Much to the disappointment of booklovers, Westland, one of the largest publishing houses in India, is being shut down by e-commerce giant Amazon, they announced on Tuesday.
The publishing company, which was acquired by Amazon from Trent Ltd, a subsidiary of Tata Group, in 2016, has published works of several bestselling authors including Amish Tripathi, Chetan Bhagat, Ashwin Sanghi, Rashmi Bansal, Rujuta Diwekar, Preeti Shenoy, Devdutt Pattanaik, Anuja Chauhan and Ravi Subramanian.
"After a thorough review, we have made the difficult decision to no longer operate Westland. We are working closely with the employees, authors, agents, and distribution partners on this transition and we remain committed to innovating for customers in India," said Amazon in a statement.
The news regarding the closure came as a shock to the editors, Westland team members and its public relations agency, who according to a staff member requesting anonymity, were informed about the decision today only.
It was particularly sad for bestselling fiction writer Ashwin Sanghi, who wrote his debut novel with Westland in 2008 and went on to publish a "dozen books" over that many years.
"It is sad to see the exit of a publishing institution. The Westland team is one of the finest in the business and there are many emotions and memories of my publishing journey with them that shall always remain with me," Sanghi told PTI.
Founded in 1962, Westland is one of India's largest English-language trade publishers, bringing out print books and e-books in genres ranging from popular and literary fiction to business, politics, biography, spirituality, popular science, health and self-help.
Its key publishing imprints include 'Context', which publishes award-winning literary fiction and non-fiction; 'Eka', which publishes the best of contemporary writing in Indian languages and in translation; 'Tranquebar', home to the best new fiction from the Indian subcontinent, the eponymous Westland Sport and Westland Business; and Red Panda, which publishes a range of books for children of different ages.
Several of the Westland's authors and readers took to Twitter to express their disappointment on the shutting down of a "great publishing house".
"Rotten news. @karthikavk and team have run a great publishing house with a strong list of books. It has been a pleasure to work with Westland. Deeply troubling that a successful venture can be shut down this way from above, for god knows what reasons," tweeted historian Manu S Pillai, author of The Courtesan, The Mahatma and the Italian Brahmin.
"Westland is my publisher and did so much for me, taking a chance on a non-celeb author. The editors are the best in India and they brought out the best and most hardhitting non-fiction you will see on the shelves," tweeted Kavitha Rao, author of the 2021-released Lady Doctors: The Untold Stories of India's First Women in Medicine.
"Heartbreaking and upsetting day for Indian publishing. There isn't much to say except I hope we go out and buy as many Westland/Context/Eka books we can in the coming days, for all the wonderful editors, authors, and translators who worked tirelessly to build their stellar list," tweeted Sayantan Ghosh, senior commissioning editor at publishing house Simon & Schuster.
Westland books Delhi: A Soliloquy and Indian Icon: A Cult Called Royal Enfield were declared winners of the prestigious JCB Prize for Literature and Gaja Capital Business Book Prize last year, respectively.