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India is the world’s sixth-largest book market: 5 Books to look forward to in May 2017

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New Delhi, Apr 29 (IANS): On an average, at least 40-50 books from leading publishers hit the stands every month. Add to this the vast number of self-published books and you will get an absolutely staggering total. How many books are you going to read in a month?

India is the world’s sixth-largest book market, and currently the second-largest for books in English, behind the United States. India’s print book market is estimated to be worth Rs 26,060 crore ($4 billion).

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While these stunning figures offer a sense of optimism to bibliophiles, it also paves the way for relentless hype as many a reader falls prey to the marketing honchos behind these book covers, only to be left with a regret later.

Many of these books are never reprinted or reviewed and fade away as quickly as they gain prominence. One thing that will never fade though is literary excellence or for that matter, creative excellence. Unfortunately, this happens but rarely in any given year, but if there is a great book, it is guaranteed that it will be widely read and will establish itself in due course of time.

Here are the five books across genres that we can’t wait to read in May:

“Why Gandhi Still Matters” by Rajmohan Gandhi (Aleph)

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In “Why Gandhi Still Matters”, the Mahatma’s grandson and award-winning writer and scholar Rajmohan Gandhi, appraises Gandhi and his legacy by examining some of his most famous (and often most controversial) ideas, beliefs, actions, successes and failures. He analyses Gandhi’s commitment to democracy, secularism, pluralism, equality and non-violence, his gift to the world of satyagraha, the key strategies in his fight for India’s freedom, his opposition to caste discrimination, and his equations with Churchill, Jinnah and Ambedkar, as also his failings as a human being and family man.

Taken together, the author’s insights present an unsentimental view of aspects of Gandhi’s legacy that have endured and those that have been cast aside by power-hungry politicians, hate groups, casteist organisations, venal industrialists, terrorists, and other enemies of India’s promise.

“Looking for the Rainbow: My years with Daddy” by Ruskin Bond (Puffin India)

Among the most anticipated books in May, it is a tribute from India’s most loved author to his father. In Ruskin Bond’s first ever memoir for children, we find him extensively reminiscing about the time he spent with his father. Gorgeously illustrated, the charming and poignant prose makes “Looking for the Rainbow” a collector’s item for anybody touched by Ruskin Bond’s illuminating writing. In the book, Bond travels to his past, recalling his favourite adventures (and misadventures) with extraordinary charm, sprinklings of wit, a pinch of poignance and not a trace of bitterness.

It is scheduled to release countrywide on the author’s birthday, May 19. It will be formally launched by the author himself at Mussorie’s Cambridge Book Depot.

“The Retreat of Western Liberalism” by Edward Luce (Hachette)

In “The Retreat of Western Liberalism,” Luce makes a larger statement about the weakening of western hegemony and the crisis of democratic liberalism — of which Donald Trump and his European counterparts are not the cause, but a symptom. Luce argues that we are on a menacing trajectory brought about by ignorance of what it took to build the West, arrogance towards society’s losers, and complacency about our system’s durability — attitudes that have been emerging since the fall of the Berlin Wall, treated by the West as an absolute triumph over the East.

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Combining on-the-ground reporting with intelligent synthesis of the vast literature already available, Luce offers a detailed projection of the consequences of the Trump administration and a forward-thinking analysis of what those who believe in enlightenment values must do to defend them from the multiple onslaughts they face in the coming years.

“Behold, I Shine” by Freny Manecksha (Rupa)

Set in the once-fabled land of Kashmir, “Behold, I Shine” moves beyond male voices and focuses, instead, on what the struggle means for the Valley’s women and children — those whose husbands remain untraceable; whose mothers are half-widows; those who have confronted the wrath of “Ikhwanis”, or the scrutiny of men in uniform, and what it means to stand up to it all.

Stitching together their narratives, “Behold, I Shine” not only memorialises women’s voices — thus far forgotten, unwritten, suppressed or sidelined — but also celebrates the mighty spirit of the Valley.

“Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins (Penguin)

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely 15-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran away from — a place to which she vowed she’d never return. (IANS)

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India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World

Bright future of books

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India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World
India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World. Representational image, Pixabay

After an unprecedented boom in India’s publishing industry during the past two decades, many insiders are fearful that it has now reached its saturation point. But the boom is not over, according to David Davidar, who maintains that India is “one of the most exciting book markets in the world” and its future is one of hopes.

Davidar, who was hired by the legendary Peter Mayer as one of the founder members of Penguin India way back in 1985 and ventured out to lay the foundations of Aleph Book Company some seven years ago, asserted that “there is no place to go but up” for India’s books market. Why?

“Because there is quite a lot of rubbish that is published, and as many subject areas remain unexplored, there is plenty of room for good, relevant books,” Davidar told IANS in an interview.

Open book
Open book, Representational image, Pixabay

The acclaimed publisher explained that although India publishes nearly 20,000 new books in the English language every year, many of these books are “meretricious or just downright bad.”

Davidar contrasts this unfortunate state of affairs to the fact that books will always have “a central place” in the lives of the thinking and aware individuals. And even as the consumer now has access to “more published information and entertainment than at any time in human history”, much of it (especially that found in digital form on the Internet and social media) is “of little value”, he noted.

“There will, therefore, always be room for thoughtful, stylish, innovative, insightful books (in whatever format you choose to read or access them – I am platform agnostic) for those who want to go beyond the commonplace, banal and mediocre,” he pointed out.

But the Indian book market, like anywhere else in the world, has its own hurdles and Davidar identified a small readership base, not enough retail outlets, not enough marketing avenues, low prices, high discounts, high material costs, high returns, customers who do not pay on time, customers who default on payments and so on and so forth as the major challenges faced by publishers in contemporary scenario. But there is hope as this market is always expanding.

Books
Books, Representational image, Flickr

“In India, because the bar has been so low for so long (all of us in the business have to accept some of the blame for that), and there are new generations hungry for quality information and entertainment, the future is brighter than in most parts of the world, where reading habits and publishing revenues are declining. There is no place to go but up. Great books will not die, but will continue to thrive,” he said.

Davidar has been a publisher for over a quarter century and has published several of the country’s finest writers, including Shashi Tharoor, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond, R.K. Narayan, Amitav Ghosh and Jeet Thayil. He is currently the Managing Director and Publisher of Aleph Book Company, a literary publishing firm he co-founded in 2011.

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He has also authoredce three novels “The House of Blue Mangoes” (2002), which was published in 16 countries, and became a bestseller in six of them; “The Solitude of Emperors” (2007), which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; and “Ithaca” (2011). (IANS)