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: Podcasting, Wellness and Monetizing for Writers in India by Dr Amrita Basu
Nowadays, bloggers are finding new avenues for the promotion of their content. In addition to traditional blogging, we now have podcasting and video blogging. You should note that video creation is a tedious process since it involves several parameters such as capturing, editing, and much more. Hence, you should tap deep into Podcasting, which is a simple way to spread your content across the globe. You just need to write the script and record your voice. However, you should know the tips and tricks involved with the creation of Podcasting. Dr Amrita Basu recently published Podcasting, Wellness and Monetizing for Writers in India ebook in association with Blogchatter. The book has been published as part of the Blogchatter Ebook Carnival.
My first impression after scanning the book is that the design layout is beautiful and organized. Unlike traditional Table of Contents, Amrita has integrated pictures as TOC, which is a new way to introduce content. You will not be able to locate this type of TOC in print books and hence the importance of ebooks comes into the picture. The author has mentioned several crucial tips using which you can start your own podcast. This chapter will be very useful for beginners.
You will learn how to record a podcast including few medicine-related tips because the author is a professional ENT surgeon. The book examines the pros and cons of a particular podcasting app, which will be useful not only for beginners but also for experienced podcasters. Amrita has explained why she preferred one particular podcasting app over another.
The book also includes a separate chapter on Mental Health. The author has added her own ads in between chapters. The book also covers monetization and digital marketing tips, which will be surely useful for beginners. The writing style is simple and I really enjoyed the book. The book design looks identical to kid’s book with large fonts. The chapter title is mentioned on each page and this will help readers to know the discussed content without going back to the TOC. There are only 30 pages and you will be able to complete the reading quickly. Please download my Windows 11 Kickstart ebook if you would like to explore Windows 11 in detail.
Podcasting, Wellness, and Monetizing for Writers in India by Dr Amrita Basu is an excellent ebook using which you can explore the world of podcasting. The book will be useful for beginners and for those who are not aware of podcasting. The book is just a starting point in your quest to enter the podcasting world.
The review has been written as a part of Blogchatter E-Book Carnival book reviews.
Book Review: The Second Innings
Retirement happens in the lives of all people. In the case of Government services, people know about the correct retirement date. The Second Innings by Neerja Bhatnagar examines the various aspects of post-retirement life. The author feels that retirement is a new ball game of life. Even though many people know about the correct retirement date, they are not prepared in advance for it. The author observes that people struggle to find their purpose in life after retirement. The book is divided into several chapters.
In the first chapter, the author delves deep into the importance of developing interests other than work or job in life. You should think about hobbies. If you are good at drawing, you can do drawing job post retirement. You can even teach painting skills to others via YouTube. Do you want to be happy after retirement? The second chapter provides a detailed summary of the various aspects that makes you happy. The next chapter provides information about old age issues in a step-by-step way.
The author has examined the steps to take care of your bone health, which is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. The digestive system is important for happy retirement life and the author has narrated the various aspects in the next chapter.
The book also includes a dedicated chapter about health insurance, meditation, and depression. The author has gone tech-savvy and covered the trending Cryptocurrency, which will be very useful for senior citizens. The Second Innings book also provides information about useful Gadgets for senior citizens. The author also took time to cover the various Government schemes.
I would appreciate if the author should provide importance to Table of Contents formatting and chapter titles. Moreover, each chapter should include images related to the content to entertain readers. From my point of view, the book will be very useful for readers who wish to learn about the various aspects involved with the retirement process. Many people don’t know certain things and the author has explained them in a lucid style. You can download The Second Innings book directly via Blogchatter.
This review has been written as a part of Blogchatter E-Book Carnival book reviews.
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.
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