Monthly Archives: September 2011

Publishing Next: Day One, Session 1

The conference kicked off with a stimulating panel on “Where Are Digital Books Headed?”, chaired by Jaya Bhattacharji Rose and Radhika Menon (Tulika Books), Pratibha Sastry (JiniBooks and JiniLabs), James Birdle (Bookkake, London Lit Plus) and Kailash Balani (Aditya Books, Balani Infotech).

Radhika Menon shared a fascinating presentation on how Tulika has colloborated with several partners to create content and provide techn0logy solutions to bring books closer to children in a socially meaningful way. “Just clickability is not enough”, she said. Was really taken by the multilingual dimension of Tulika’s work.

Pratibha spoke about her own varied experience in the entertainment industry and mentioned the runaway success of Amanda Hopkins in retailing her own e-books.  Kailash Balani mentioned MHRD’s plan to provide e-books to over 20,000 colleges in India, while James Bridle compared the UK and US e-book markets through the contrasting rise to fortune of Amazon’s Kindle in the UK and Barnes and Noble’s Nook in the US.

Was really struck by James’ passion for the idea of the book and the parallel he drew between the identity and wonership issues about e-books and real books.

Posted by Debanjan Chakrabarti.


Real pity

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It’s always good (and green) in Goa: PublishingNext Conference

You have got to give it to Goa. This is my first trip to this slender slice of heaven-on-earth in the monsoons. With Goa, one expects a lot of green and blue all the year round. But it really is difficult to imagine how incredibly lush and green Goa is during the rains. I am here to attend the PublishingNext conference organised by Leonard Fernandes of Cinnamon Teal, the winner of British Council’s IYCE award for publishing last year.

The genial Leonard and his team were there to meet and greet every delegate and speaker at Dabolim airport as we arrived in dribs and drabs yesterday. As some of us made our way to our hotel in Goa’s capital city, Panjim, we watched in awe the various vibrant shades of green loom in and zoom past our speeding bus on either sides of the grey road. And the sea sparkled and shimmered not too far away.

My colleague Rwituja and I ambled around our hotel in the evening. There is an inexplicable mix of the old and the new in the capital, best reflected perhaps in its architecture – elegant old colonial buildings crumbling away, gradually being replaced by a style that can only be described as hideous modernism.

Am here to learn more about what the future holds for publishing in the brave old digital world. I am particularly keen to explore what avenues British Council might explore with our English Interface work that looks at (among other things) commissioning and disseminating action research on ELT from across the globe.

The conference aims to address the following:

  • Where are Digital Books headed?
  • The Impact of Alternate Publishing
  • Book Marketing in the Age of Social Media
  • Publishing Houses of the Future
  • Copyright Issues and IP
  • Managing the Translation Market

The programme for the day looks exciting. More anon.

PS: And it’s good to be in Goa in any season for one other reason. A bottle of Tuborg beer costs Rs 25, a bottle of water Rs 20. What do you suppose I am having to slake my thirst?

Posted by Debanjan Chakrabarti, Head English Interface, British Council India

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I’m now a thoroughly converted Active Citizen

Prashant Singh of Ulfah Arts, Birmingham, one of our participants at the Active Citizens Workshop held recently in Mumbai writes:


Some say that variety is the spice of life and I couldn’t agree more after attending the five-day Active Citizens Facilitators Training held at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India, from 23rd July to 29th July 2011. I have been active in the international development scene for quiet a while now and I was expecting another useful but bog standard training event which will not only give me skills in becoming a better workshop facilitator, but will also help me become a part of the world-wide Active citizens community. I couldn’t have been far from the truth! The five days i spent at TISS helped me to not only formulate a better way of working in the third sector but it also gave my belief in the importance of social work a new lease of life. The people, the stories and the real-life examples of social empowerment were only the tip of the iceberg, and before i knew I was surrounded by pioneers of south Asian social sector, rich conversations developing real projects, strong opinions challenging anything which went against the benefit of the masses, and real people who don’t just do social work, they live it!


Actors, Directors, literacy workers, respected academics, forum theatre practitioners – almost everyone in the group had a unique skill set which complimented the needs of the group and i can only credit that to the amazing work by a well organised British Council team. Each and everyone invited by BC absolutely deserved to be there and as if like cogs of a wheel each one of us was important to the five day training in some way or the other! The two facilitators – Mike and Dan did an amazing job at bringing the group together as one cohesive force and seek real solutions to the social problems around us. It was their exercises; energizers and team activities, which really help us, nurture hive thinking. By the end of the training almost everyone had a full idea of what they want to do with the training and how the relationships we had formed during the five days in Mumbai could help each other achieve development goals .


I’m now a thoroughly converted Active citizen and I’m looking forward to training a further 30 in Birmingham, UK. It was a really good experience, one people might call ‘life affirming’ and I look forward to developing social empowerment projects in India, Pakistan,BangladeshandSri Lankawith the help of my new-found NGO family!


Well done to the entire BC team behind the Active citizens project, you guys are accumulating some decent karma, keep it up! :-)


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