Jaipur BookMark 2018: Neetu Gupta on Indian writing, and the business of translations

Neeta Gupta chats about copyrights, policy changes and the rise of Indian language publishing.
Neeta Gupta
Neeta Gupta

Neeta Gupta is the Festival Co-Director for Jaipur BookMark, the publishers’ B2B segment. She is also the publisher at Yatra Books and the editor at Bhartiya Anuvad Parishad, a non-profit group that promotes translations in Indian languages. Neeta gives us her overview of the growth of the translations segment in India. 

What can we expect from the Jaipur BookMark segment this year?
I will be curating the business sessions at Jaipur BookMark 2018. This is the fifth edition of our B2B segment, held parallel to the Lit Fest. There is a growing need to discuss the business of books and hear from the key players that make it happen. It is for this reason that we started Jaipur BookMark in 2014, where publishers come together and discuss aspects of the trade. It brings together publishers, literary agents, writers, translators and booksellers to ‘talk business’ through focused sessions and roundtable discussions. We will be discussing the journey of a book in all its dimensions — from stimulating discussions with aspiring writers, literary agents and publishers to book cover designers, graphic artists, and audio and digital platform providers. 
Any exciting projects we can expect?
I am a publisher with Yatra Books, which specialises in original creative writing and translations in English, Hindi and other Indian languages. We are delighted to announce a new imprint, Tethys. The focus of the Tethys imprint will be to expand our scope beyond translation, and delve into issues of global importance. This will be launched with the title, Every Second Counts by Dr William A Haseltine, which is about the incredible journey of the Emergency Management and Research Institute in pioneering 108, India’s first systematic emergency response service.

How are things changing for new writing in regional languages? 
At Yatra Books, we have been publishing translations into six Indian languages — including Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Bangla, Odia and Gujarati — for over six years, in collaboration with Westland Books. It is some measure of our success in this endeavour when seven of our Hindi translations made it into a recently launched Hindi Bestseller list! As regards translation from Indian languages into English, there is a growing demand. More and more South Asian writing is being published in English translation. However, we must acknowledge that most of their readers tend to be South Asians, including the diaspora, for whom reading these translations is like returning to their roots. 

What efforts are being taken specifically to monitor unauthorised translations?
If you mean unauthorised translations into Indian languages — it is prolific, but with the increasing influence of events like the Jaipur Lit Fest and Jaipur BookMark, Indian language publishers are increasingly understanding the value of copyright infringements and acquiring proper publication rights for translations. This year at Jaipur Bookmark, we have a discussion on the ‘Publishing Process and Policy Perspectives’, a key roundtable session that addresses some of the pressing issues around policy changes, GST, ISBN, Copyright Infringement, skills development and employment opportunities in trade publishing. 

How are you encouraging new writers?
What new writers need first and foremost is mentoring. We need to have opportunities available for the growing number of aspiring writers to hone their skills at residencies and writing programmes. There aren’t enough of those. We have also begun an initiative at Jaipur BookMark called the First Book Club Mentorship Programme. Aspiring authors from across India shortlisted for this mentorship programme will pitch their ideas to an expert panel of agents, publishers and mentors.

The Jaipur Bookmark segment will run from January 24-28.

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