubey’s own stories delve into considerable intricacies of relationships.
“I used to do a lot of creative writing during school and college. After that, for 10 years or more, I didn’t write a word. I’d say the Muse returned one fine day when I was perhaps going through an exceptionally black period of my life. A lot of characters and traits are based on real-life people though the stories themselves are pure fiction.”
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