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S&S in town, cult babycare book in tow

New Delhi: The cult babycare book, `Dr Spock Baby and Childcare`, is being Indianised as international publishing house Simon & Schuster opens its Asian operations with a base here in mid-August.

"A team of editors is presently working to Indianise the S&S cult babycare primer `Dr Spock Baby and Childcare` to make it more relevant to Indian women," Rahul Srivastava, the director of the company`s sales and marketing who will head the operations, told reporters in an interview.

The book was published in 1946 and is one of the biggest bestsellers of all time.

The publishing house, rated among the top four in the world with Random House, Penguin and Harper Collins, will offer Indian readers "rupee-priced books specially selected and formatted to appeal to Indian readers", the official said.

"Publishing in India is the fastest growing market in the English language-speaking world," Srivastava said.

"Reading habits are changing and Indian readers want to read more books by Indian authors or books relevant to them, as the bestseller lists indicate. This is a sign of a maturing market," he added.

Srivastava said: "Simon & Schuster wanted to harness this strength of the country`s publishing industry, the growing retail bookstore presence and the deep-seated culture that prizes books and literacy."

The publishing house is known for its children`s books, fiction, non-fiction, self-help and audio titles. It publishes 2,000 books annually under 35 imprints.

Set up in 1924 in the US, Simon & Schuster Inc. is a division of the CBS Corporation with a wide network in Europe.

"As a global publishing company, we had to come to India. We are happy to be here at the right time when the market is expanding and changing rapidly with the advent of large stores and online stores," the official said.

"E-books will be big in India when they catch the readers` fancy," he added.

An estimate by leading publishers in India says the current English language publishing market is estimated at Rs.7,000 crore ($1.4 billion) and is growing by 10 percent annually.

Statistics furnished by the US Commercial Service puts the number of English users in India at 350 million with an average literacy rate of 68 percent and shooting.

Srivastava said: "Simon & Schuster will offer Indian readers a broad selection of titles from the company`s worldwide imprints as well as titles from his distribution with a focus on books by Indian and Asian authors."

The Indian S&S base will cater to South Asia "but on a case-by-case basis will ship books to Southeast Asia too".

The publishing house will get into print in India with an inaugural bouquet of three titles, "The Third Alternative" by Stephen R. Covey, "Allah, Liberty and Love" by Irshad Manji and "Millionaire Messenger" by Brendon Burchard, Srivastava said.

The operational head of Simon & Schuster said: "The rapid expansion of large retail chains like Crossword, Timeout and Landmark as well as the meteoric rise of Flipkart has changed the business of selling books."

"Readers are also willing to experiment with new genres and as the market gets more organised, we will see better marketing and promotion opportunities to support authors and books," Srivastava said.

The publisher has a big Indian database of writers.

"We do publish writers Siddharth Mukherjee, Arvind Adiga, Indra Sinha, Basharat Peer, Nisha Minhas, Mira Kamdar and Rajeev Peshwaria to name a few," he said.

IANS

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