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.
Mark Twain: A Celebrated Literary Legacy
Mark Twain, the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was a renowned American author, humorist, and satirist who lived from November 30, 1835, to April 21, 1910. Born in Florida, Missouri, he spent his childhood along the Mississippi River, an experience that would greatly influence his later works. Mark Twain is best known for his novels “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and its sequel, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” which are considered classics of American literature.
Here’s a detailed look at Mark Twain’s life and contributions:
- Family and Childhood: Mark Twain was the sixth of seven children born to John and Jane Clemens. His family’s financial instability led to Twain taking up various jobs, including work as a typesetter, steamboat pilot, miner, and journalist.
- Pseudonym “Mark Twain”: The term “mark twain” is a riverboat term indicating a safe depth of two fathoms (12 feet), which is a depth considered safe for the passage of boats. Twain worked as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, and he adopted this pseudonym, which later became world-famous.
- Journalism: Twain’s career in writing began as a journalist. He worked for various newspapers, including the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, where he first used the pen name “Mark Twain.” His experiences as a reporter provided material for his later literary works.
- Literary Success: Mark Twain gained widespread acclaim with his first published work, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” a humorous short story. This success marked the beginning of his literary career, and he went on to write numerous novels, essays, and short stories.
- “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (1876): This novel, based on Twain’s own experiences growing up along the Mississippi River, is a classic coming-of-age story. It captures the essence of boyhood adventures, friendship, and the moral dilemmas faced by its young protagonist.
- “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1884): Often considered Twain’s masterpiece, this novel is a sequel to “Tom Sawyer” and follows the adventures of Huck Finn and his friend Jim, a runaway slave. The novel addresses issues of racism and social injustice, making it a significant work in American literature.
Social Critic and Satirist
- Critique of Society: Mark Twain was known for his keen wit and satirical observations of society. His works often critiqued the societal norms, hypocrisy, and racism prevalent in the 19th-century United States.
- Lecture Tours: Twain became a popular and sought-after public speaker. His lectures covered a wide range of topics, and he often shared humorous anecdotes and insights into his travels and experiences.
Later Life and Legacy
- Financial Struggles: Despite his literary success, Twain faced financial challenges due to investments and business ventures. He declared bankruptcy but managed to recover through his writing and lecture tours.
- Legacy: Mark Twain’s legacy endures through his timeless works that continue to be widely read and studied. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is particularly celebrated for its exploration of complex moral issues and its influence on American literature.
- Quotes and Humor: Twain is also remembered for his memorable quotes, characterized by their humor and insightful commentary on human nature. His wit and wisdom have left an indelible mark on literature and popular culture.
Mark Twain’s contributions to American literature go beyond his novels. His ability to blend humor with social commentary, coupled with a deep understanding of the human condition, has solidified his place as one of the greatest literary figures in history. As we celebrate the 1-year birthday of ChatGPT, we can also appreciate the enduring legacy of Mark Twain, whose works continue to captivate readers and inspire writers around the world.
Book Review: Branches of Study in Sanskrit
Let’s delve deep into the various Branches of Study in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is an excellent language, which is followed by several people globally. The Indian Government is giving great importance to promote the Sanskrit language. The recently concluded G20 summit had different Sanskrit wordings. In Kerala, we have Sanskrit schools and colleges including Kalady Sanskrit University. However, many people lack deep information about the Sanskrit language and there are not many books available.
Dr. Sowmyanarayanan has taken a bold step by authoring Branches of Study in Sanskrit. The book covers all the branches involved with the Sanskrit language. The book is divided into 26 chapters ranging from Artha Sastra to Zeeva Sastra. The author has covered the concepts clearly. He has quoted the English meaning of the Sanskrit terms and this will help readers. You will find several book references and quotes in Sanskrit. Even though you don’t know Sanskrit, you will be able to know the meaning of the content. The author has provided English translation and beginners will be able to follow the book without any difficulty.
The author has mentioned the real meaning of each Branches of Study in Sanskrit in English in the main title. I hope that this will help readers a lot. The book includes Sanskrit slokas along with the English translation. The author has covered each chapter in a short format for a simplified reading experience. It’s not necessary to read a lengthy book to learn the branches. A simple book like Branches of Study in Sanskrit is very much sufficient.
If you read the Branches of Study in Sanskrit book, you will know all the branches included with the language along with the meaning. The author should try to format the book in bigger font for titles, headings, etc. I would appreciate if there were any images included with the book. Moreover, the book should include the cover page.
I would highly recommend Branches of Study in Sanskrit if you would like to learn more about the Sanskrit language. Even if you don’t have any basic knowledge, you will find the book very informative and useful. The Branches of Study in Sanskrit: Ancient Indian Studies book is available on Amazon for an affordable price. You can instantly download the book after purchase. You need not have to pay anything if you have Kindle Unlimited subscription.
This review is powered by Blogchatter Book Review Program.
Book Review: Unbroken by Indrani Mukerjea
Unbroken – An Untold Story is basically an autobiography authored by the infamous Indrani Mukerjea. The author was charged with the murder of her own daughter, who has been missing since 2012. She was arrested in 2015 during an important family event. She was interrogated by a team of police officers for several hours in an undisclosed location. The author provides a long list of characters who were involved in the whole case. However, she had changed few character names because of their involvement in the case. You will not find any chapter list in the book. The book is divided into several parts and is very big. You will have to spend several days to read the book in case you feel bored. It’s not possible to read the whole book at a single stretch.
Indrani has narrated the whole events that happened when she was arrested. Did police officers sneak into her privacy? She was reportedly taken to a police station and the whole event has been depicted clearly by the author. She reveals the reason for her arrest. The Unbroken – An Untold Story has mentioned several sentences in Hindi followed by the English translation. It’s crazy that she still remembers all the tragic events that happened to her. You will know how she was treated during her custody. It looks like Indrani was told about her offence and how long she will have spent inside the jail. Indrani narrates a bad ordeal that she had to undergo when she was a kid in detail. It required great amount of patience to read the content.
The author was lodged inside Byculla Jail and she provides a detailed overview of the premises. it’s not possible to know information about the jails unless an Insider like Indrani throws open to the world. She talks about handing over the case to CBI, hospital admission, weight loss, and much more. The book talks about Sheena’s childhood. An interesting turn of events happened with Indrani’s life and you have to read Page 114 for that. It’s a long turn of events and can be completed only in multiple sittings.
The 12th chapter narrates Indrani’s intimate relationship with another person and the consequences. Indrani provides a detailed outline of her corporate life and experiences. She then provides the details included with the chargesheet and additional information about her prison life. Indrani talks about her experiences with Peter. Did Indrani Mukerjea encounter an intimate relationship on the mentioned day with Peter? You have to check Page 258. This chapter is too long but you will find it interesting because of the coverage style.
The relationship between Sheena and Rahul is well explained. Indrani also provides a comprehensive outlook about the betrayal she had to face with Peter. She also dedicated few sections about the characters that appeared inside the jail. From my point of view, Indrani had plans to write an autobiography when she was inside the jail itself. The chapter 27 is the main turning point of the author’s career. She briefly narrates the events but stops on a particular date. Indrani also provides a brief outline of her jail life during the COVID-19 pandemic. From my point of view, Indrani deliberately fell into intimate relationships (except childhood fiasco) by knowing the consequences very well.
Indrani tried hard to narrate the real-world experiences of her life in the book titled Unbroken. We don’t know whether the events that transpired in her life are real especially that of her childhood. However, we have to believe it because it’s the author’s biography. The author claims that Sheena is very much alive and this looks suspicious. This is because Sheena hasn’t made any personal appearances after 2012. If Sheena is indeed alive, then why she is not coming out and appearing before the media? This will acquit Indrani and also the case will be closed. However, this is not happening.
Indrani claims in the book that her daughter is alive somewhere in the world. Where? This is the big question. Even though Indrani availed bail, the public will still view her with suspicion unless she really proves that Shenna is alive. If Sheena is not alive and Indrani pleads innocence, then what really happened to Sheena? Why she is missing? or Who killed her? These questions will haunt Indrani forever even if any court acquits her from the case by giving the benefit of doubt. I would recommend Unbroken by Indrani Mukerjea if you would love to read real-life stories and autobiographies. However, the author is still an accused and has not yet been acquitted by any court.
Author: Indrani Mukerjea
Date: 30 July 2023
Pages: 400 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins India
This review is powered by Blogchatter Book Review Program
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