Hello and welcome to This Fortnight in Publishing!
It's been more than a year since I put out the first edition of this newsletter, and to be honest, I'm a little surprised that it's still around. A few months ago, in a fit of frustration, I unsubscribed anyone who hasn't opened even one of these emails, so this means that each of you has read at least one edition at some point in the past. Thank you for sticking with me, for dropping me little notes of encouragement. for pointing out mistakes, for encouraging me to think about all the other conceivable forms this newsletter could take.
When I started this newsletter, I had no intentions of it being anything other than a round-up of news and interesting essays relevant to publishing in India. It was an idea that Vinutha Mallya and I had discussed a few years ago, back when she was running Booksy, but which we never pursued. A year ago, when I published the first edition, I gave myself a fancy title such as "publishing news curator", which I have since quietly dropped. Curation, I think, applies only when the whole is larger than the parts, when disparate things are brought together (arts, performances, information), and a new perspective or experience emerges that is distinct from its constituents. That is not what this newsletter aspires to be. Every fortnight, I collect links in a somewhat magpie fashion from various feeds and from across the internet and assemble them here. These things interest me, and by extension, I hope they interest you. It was something I started doing out of curiosity, a way for me to document the goings-on in this field, to share them with others. However, now that a year has passed, perhaps it's time for me to think about what more this newsletter should be. Perhaps it should be a work of curation - fewer but more carefully selected articles, with more in-depth engagement with them? Perhaps each newsletter should have a theme? Fewer pictures and a more condensed style? Write to me with your ideas.
That said, onward! Today (May 8), the trial court will hear the plagiarism case against Chetan Bhagat filed by Anvita Bajpai. The issue began on February 22 when Bajpai served Bhagat a legal notice claiming that his book, One Indian Girl, was plagiarised from her story, "Drawing Parallels". She alleged that she gave Bhagat her anthology of short stories, Life, Odds & Ends, in 2014 and he copied the "emotional flow" of the story in his book, published in 2016. When he denied the allegations in March, Bajpai went to court. On April 25, a Bengaluru City Civil Court issued an ex parte order (without hearing Bhagat's lawyers) halting the sales of One Indian Girl. Bhagat's counsel appealed the decision in the Karnataka High Court, and hence, the trial court will hear the case today instead of the scheduled date in June. The case does not seem to be in favour of Bajpai, as legal experts point out that though both stories share similar plots - independent-minded women have to choose between three men at a critical juncture in their lives - there does not seem to be adequate grounds to prove that it has been copied. Was it merely a coincidence that both stories have similar plots and a similar technique (plenty of internal dialogue and flashbacks)? Well, it is hard to say. On the one hand, it is possible that Bhagat read the Bajpai's story and decided (either consciously or subconsciously) to reinvent the plot on his own terms. On the other, it is equally possible that both stories are so generic that they share common themes and so seem similar. We'll know which way the court swings soon enough. Speaking of copyright, another plagiarism case that made headlines a few weeks ago has ended with something of a whimper. Suchitra Vijayan, an author and lawyer from Chennai, alleged in March this year that Pradeep Damodaran's book, Borderlands: Travels Along India's Boundaries, was copied from a book she had been working on from 2012. However, it is important to note that this allegation was made a few days before the book even hit stores, and Vijayan's accusation was made on the basis of the book's title, subtitle, and blurb, and not its contents. The two parties have since agreed to settle the matter outside of court, though Vijayan still stands by her claims. Also, in case copyright intrigue in your thing, may I just Ian McEwan's "My Purple-Scented Novel"? Also, do check out the article in The Atlantic about the Google book scanning case - it beautiful sums up what was lost in the battle to keep one company from monopolising all the world's knowledge.
And to wind things up, here's a fun piece of trivia. It is believed that both Cervantes and Shakespeare died on 23 April, 1616, which is why 23 April is celebrated as World Book Day or Copyright Day. However, this isn't true. Spain was using the Gregorian calendar and England was using the Julian calendar at that time, so they probably died ten days apart. William Wordsworth too died on 23 April, a good 234 years later.
Have a good week everyone! Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The website that allots a unique number, known as ISBN, to every new book being published is full of bugs, and the process remains creaky.
The initial public offering (IPO) of educational books publisher S Chand and Co. Ltd, backed by private equity firm Everstone Capital, crossed the half-way mark on the first day of the issue on Wednesday. The offering of 7.68 million shares, excluding anchor allotment, received bids for nearly 3.98 million equity shares, or 52% of the total, data available with the stock exchange showed.
A Bengaluru-based author had sued the writer, claiming that the ‘characters, places and emotional flow’ of his book had been lifted from one of her stories.
The case was settled out of court, but the question marks over plagiarism in general remain.
The English translation of writer Perumal Murugan’s novel Mathorubhagan (One Part Woman) has won the Sahitya Akademi’s award for translation in English.
The Publishing Next Industry Awards were instituted in 2014 to reward the talent, initiative, entrepreneurial zeal and untiring efforts of publishers – big, small, independent – that create books. Last date for submission: 30 June.
Since March 2014, when the new criteria for DOAJ listing were put out, there have been about 1,600 applications from Open Access journal publishers in India. Of these, only 4% (74) were found to be from genuine publishers and accepted for inclusion in the DOAJ directory. While 18% applications are still being processed, 78% were rejected for various reasons.
The fifth edition of Divate’s Mumbai Poetry Festival at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, on April 22 and 23, will also mark 25 years of the literary journal, Abhida. The literary movement, launched in 1992, has promoted the works of several landmark poets, including Dilip Chitre and Arun Kolatkar.
With around 10,000 books to be made available for reading in a village with a population of 10,000, Bhilar will probably have the highest per capita availability of books for any village in the country.
The University Grants Commission or UGC, India’s higher education regulator, last year issued new regulations restricting the number of research students each university faculty member can supervise at a time as part of a drive to improve standards and create world-class universities. Previously it was left to universities and departments to decide on the number of research students to admit.
The Man Booker International Prize has revealed the shortlist of six books in contention for the 2017 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world.
An excellent summary of the Google book scanning copyright case. If the deal had gone through, it would have created a modern day Library of Alexandria - a database of every book ever written. But it didn't.
When, in 1968, Robert Pirsig, who has died aged 88, sent a synopsis and sample of his novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to 122 publishers, only one showed any interest, and James Landis, the editor who responded from William Morrow, warned him not to expect either a large advance or big sales.
The crowd-funded news platform aims to combat fake news by combining professional journalism with volunteer fact checking: "news by the people and for the people."
Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle on Wednesday unveiled a first glimpse of his presidential library planned for Chicago, with concept plans showing a striking museum surrounded by lush greenery.
An interesting exploration of Western literature’s gradual progression from narratives that relate actions and events to stories that portray minds in all their meandering, many-layered, self-contradictory complexities.
The greatest writers of the nineteenth century were drawn to the North Pole. What did they hope to find there?
A detailed piece on Urdu digests - instantly recognisable by their arresting cover art and arresting plots. It is hard to reduce these digests to any particular genre; they vary from collections of essays on current affairs to embellished historical retellings, from realist fiction to escapist fantasy.
If a book has been printed, and is in circulation in even the remotest part of the world, chances are, Tarun Kumar Shaw will be able to get it for you. Be it a banned title, a rare tome, the latest edition of a prestigious science journal, Tarun-da, as he is popularly known in Kolkata, knows how to sniff out that book you want from under a pile of rubbish or email trail half way around the planet.
An interview with Dennis Johnson, co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House Books and one of the first book bloggers, is possibly best known for the fight he picked in the spring of 2014. He was at the front of a group of independent publishers who decided to spar with Amazon over the predatory, escalating fees it was charging small publishers.
The editors of scholarly communications are under considerable pressure as recent trends in Gold Open Access characterize them as a luxury of the past.
Two modern masters talk biotech, climate change, activism & how sci-fi genre sensibilities have changed.
The British Library will host the London leg of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival for the first time as part of a new partnership.
HuffingtonPost is being rebranded as HuffPost. It’s also redesigning its site to fully embrace "punny splashes" across social platforms and to better accommodate the habits and desires of its readership.
The Open Access Book Publishing report explains the origins of the open access movement, gives a timeline for its development, but most importantly, the research quantifies open access book publishing as a market segment.
A publisher's Medium post lamenting declining Facebook reach sparked agreement and concern from a wide range of publishers.
This Fortnight in Publishing was started in April 2016 to aggregate diverse sources of information on the publishing industry in India. Click here to view our archives.
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