The venue was the Krishnadas Shama State Central Library in Panaji, Goa. The subject of the conference was Publishing. A bevvy of folks from all walks of print and eBook life gathered together to talk about the printed word. Facebook groups came to life when I bumped into several writers whose blogs and books I had read.
Organised by Leonard Fernandes and Queenie Rodrigues Fernandes of CinnamonTeal Publishing, PubNext is a venue where publishers and writers come together. Mamang Dai’s keynote address was a dreamy ride to the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh. “My mother tells me to come back to the world, but I need to write every day,” she said. Her talk on the idiosyncrasies of writing an unscripted language and her travails with the entire question of rights and permissions gave the publishers there a lot to think about. In the midst of rules and regulations, where is the room for art to reach its rightful audience?
The Conference was useful to both writers and publishers alike. For instance, a writer the panel on Copyrights, Contracts and Licensing would strike a chord as writers are only now becoming aware of the importance of reading their contracts and not getting into the publishing word blindfolded. For a publisher, the same panel taught the lesson that a publisher could not cave in completely to a writer’s demands as that would put them out of business. So it’s all about balance.
The highlight of PubNext was really the Next. Would the written word survive at all? Of course, even if children search Youtube and rural couples hold films in the palm of their hands, a room full of book lovers would never submit to the return of orality. Change in what content implies has put marketing in the front seat. The reluctant writer might as well attend a panel on podcasting so that she can gain more followers and self-publishing so that she can take production and distribution into her own hands.
Next is not a bad word– in spite of all the negativity and naysaying we see everyday on prime time television, things are getting better. The buzz that Daily Hunt set humming was that 90% of the consumption of digital work was in regional languages. So the lobby for standardization of Indian fonts makes sense. This is a market that will grow and by the looks of it, eBook technology may give regional languages and translated versions the growth spurt that they deserve.
Digitization has affected the academic textbook industry in a good way as well- you now have e-catalogs and searchable knowledge. Text books don’t have to be an exercise in boredom- they can be supplemented with animations, though in the UK even e textbooks are not as popular as they could be, considering that you can carry all of them in a single devise and highlight,annotate, etc. This is a field to watch out for.
There were a couple of workshops too- I attended one on Using Social Media to market books. In a span of forty five minutes we were turned into a group of competitive teams trying to sell books. Knowing how to sell the book is becoming more important than writing one, though there’s no escape from either for a writer.
“An interesting tidbit of information was from the The Changing Library: State of Library Infrastructure in India panel. There are 54,000 libraries in India. The question is where are they and who uses them ,” said Jaya.
I’ll leave you with a quote uttered that struck as the most meaningful amidst all the exciting talk about the future of publishing: “A life without books is meaningless.” Don’t you agree?