Friday, February 23, 2007

My Son Is Everyone's Father!?

So what's new in Indian publishing? The rumour mill has it that Ritu Beri's (the designer's) autobiography is going to retail at Rs 1 lakh a copy. It is named "firefly" or some such thing.

I think this is what is wrong with Indian publishing. Instead of publishing in the traditional sense, a few people get together, ask friends to buy the book at Rs 1 lakh each, and then publish the book and make a neat profit. Seems to me as if it's exquisite furniture and art canvases they are selling. This is crass commercialisation of publishing, which one likes to believe is supposed to bring out books of excellent quality for the masses. Or, rather, it used to be that way.

An hour ago I went to a book shop to see what actually sold over the counter. You won't believe this, really. Some of the books displayed there were titled thusly:

1. Mera Beta Sab Ka Baap (My Son is Everyone's Father, some oedipus complex this?)
2. Tantra Shastra aur Sadhana
3. Asli Khiladi
4. Tandav
5. Simultaneous Orgasm ;)
6. Mind Power for Students

Hm, so, er, that's what sells? I don't believe it. I thought we were a learned and erudite people with a literary tradition going back to Kalidasa of the fifth century. I like to believe so. But who can tell? I am no observer of reading habits, at least such reading habits.

6 comments:

Geets said...

John
I chanced upon your blog while wandering through blogosphere. Nice to know that you are working on a novel. Your short stories are great. You will be glad to know that I too have published my first novel "By the River Pampa I stood" in New Delhi on Dec 9. Please visit my blog (December) for the details when you get time. Also I would like you to review the book. Good luck on your novel.
Geeta

John said...

Hi Geeta,

Thanks. Congrats on having been published. Pampa runs near my hometown of Kidangannoor.

J

Geets said...

Thanks,John, and thanks for visiting my blog and reading the reviews. The book was launched at Oxford Bookstore New Delhi and I heard that it is available in Landmark, Chennai also. I guess it should be available at Oxford Bookstore, Bombay also. Since I am in Dubai,I am not able to follow up properly. The tragic part is that it is still not available in Kerala where many of my relatives are waiting to buy it. It is also available on www.oxfordbookstore.com
Is Kidangannoor near Tiruvalla?
Btw, your articles are simply great!
Geeta

John said...

Hi Geeta,

Kidangannoor is not far from Thiruvalla, in fact, my mother was from thiruvalla, from the famous Cochi family.

Dubai must be a great place. I was in the Gulf, in Jeddah to be exact.

:)

J

Geets said...

Nice knowing that , John. And also to learn that you come from a family of writers like Mahakavi M.T
When can we expect your novel in print?

Geeta

John said...

HI Geeta,

So you know my great uncle Puthencavu Mathan Tharakan. Another illustrious writer in my family is George Mathan who wrote the first book of Malayalam grammar.

Can you write to me on my email zenwriter@gmail.com.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't comment on my blog. You can continue to do that also.

I will definitely look up your book when I am in Oxford.

best wishes,

John