In 2005, Penguin India tied up with Zubaan to launch an imprint that capitalised on the strengths and USPs of both publishing houses. Though limited to a few books a year ( The Collector's Wife by Mitra Phukan; These Hills Called Home by Temsula Ao; A Life Less Ordinary by Baby Halder; Lunatic in my Head by Anjum Hasan among others), it was an innovative and imaginative move benefitting both the bigger as well as the independent, niche publishing house. The tie up gave Zubaan authors more exposure and Penguin got Zubaan’s niche expertise while developing their women’s list. It brought together Zubaan’s editorial expertise and Penguin’s marketing and distribution. Cost and profits were shared, and Penguin’s brand value gave the books a better reach.
While some did see it as a classic case of the big boss of publishing swallowing up the small fry in the business, something similar having happened between IndiaInk and Roli Books, it was actually a win-win situation. Once the collaborative strength of this move became apparent, many publishing houses followed suit. The latest in this long and growing list is the imprint launched by Yatra Books and Westland Ltd. Westland had earlier tied up with Bookstalk, a Bangalore based start-up, to launch audio books of many of its titles.
The new Westland-Yatra imprint is an attempt by both houses to break into the local language market in a big way. This new partnership will leverage Yatra’s experience in language publishing and Westland’s marketing and distribution strengths. As of now, while India remains the third largest publisher of English language books, catering only to the 12 per cent of the country’s population. With this imprint, Westland intends to enter a market that will address the vast majority of the population.
Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO Westland, say that Westland took its first tentative steps in Hindi publishing by translating a couple of bestsellers. “Just when we were trying to figure out how to ramp up our programme, the opportunity to work with Yatra came”.
The tie up now gives Westland an opportunity to work with a team known for its considerable translation and editorial skills and also tap in to their unique experience and insight in the Hindi market.
“This association with Yatra will help to build Westland’s reputation as an independent publisher. We have achieved considerable success in the English language market, and we are keen to set similar benchmarks in other languages. We have always admired Yatra for its innovative and exciting Hindi publishing and we are delighted to be working with Neeta Gupta and Namita Gokhale,” adds Padmanabhan.
The five titles that will be translated and published under this new imprint are commercial successes by home grown authors chosen collectively by both Yatra and Westland: Rahul Pandita’s Hello Bastar , Amish’s The Secret of the Nagas , Ashwin Sanghi’s Chanakya’s Chant , Rujuta Diwekar’s Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha and Judy Balan’s Two Fates: The story of My Divorce .
Yatra Books, co-owned and headed by Neeta Gupta and Namita Gokhale, is an independent publishing house established in 2005 with an aim to create new synergies in multilingual translations and participate in cross cultural literary exchanges. “The idea was to realise the true potential of the Hindi market because Hindi is the fourth major language in the world — after Mandarin, English and Spanish. But the publishing industry does not reflect this,” says Namita Gokhale. Both publishing houses hope that this co-publishing arrangement will be a fruitful one, “part of a trend that sees Hindi titles entering the top 50 of the Nielsen bookscan bestseller list.”
Bottomline:An innovative and imaginative move benefitting both the bigger and the independent, niche publisher.