Tamil Language Book Publishing: K Satyanarayan Part II ep 33

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We continue our discussion with K Satyanarayan or Satya, on Tamil Language Books. Satya is the co-Founder of New Horizon Media, a publisher in the Tamil books market. Satya is an alumnus of IIT Madras and Cornell University in the US. He and his co-founder Badri started Cricinfo, which became the go-to site for cricket before they exited and went on to launch New Horizon Media. Satya has blogged on education and state of publishing industry in India, and he has spoken on the publishing industries in India at forums such as Publishing Next. Part I of the discussion can be found at www.mykitaab.in/satya

As a publisher, I would like to develop a relationship with the end customer, that is the reader. But is is not possible everytime.

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Discussion Points About Tamil Language Books

  • As a publisher, Satya would like to develop a relationship with the end reader. This is possible for large publishers who have developed a database of their customers over the years. New Horizon Media do have a mailing list of nearly 30,000.
  • When New Horizon Media (NHM)started their business, there were only 200 odd bookstores that were selling books in substantial quantities. NHM replicated a sales distribution model of fast moving consumer goods companies who developed stockists. Sales teams started placing book racks or stands in places that had a good footfall such as restaurants, garment stores, medical shops,etc.
  • This approach helped in increasing the reach and discoverability of books. The downside of the above approach is that it is difficult to obtain the sales data because these outlets do not have a billing or inventory software.
  • Satya believes that the era of print books is on the decline. Ebooks will be much more efficient, but the market has not yet taken off in Tamil language yet.
  • One of the challenges with ebooks in Tamil language is rendering on the Kindle app. Flipkart have moved out of ebooks, and google books is not really marketed well. Dailyhunt is another site which sells ebooks in Tamil.
  • Many regional language publishers have not published ebook versions of their print books, and there are concerns over piracy. Overall, as a percentage of sales, ebooks sales are a small faction of the print book sales.
  • New Horizon Media accepts manuscripts as well as commission work. They are one of the few publishers in Tamil who invest in the editorial quality of the content. They focus on new content rather than translations because the readers may not be able to relate to the content. Satya’s Co-Founder Badri has tried translating Sherlock Holmes into Tamil.
  • Book recommendation by Satya: Historical Novel Punnin Selvan by author Kalki. Government of Tamil Nadu buys the copyright of books in some cases and the book becomes available in Public domain.
  • Satya would prefer to blog on his own site and cross post on blogging sites including Medium and LinkedIn.
  • Satya believes that self publishing offers a viable alternative to authors.
  • If not publishing, he would like to work in the education space. He is alarmed by the ASER report published by Pratham (Annual Status of Education Report) which indicate that less than half the children in Class V can read at Class II level. Reading as a whole is going down among schoolchildren, who are book readers of tomorrow.
  • This is the reason why Satya believes that audiobooks and video would work very well.
  • Relative to the population of India, publishing has not taken off in a big way the way it has in some of the advanced markets. The advantage that they had is that the language of the scholarship is the same as language of the masses. This is not the case with India, where scholarship has largely been in English and the mass readership is in the regional languages. Not enough books are being written in in nonfiction space Indian languages by subject matter experts.Note: New Horizon Media sell not only their own titles, but also titles published by all other Tamil publishers too. You can visit the New Horizon Media shop for details.

Resources and References mentioned in the podcast

Ways to Contact Satya

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