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Spending a lifetime with books

Spending a lifetime with books
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Spending a lifetime with books

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Like every year, April 23 was observed as “World Book Day” and as per UNESCO “In some countries, the number of books read seems to have doubled as people were forced to stay indoors due to pandemic though millions of underprivileged children who did not see the books are the main victims as they have no clue on whey they would see their school and the books which some of them get free

Like every year, April 23 was observed as "World Book Day" and as per UNESCO "In some countries, the number of books read seems to have doubled as people were forced to stay indoors due to pandemic though millions of underprivileged children who did not see the books are the main victims as they have no clue on whey they would see their school and the books which some of them get free.

My own thoughts went back on how as a rookie to the world of books I started working for a reputed century old British established Indian Publishing House in the mid-'70s. When I was in school, knowingly or otherwise, always used to see the name of the publisher on the first page which later while working learned was called title page which carried the name of the book and also the "Logo" of the publisher who has published the book.

When I joined the publishing house, there was little awareness about copyright and its ownership even among those who have been working in publishing house. It was my curiosity from school days which made me go in-depth to understand the copyright and its ownership, duration, and so on. On my own, I wrote toUNESCOto find out and learn more about copyright. Slowly, I learned how a simple typed or handwritten (pre-technology era) bunch of papers containing several pages were called "manuscript" or "typescript" (former handwritten and later one typed version) was converted as a book which all of us either read or learn to pass our examinations.

The process I learned was not so easy and that too when computers were not in use in any field leave alone in the publishing house. On many occasions, the authors would churn out the page or after page which needs to be typed as many Indian authors could not afford a typewriter. I have seen some editors instead of depending on typist or their assistants would sit and type on their own to bring it to a shape which would then go as the first draft to the author who will clear or even add more handwritten.

Once the raw typescript is ready it would go into the hands of those who work in what's called "Production Dept" for cost estimation to arrive at the price. To arrive at the cost, the cost of raw material which includes paper, printers charges, design, binding, packaging, etc gets added to arrive at manufacturing cost or in publishing term is called "Unit Cost" (cost of producing each book). The price of the course would depend upon the user and the number of copies printed. The published price would factor in how much discount book traders would get, royalty a percentage which the authors get on the published price (or cover price) and other overheads.

Once the books are ready, it is the turn of the salesforce who like medical representatives would start taking them to market which would again depend on the end-user. If educational books, the sales force would focus on that market, and if it's non-educational then they would directly go to book shops libraries, and so on. Of course, it is the team that includes editors, production, sales, stock, packers, and many others who are instrumental to make one learn from the books or read them to think.

I wish, our school children are taken to a publishing house for them to actually see how the books they see and read are made and in the process increase their curiosity.

N Nagarajan, Hyderabad

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