-Brij Kishore Sharma
Chairman, National Book Trust
Organiser correspondent Preeti Sharma spoke to NBT Chairman: Excerpts:
Q. What are the objectives of NBT?
We are a highly professional body working for the last forty-six years in the field of quality publication. We publish reasonably priced books on a whole variety of subjects in 18 Indian languages, including English, for all segments of the society and age groups. We want to work as the nodal body for promotion of Indian books and for dissemination of the book culture in India. To accomplish our goals we organise book fairs, exhibitions throughout the country at local, regional and national levels and also participate in various international book fairs. Besides, we make books available at the doorsteps of the people through mobile exhibitions. We also organise seminars, workshops, authors? meets and other literary activities.
Q. What future plans do you have for NBT? Which books are coming out in the near future?
We want to start some two or three new series. We are working on them currently. One is on thoughts, and it is called Vicharmala which is aimed to cater to the masses. Others could be on history, dealing with small and interesting episodes from it. In the near future, we are planning to release four biographies-Vivekananda, Dr Raghubir, Vir Savarkar and Rana Sanga which will be written by eminent writers.
Q. In today'sworld, do you see any change in people'sreading habits? Is the electronic media posing a threat to the printed word?
I don'tfeel any threat from the television as such because books have always had a special attraction. You can touch a book, feel it, take it along with you everywhere, and sometimes you want to read it again and again. Do you enjoy such privileges in the electronic media? Well, everyone cannot be a book lover; even in the ancient times it was not so. A certain section of the society buys books. No doubt, the television gives entertainment but the standard is not maintained; it is not uniform. Reading a novel and watching a movie made on it, provide different types of experiences altogether. The media has its own problems; it is more commercialised. Each has to be dealt with in an independent manner.
Q. How do you manage to bring out such moderately-priced books in comparison to the private pub-lishers?
Ours is a public service organi-sation-not worried about losses. We have got a large number of titles; even if we incur losses on one title, we can recover it on another.
Q. At the recently concluded World Book Fair in February 2004, we saw many new publishers with their stalls. Were the publishers satisfied with the arrangements made by NBT and what was the response of book lovers by way of sales?
The World Book Fair was a great success. We had a total area of more than 32,000 metres at our disposal-the largest ever since we held our first show. The publishers were by and large satisfied. They reported good sales.
Q. In which part of the country does NBT plan to hold book fairs this year?
We concluded our last book fair in Visakhapatnam. This summer too we are planning one in Shimla, sometime in May. The World Book Fair is held only once in two years. We will have one national fair and four or five state or regional fairs. We also participate in international book fairs. Recently, we represented India at Bangkok along with other publishers.
Q. Can you name some of the best-selling titles of NBT?
Some of our best-selling titles are Freedom Struggle, Some Common Ailments, Energy, Ayurveda Unravelled, Space Today, Headache, Our Judiciary, Rani Laxmi Bai and Common Birds. Apart from these, we have record sales in children”s books. ?Popular Science? and ?Creative Learning? are our other most-in-demand series.
Q. What is the motive behind bringing out popular science books? Is there ample demand for science-based books?
Yes, there is a great demand for popular science books. All students learn science as a subject in schools and through popular science books, they can learn still more on the subject. These books are entertaining and do not put pressure on the mind. Mostly students-whether from metropolitan cities or small towns-get drawn towards them.