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Inaugurating the Seminar, H.E. Mr Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohammad, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan & Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, remarked that ever since its inception in 1990, ?The Council has lived up to its commitment to achieve intellectual self-reliance and mutual assistance between the continents of Asia and Africa in authorship and publishing. Indeed, the various activities undertaken by the Council throughout the period of a decade and a half, including the exhibitions and workshops, training, conferences etc., have contributed to showcase the importance of the Council`s objectives. In the current international scenarios at both economic, political, social and intellectual spheres, the working of the Council assumes greater importance as only through bridging of the knowledge-divide, the countries of Asia and Africa could realize the potential in the pursuit of a sustainable socio-economic development for the peoples.?

His Excellency further remarked that if the relationship between authors and publishers are not streamlined, the readers should suffer. He reminded the audience that this year celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the historic Bandung Summit, which laid the foundation of Afro-Asian solidarity. It is also the time when both the continents are emerging as powerful actors on the political and economic scenes. While the two continents have immense potential, they have also the biggest population of the world`s poor and illiterate. The importance of the book in this connection, albeit the powerful emergence of the electronic media, cannot be over-emphasized. Indeed, buoyed by the impressive economic growth and viable political systems, the newly developing countries in the Asian continents have already caught the attention of publishers worldwide. Similarly, with the far-reaching implications of the establishment of the African Union, with NEPAD as its economic arm, many have begun to turn their energies and resources to the high growth markets of the African continent. This has led to considerable expansion of the book market in Asia and Africa with the publishers catering to the different specific needs of the various segments of the domestic market. In this context, a healthy author-publisher relationship is central to the objectives of disseminating knowledge and repeating the fruits of innovation. A refined balance between innovations, business acumen, deep understanding of all stages of book chain is certainly required. A transparent and clear contact between authors and publishers will provide answers and lay the foundation for a clearly defined mechanism as well for conflict resolution. In this context, the question of copyright emerges as one of the common source of conflict. Protection undoubtedly promotes creativity at home and abroad.

The role of electronic media should not be looked at diminishing the importance and state of book production. His Excellency felt that the new technology should be seen as tools for strengthening book production and distribution mechanism. The book should continue to dominate the cultural tradition in Asia and Africa. It is the most important aspect in the cultural and literary traditions of Asia and Africa. A healthy relationship between authors and publishers is central to creating such an opportunity. Initiatives, he said, in this direction may include production of quality books in two regions and the promotion of the sale of their rights, such as the compilation of comprehensive national bibliographies, more book reviews in newspapers, establishment of awards for outstanding book publishers, collection and dissemination of comparable book statistics and display of Asian and African books for which rights are available in major international book fairs.

His Excellency recommended that the countries of Asia and Africa, in all their cultural cooperation agreements, should give due emphasis on issues related to book industry and dissemination of knowledge through the printed media, thus serving the objectives and goals of the Afro-Asian Book Council, which has aptly assigned to itself this task in the interest of millions of readers in the two continents.

Speaking on Afro-Asian cooperation in authorship and publishing, the Guest of Honour at this Seminar, His Excellency Mr Jonathan Wutawunashe, Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe in India, said, ?Sharing of experiences through literature is a natural impulse, given our shared historical and cultural experiences. In the recent past, as a result of the dominance of the Western world, literature, history and culture have all tended to be Eurocentric to the detriment of values and the subversion of the moral fabrics of the society.? As a result, His Excellency added, ?Many a story has gone untold and many writers have been frustrated to the point of giving up on their professions and talents due to Western publishers` lack of appreciation of the relevance of the core Afro-Asian values reflected in this attempts at published authorship. This underscores the importance of this Seminar, as it is the height of folly to expect editorial mindsets that are formed in different crucibles to comprehend, champion and propagate what to them are alien perspectives.?

His Excellency Mr Jonathan Wutawunashe felt that the task before us assumes an added new dimension because of ?urgency given the impending threats of cultural hegemony that might result from globalization?. In view of this, he said that it is ?important that the African story and the Asian experience are clearly reflected through indigenous, first-hand accounts? for the benefit of our community. This, he said, should enable us to formulate progressive policies and strategies for the future. Among the issues close to our hearts, he listed issues of sovereign freedom, land, health, environment, knowledge, peace and security. He hoped that authors and publishers would give due regard to these and pertinent issues.

He reminded the audience that all major religions agree that words have creative power and in this way the printed books can help in creating the future we want for Africa and Asia. In the end, he hoped that what the celebrated authors write, what the editors make them meticulous and what our publishers bring them out in the form of books should be translated into better reality that we dream of.

Earlier, welcoming the Chief Guest, Ambassador of Sudan, the Guest of Honour, the Ambassador of Zimbabwe in India, Dr GVG Krishnamurty, former Election Commissioner of India, dignitaries and the audience, the Secretary-General of Afro-Asian Book Council, Mr Sukumar Das described in detail the activities of the Council ever since its inception. The Council, in fact, was the initial idea of Mr Abul Hasan who had been its Director from its inception to November 2004. He resigned because of his indisposition but still remains to be the Council`s Advisor. To express its gratitude the Council, therefore, took this opportunity to honour Mr Abul Hasan with Award for strengthening Afro-Asian relationship in authorship and publishing. Mr Abul Hasan participated in almost all the international book fairs and organized a number of workshops. The Award was presented to Mr Abul Hasan by the Ambassador of Sudan in India, His Excellency Mr A Abdalhaleem Mohammad.

In his Vote of Thanks, Mr Saumya Gupta, Director of Afro-Asian Book Council, while thanking all concerned for making the Seminar successful, sought their cooperation and suggestions to bring in vigour and vitality in the functioning of the Council. The writers and publishers, for whose benefit the Council has been formed, could become members. He appealed to all authors and publishers, who are not the members of the Council at present, to come forward and help in strengthening Afro-Asian relationship in authorship and publishing.


In his Keynote Address, presented by Shri Dina Nath Malhotra, Emeritus President of the Federation of Indian Publishers and pioneer in the paperback revolution in India, attributed ?social purpose? in the preparation and publication of books by authors and publishers. Authors have a sensitivity, which urges them to write. Apart from making livelihood, the publisher, to be true to his profession, has to ensure that the books he publishers are of best quality in terms of editorial input, production values and final presentation. Thus, both of them, though have different motivations, have an identical aim of providing creative work to the potential reader.

Shri Malhotra elaborated the concept of creativity in publishing by emphasizing that creation of books is not just the job of authors alone. They do write books but the final shape of the books or the creation of a book comes through the efforts of a publisher only. He clarified that the publisher is not a production manager or a printer or a bookseller. The publisher knows the pulse of the society, the needs of the educational system, and, at times, pinpoints the appropriate author who can do justice to that subject and prepare particular books. In this way, creation of books should be feasible if authors and publishers maintain a very cordial relationship. Such a relationship is important both for their profession and society. The best results, Shri Malhotra said, should be possible if they understand each other.

Signing of an agreement for the payment of royalty only formalizes the Author-Publisher relationship. They have to understand and respect each other?s sentiments. While the author is creative and sensitive, the publisher?s creative role in providing inputs essential for invoking the interest of the readers cannot be glossed over. As such, their relationship should be essentially of ?love and friendship?.

By signing royalty agreement, the author entrusts his ?economic affairs? to his publisher. Instead of adopting ?bargaining position?, the publisher, Shri Malhotra said, should meet the pecuniary needs of his authors. At the same time, as Shri Malhotra pointed out, an author should also give due respect to his publisher. The author has to have faith on the publisher for the efforts the latter puts in for the promotion of the book concerned and should have faith on the publisher on the sale figure of the book. If, in the opinion of the authors, sale is less, the author should suggest ways and means to promote the book. In fact, both of them, should work together from the inception of the manuscript to the final deliverance and reaching of books in the hands of potential readers. At the same time, the publishers should have an open mind while dealing with the fraternity of writers.


To overcome the impasse, at times created among authors and publishers, Shri Malhotra formed Good Offices Committee of Authors and Publishers (GOCAP) to resolve their differences. It was found that most of the differences can always be resolved if there is goodwill on both the sides. Third person can help in resolving their disputes. In this context, Shri Malhotra cited the institution of ?Literary Agent? in the West to smoothen relationship between authors and publishers. The Literary Agent deals with the angularities of both authors and publishers and strikes a fair deal between the two.


Mrs. Ritu Menon, co-founder of Kali for Women and Women Unlimited, and author of some books, felt that at a time when publishing is virtually controlled in Asia and Africa by some multinational publishing houses, to attain our autonomy and strengthen our relationship, cooperation between publishers and publishers is desirable. Citing the instance of ten publishers, who have collaborated in Delhi for their mutual benefit, she emphasized on the need of an alliance of independent publishers across the world to reduce the domination of multinational publishers.

Such publishers joining the alliance can have arrangement for co-publication and dissemination of information to their mutual benefit. The publishers in the alliance should be able to find co-publisher within the alliance. This should also be feasible with publishers publishing books in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, and even in Arabic languages. In this way, all such publishers should be in a position to expand market of their books.


Prof. Indira Goswami, an Assamese writer and recipient of several awards including those from Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademy, believes that books are the most wonderful creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Nations perish, civilizations grow old and die but the world of books, which witnesses all such reverberations, still remains vibrant. All this underlines the significance of translation.

Our literature is as vast as a huge Banyan tree. It is available in diverse languages. We can, therefore, delve deep into it through translation. In the absence of translation of such creative work, much of this remains obscure and, as a result of this, some part of our culture and information also remains dormant.

Prof. Goswami traced the initiatives in translation to the period 3000 BC. Romans, she said, claim to be the inventor of translation. In AD 1540, French scholar Dolet laid down the principles of translation. Since then, many creative works have been translated. They include Valmiki`s Ramayana into Assamese, Ramcharit Manas from Avadhi to English language by Adalat Khan, a Muslim scholar, in the year AD 1871. Ramcharit Manas has also been translated in several other Indian and foreign languages including Russian and Chinese. Quoting Dr S. Radha-krishanan, the philosopher President of India, she said that a translation to serve its purpose must be readable without being shallow, and modern without being unsympathetic. She wants all our classics to be made available in other languages through translation.


Prof. Pramila Sharma, Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow at the Teen Murti House in New Delhi stated that multinational publishing houses like Macmillan, Penguins, and Orient Longmans have geared up to enter the Indian language publishing sphere with a view to show solidarity with Indian languages but the potential of the regional market is the key. In this way, Indian publishing industry has a bright future and it is set to reach out to millions of Indians.

She wants that strategy of distribution network in a developing country should be drawn in accordance with the ground realities. Where majority of the masses live in rural areas/small towns, flashy air-conditioned bookstores are just not feasible. For this purpose, she wants the books to be exposed in melas and other places where people generally congregate. To illustrate her point, she cited the example of a book of a Hindi writer Chatursen Shastri which was sold in the range of 25,000 copies at the annual convention of Indian National Congress at Mumbai. Our books, she felt, can be displayed usefully at places like Surajkund and spiritual congregations like Ajmer Sharif and Kumbha melas where people generally frequent. She wants exhibition of books to be arranged in association with students` union and their activities. Book exhibition, she stated, should be a part of students` festival. Similarly, exhibitions and book fairs should be an integral part of hotel industry, as it is in UK.

As a writer herself, Prof Sharma showed her anguish at publishers who say that books have no sufficient market, publishers asking writers to contribute at least 50 per cent of the cost involved, in their diminution in print runs resulting in high cost of books, non-payment of royalty to authors, for non-submission of proper royalty account to authors, lack of interest on the part of publishers in retail sale and their focus on government sale only, and demand of publishers demanding help from government in procurement of books.

Lack of a network of libraries, weak distribution system, particularly in non-metro areas and piracy are the stumbling blocks and major threats in reaching millions of potential readers, Prof Sharma felt. She hoped that the entry of MNC publishing houses into regional language publishing should enhance healthy competition and curb piracy. Together, they should pave the way for publishing books for millions.


Speaking on Coordinated Approach required in author-publisher relationship, Dr. Terry O`Brien, Principal of Bhagat Singh College of the University of Delhi, felt that author-publisher relationship is like an Indian marriage ? an arranged marriage. While most authors are loyal to their publishers and vice versa, the publishers too have been found concealing the actual print-runs from their authors. In this way, there are publishers with good reputation while others allow their own image to be tarnished by manoeuvering their records. Dr O`Brien also showed his concern on the growing menace of piracy, which includes photocopying as well. Both the authors and the publishers face the brunt. Piracy has the incidence of keeping prices down.

Most of the author-publisher relationship, Dr O`Brien pointed out, is not good but the coordination is on the rise. Publishing, he said, has become like football where a player is kept on the rolls so that he does not slip into another team. Therefore, the publisher bears the brunt of the book that is likely to fail. The best counsellor in this relationship should be the editor who make the marriage work by meeting standards of the market and having the author cater to it. The problem with authors is that every author thinks that his/her work is a best seller. Patience is the key to successful marriage and so should be in the author-publisher relationship. If the writer has a pecuniary interest apart from his desire for visibility, these are also the desires of the publisher. Their goals are, therefore, identical and they should coordinate.


Quoting the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, the former Election Commissioner of India, Dr GVG Krishnamurty, said that we can kill a human being but not an idea. Generations of people have survived and benefited because of the publication of ideas in books. For a civilized society to flourish it is essential for every nation and society to have thinkers and writers for the benefit of others. The writers have essentially a vision which is embodied in their writings.

It is for this reason that writers in India have commanded respect throughout centuries. We are fortunate to have treasure of knowledge in the form of books. Books, Dr Krishnamurty emphasized, constitute an ornament for human beings. They excite us, alleviate our feelings and enlighten us.

As a great lover of books Dr Krishnamurty has more than one thousand books in his personal library. These books, he feels, contain gems of thoughts and have always helped him. He said that these are books which helped him even in elevating him to the highest office of the Election Commissioner of India. Citing an example of a rare book on Napoleon, published in 1854, he felt reluctant to part with it even when he was offered a fabulous amount in France.

The love for books in India, he said, dates back from Vedas and authors and publishers are regarded as two wheels of a chariot. India is the cradle of human race and our valuable knowledge and information is contained in books which our people have treasured. Authors have ideas and vision. These are the publishers who disseminate them in the form of books. Therefore, Dr Krishnamurty emphasized, both the authors and publishers should work together.

Earlier, he released two books on Indian Spiritual Gurus by M.L.Ahuja. One deals with Spiritual Gurus born in the nineteenth century and another one deals with gurus born in twentieth century. He lauded the efforts of the author in presenting the philosophy and contributions of modern gurus who existed throughout the country during these two centuries and hoped that people throughout the world will be benefited by them.


To elaborate what Shri Dina Nath Malhotra in his Keynote Address indicated, the publisher is supposed to form an inextricable link between the author and the reader. His role as a creative publisher cannot be glossed over. He has to meet the aspirations of the reader or buyer by ensuring that the information in the book is complete, there is nothing that pricks his sentiments in any way, there are no factual errors in it, and the text is presented in a delectable way, which should keep the reader fully engrossed in the book. The publisher has also to ensure that there is nothing in the text, which is irrelevant and unnecessarily has the incidence to increase the cost of the book. To this essential editorial input Shri Malhotra termed as creative activity of publishers. Thus, he maintained that creative publishing is essentially the contribution of both the authors and publishers.

To do justice to his authors, the publisher has to ensure that the books published by him reach every nook and corner of the world. Gone are the days when publishers limited dissemination of information of their titles to a specific segment of the people or area. Their main constraint had been the elaborate and costly mailing system. But in an age of Internet this should not be so. Instant information has now become possible through Internet.

For the last few years, there has been a wide scramble for websites. In this situation, for the potential buyer it is a dilemma which website he/she should visit to know the titles of his/her choice. On the other hand, websites are now being used by every organization to intimate prices of their products and provide information about their organizations.

Again, for a buyer, it is difficult to get books of his/her choice from any bookshop. Creative and book mindedness can be cultivated only by providing healthy literature to the people at large. But what to talk of books even their information is not available easily.

The only solution seems to be the large-scale circulation of national bibliographies, as suggested by the Ambassador of Sudan in his address. These national bibliographies are generally prepared by our National Libraries on the basis of books collected by them through the implementation of Delivery of Books Act. In practice, many publishers do not comply with the requirements of the Act, though it is mandatory for them to deposit one copy each of their new publications with the designated libraries. As a result, the national bibliographies do not reflect the true picture of publishing and do not provide the desired information. Moreover, their circulation is limited to specific libraries thus depriving a large number of individuals to have an accesss to this. This should be feasible if national bibliographies can be made available on national websites and continue to provide the latest prices and editions, thereby making the publishers realize that information of their publications is meant for a large number of institutions and individuals scattered at far off places.

The titles in the national bibliographies should be connected with the publishers` individual websites through ISBN. The individual websites of the publishers should provide detailed information about the titles and authors.

The buyers should be able to contact the publishers through e-mail, if they fail to get any specific book from the nearby bookshop. The national websites can be promoted through diplomatic missions, national and international book fairs. Access to this in university and institutional libraries, and even at bookshops, should have the incidence of providing a wide spectrum of information to our potential readers, intensifying competition among authors and publishers for excellence in their creative works. In this way, it should bring professionalism in publishing and usher in mechanism for development of authorship and publishing in Afro-Asian countries. All this can be accomplished with the cooperation of publishers and support of the Government in each country.






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