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Fact more engaging than fiction for Indian readers
Bhuma Shrivastava in New Delhi | September 28, 2006 03:08 IST
Fact, often stranger than fiction, is also becoming more saleable. The tale of Indian publishing is undergoing a twist, with more and more non-fiction books figuring on the best-sellers' list.
Today, non-fiction regularly bags as many as six of the top 10 slots, compared with only 2-3 three years ago. The average sale of a non-fiction books has vaulted to 10,000-15,000 copies, compared with only 2,000-3,000 five years ago.
The last few months have seen an specially successful run for the genre. In India, Amartya Sen's The Argumentative Indian and Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat sold 80,000 and 75,000 copies, respectively. In the UK, they sold just 20,000 and 35,000, respectively.
Jaswant Singh's Call To Honour sold 30,000 copies, while Mani Bhaumik's Code Name God and Vikram Seth's Two Lives sold 25,000 and 20,000 copies, respectively.
Former banker Bimal Jalan's Future of India sold over 10,000 and Being Indian by Pawan Verma managed to sell 15,000 copies. Pervez Musharraf's autobiography In The Line of Fire, tipped to sell at least 15,000 copies in India, could soon join the rank of this year's non-fiction best-sellers.
Not surprisingly, nearly half of the forthcoming launches by publishers like Penguin and Rupa are non-fiction books. In fact, 80 of Penguin's annual basket of 180 books come in this category.
"There is a whole new class of readers emerging out of the Indian economic boom. This genre strikes a chord with their concerns," said Thomas Abraham, Penguin's president and chief executive officer.
According to an industry analyst, the scholarly appeal of non-fiction made it 'fashionable' reading. Another driver for the changing reader tastes seems to be the world's fascination with anything India-centric.
"Globally, there is a lot of interest in India, its culture and rising economic power. That is also driving the sales of many such books," said Om Arora, head of Variety Book Depot, one of the largest book distributors in the country.
The industry, however, doesn't see this as the end of fiction writing. "Serious and good fiction still sells. However, the composition of the reading population is currently skewed towards non-fiction," said Kapish Mehra, publisher, Rupa and Co.