The other day we spotted that a prominent children's book publisher from India had started translating some of their content. It is always wonderful to see when more publishers in our community embrace the diversity of languages and take small steps to engage more readers of different languages. In this post, Christopher Kenneally writes about how translation is becoming a crucial strategy for Indian publishers to widen their reach within the country.
“Lately in India, there’s a huge concentration in publishing on Indian languages. Technology is deep-seated in the market, and we’ve seen the rise of reading apps which cater to Indian languages,” noted Prashasti Rastogi, director, German Book Office in New Delhi.
“Books and news both are disseminated to readers in their (native) languages,” she told me for a recent interview in Copyright Clearance Center’s Beyond the Book podcast series. “The challenges of Indic fonts are being discussed, and publishers are committed to publishing translations.”
Advances in technology, especially mobile communication, make it possible for publishers to reach consumers all the way to “the last mile” — conquering, at last, a distribution problem that has long plagued Indian publishers. Print remains a strong component of the market, nevertheless, as is clear when “hordes of people flock to book fairs in Patna or Kolkata to look for books in Hindi or Bengali. There’s constant excitement there,” Rastogi said.
“Languages (other than English) are really thriving, and in fact, there is an increased readership that we see in a lot of local languages,” said Meera Johri, who heads the prestigious Rajpal & Sons, publishers of Hindi classics, dictionaries and textbooks as well as contemporary works including books by Prof. Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate in economics.
“There is a renewed interest in buying Hindi books and reading Hindi books. Marathi has always been very vibrant. Malayalam and Bangla, too,” Johri notes. “One reason is that these languages have a very strong culture of reading.”
Also read : Why Hindi Matters in the Digital Age
Illustration by Santosh Pujari, from the book ''Going to Buy a Book', Published by Pratham Books