Neelachumaru, a Malayalam short storybook authored by Twitter enthusiasts has been released by Timeline Publishers at Rs. 120. Twitter is often called as a microblogging platform, but sometimes the tweets could result in creating new business ventures. Neelachumaru is entirely born out of Twitter, and the book has been released at Chai Cofi in Kochi on March 25.
The project started when a group of three youngsters Akhil, Hisham, and Midlajj met on Twitter and ignited the idea of launching a book comprising of crowdsourced short stories. Unlike other books, you will not find a story from a single author. Instead, you will find a collection of 11 short stories from 11 new writers. Hence, you will never be bored while reading the book.
Interestingly, the stories were sourced via Twitter. The publishing company accepted all the entries collected from Twitter users and shortlisted 50 out of a whopping 200. From the shortlisted 50 entries, three popular authors were given the responsibility to shortlist 11 short stories. We hope the remaining stories will be published on Amazon Kindle shortly.
What Went Wrong at Westland Books?
Amazon has decided to shut down Westland Books amidst chaos from publishers. The company will delete all the books filed under Westland Books starting March 1. The move is part of the e-commerce marketplace’s decision to shut down the company from April 1. Amazon announced the shocking news of the shutdown on February 1 via an email message to all authors. The sudden and unexpected news has created tremors among the reader’s circle especially when it comes to fiction. The Westland has published several fiction titles from reputed authors like Chetan Bhagat, Smrithi Irani, and much more.
We expect Amazon to remove all books from the marketplace by today midnight. If you are yet to purchase any Westland books, then you have time until tonight. You should note that several book stores have also announced special deals for the Westland Books.
They are regularly updating the stock details on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Moreover, the book stores across India are also shipping the Westland books globally. We came across instances where a popular book store in Bangalore has stocked up 50 copies of a book so that they can sell them even after shutdown.
We don’t have any clear estimate as to when Amazon will pull down the books from its shelves. The company has given an estimate that it will be shutdown starting April 1. The books will not be available either for purchase or for distributor order from March 1. We don’t know whether the company has given any exceptions to new books.
According to sources, the rights will be reversed to the author and they can publish the book with another publisher. The royalties will be paid for books sold until February 28 as per the terms. It’s a sad time for authors since their hard work is getting erased from the bookshelves. Many authors are spending time on Twitter with #westlandbooks hashtag requesting people to buy the books early or to donate them to the libraries. This is because many small authors want to see their books inside libraries.
The main reason for the shutdown of Westland Books is attributed to the bad financials. The publisher survived from the sale of books published by bigger authors. Amazon paid huge money to few select authors for commissioning books. They sold under the tag “Amazon Originals” just like they do with movies. The company also paid good upfront money and royalties to published authors. The management is of the impression that Westland books haven’t scaled up as expected and hence they decided to shut down the operations. The publisher and employees will lose their job and they probably find some other new venture involving all authors.
The Real Reasons Behind Ultimate Fall Of Westland Books
In a major jolt to the publishing industry, Amazon has decided to close down Westland Books with effect from March 31, 2022. While the book shop owners can place orders for Westland books until February 15, the sale of all the current books will stop on February 28. The news came as a rude shock for existing and upcoming authors. This is because the royalty will be affected once Westland Books closes down.
The company had emailed the authors about the next steps and this includes timeline for the payment of royalty. The existing authors will continue to get royalties as per the terms. Amazon also clarified that the rights of the content will be reverted back to the author unless the company is not acquired by a third-party publisher.
Amazon acquired Westland Publications from Trent Ltd in 2016, which is a Tata subsidiary. Westland has produced plenty of authors like Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi and Rujuta Diwekar, and much more. The small-scale authors who have published with Westland are stunned because their books will be removed from the shelves. However, book stores will continue to stock them since there will be increase in demand for the books.
The imprints of Westland include Context, Eka, Red Panda, Tranquebar, and Westland Non-fiction. According to Amazon, the management has reviewed the business operations and the decision to close down has been taken because the business model is not sustainable. However, the company appreciated the work done by VK Karthika and her team. The books that are published will continue to sell across book stores. However, we don’t know whether those books will be available on Amazon. The company announced that Amazon team is working closely with the employees, authors, agents, and partners on this transition and they are committed to customers in India.
There are reports on social media that Amazon closed Westland because they published books that are critical of the Government. Amazon India has denied that the decision to close down Westland Books is not related to any political pressures and Government policies. We feel that Westland has been closed because of the following probable reasons.
All publishers make an initial advance and then in parts depending upon the delivery of the work. In the case of Westland, Amazon paid crores to few select authors like Chetan Bhagat, Amish among others who worked with the publishing house as an exclusive author. There are reports that Amazon paid Rs 5 crore to Amish in 2013 to commission his exclusive book. However, normal non-celebrity authors would not have got this much money but they got a reliable platform to publish. Amazon lost considerable money by adopting this approach. If Westland had paid money in a uniform manner, then this closure would not have happened.
Amazon is doing the same thing with Prime Video where the company pays huge money to top-rated actors like Akshay Kumar, Mohanlal, Suriya and etc. However, the company rejects films acted by other upcoming actors who are popular in the respective states. If Amazon is not adopting uniformity, then Prime Video will have to face the same fate as Westland one day.
Westland has paid importance to liberal views. The company hired authors with hate for one person, which is our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With 90% of people adopting Nation First approach after 2014, it’s clear that there are no takers for those books that are priced higher. Moreover, the content was written purely on the basis of fictional and unverified facts. These kinds of books are not sustainable in long run although it creates hype among liberals. If the company had paid attention to content, then the closure situation would not have happened. The publisher has adopted a destructive approach and this has affected 90% of authors with excellent content.
We are not saying all Westland books are bad. There are authors who have published excellent content including educational books but off late the publisher has compromised the content to invoke their liberal and feminist ideologies. We have two or three Westland Books titles inside our bookshelves. The company should have paid attention to educational and competitive exam books. They should have published Year Books like Manorama Year Book every year, which will sell well like plum cakes.
We have been going through Twitter feeds on a daily basis ever since Westland announced closure and observed that none of the people are recommending Smriti Irani’s Lal Salaam. However, there is a rush to buy books that are critical of the Government.
The paper quality of the books matters a lot. The publisher should use good-quality paper and font styles to attract buyers. The evolution of Kindle books has disrupted the publishing industry very much. There are only very few people who purchase paperbacks now. However, there are people who only opt for paperbacks because of their sheer passion. You should note that there is a decline in the purchase of magazines after the pandemic with people across the world opting for e-magazines.
If the book is priced high then no one will purchase books. Even I wait for Amazon Great Indian Festival to buy books with discounted pricing. Hence, publishers should fix prices in a competitive manner to attract buyers.
Westland Books will be closed on March 31 but the publishing industry will continue to work uninterrupted. It’s just that Westland’s business model was not in tune with the overall revenue model of the company. We are concerned about the fate of established small authors and we hope they will find another publisher to showcase their content. We hope employees will be able to find jobs with other publishers. There is a possibility that the current Westland publisher Karthika could launch her own publishing company.
Note: The views expressed in this article are based on the personal opinion of the author.
Book Review: The Magic of Friendships
Friendships last forever. Sometime, friends will come to your rescue in case you are isolated from the outside world. The Magic of Friendships by Shubha Vilas delves deep into the various factors associated with friendship. The book is divided into 7 chapters. The author has made a great attempt to explain all the facts within 200 pages.
In the first chapter, the author provides Dos and Don’ts of friendship including how to identify blood relationships. Shubha talks about four levels of friendship and provides the steps required to deal with them. The importance of like-minded friends has been detailed in the next section. If you have a large number of friends, then you should conduct an assessment regarding how good is your friendship level is. You can measure them after reading the second chapter. The author provides Vedic phrases with the meaning to enable you to grasp the real meaning.
The next chapter examines the relationship between friendship and empathy. Do you want to know whether friendship is a responsibility or a competition? You should read Chapter 4. The next chapter examines the importance of peer pressure and self-esteem in dealing with friendships. Towards the middle of this chapter, the author provides several questions related to the topic in question.
You can create real value in friendships and you can read more about how to do it in the next chapter. Even if you maintain good friendships with others, you can expand your knowledge by reading this book. The last chapter examines the relationship between friends and various elements. Shubha has explained the reality of online friendships beautifully. You will learn the pros and cons of online friendships with the rapid change in technology.
The Magic of Friendships book provides a detailed summary at the end of each chapter in addition to the activity tasks. You should preferably complete the tasks to gauge the level of understanding you have gathered after reading the book.
I very much enjoyed the style of presentation throughout the book. If you would like to gain more from your friendship, you should read The Magic of Friendships book authored by Shubha Vilas. You can read this book even if you have friendships because the author has mentioned few hidden secrets inside the book. You can purchase The Magic of friendships book by clicking here.
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