INDIA: In another episode of Transcontinental Times feature 360° Live Show, TCT’s CFO Sahra Ardah interviewed an Indian teacher & an eBook entrepreneur Mr. Shailesh Khadtare.
Shailesh Khadtare is a teacher, educator from a private school in India and an eBook entrepreneur. He has created an eBook publishing website named bronato.com. In this interview, he opened up numerous details about the eBook industry.
A diary of my dreams
Talking about how he started, Khadtare said, “I was liked of reading so, I used to read a lot and as a teacher, that is one of the essential needs; but one day, when I was going through the google, I came across an article about the publishing sector & an influence of the Kindle across the United States.”
“That’s when the thought occurred to me: if this can happen in the United States, why can’t it happen in India? I keep my business ideas in a ‘Diary of My Dreams,’ and when I scribbled this concept in that diary, I couldn’t sleep that night! So I began to work on the concept, and things began to take off.”
When asked about the hurdles he faced, Khadtare stated, “I was not from an IT background. The field in which I worked demanded a thorough understanding of computers. We began in 2014, and throughout the course of a year, we learned a lot. For the past 7-8 years, we have been fully paperless. Back in 2014, when I was organising my eBook launch, Kindle was not available in India, and Flipkart, one of the industry’s largest merchants, opted to exit the market.”
“Furthermore, the biggest barrier was people, because eBooks were not something people favoured back then, and overcoming this impression was a problem in and of itself. In India, the paperback format has absolutely conquered the market,” he remarked.
A positive pandemic
Discussing the effect of the pandemic, Khadtare stated, “Pandemic has positively hit me, because, it generated a need & awareness about eBooks, in the Indian market. We are not convincing people about the importance of eBooks, earlier we had to.”
“As the pandemic halted many publishers from printing owing to scarcity of paper & much more; individuals recognised eBooks as a great opportunity,” Khadtare remarked of the pandemic’s impact on publishers.
“In addition, we have a few clients for whom we are publishing eBooks, as well as a few printers and international publishers with whom we are collaborating. Also, if someone needs printed materials, we will assist them; nevertheless, our expertise is in eBooks,” he noted.
Khadtare commented about the position of paperback books in the Indian market, “Paper books are paper books, and they will not disappear at all.”
“eBooks are merely a supporting medium; despite the fact that they are opening up a plethora of new prospects, they are an adapted object; adapted from paper books. Publishers, on the other hand, should consider eBooks as a serious consideration.”
“Farther, we are not going to try to eliminate paper books we are a supportive tool to the paper book industry. Reading is an art & art cannot vanish,” he added.
The importance of opportunity
When discussing chances for a group of young writers, Khadtare noted, “When I first started in this business, I understood that publishers used to pick what stuff to publish. We don’t only print books; we publish dreams! We publish a book without evaluating or comparing the author. Furthermore, providing an opportunity is critical because only capable content will excel.”
Khadtare’s bronato.com released 38 novels on their own last year. Khadtare stated, “As we work for other publishers as well, we have released about 50 volumes in the association.”
“We’re working with a smaller crew for the time being, but we’re looking into new options,” he added.
When asked about the number of eBooks getting published, Khadtare said, “I won’t say that too many books are getting published; in fact, very less books are getting published. Because everyone has a different story and very few individuals tend to write any stuff. But publishers are very selective about what they are publishing.”
“Talking about myself as a publisher, when I get a manuscript written by someone, instead of being a publisher, I prefer to be a reader first and as a publisher, I consider other rudimentary things like marketing, charges, etc.; without making any judgment towards the writer.”
Furthermore, he added, “Earlier we used to advertise through various social media platforms. We started educating people about eBooks through organizing literature competitions. But since the last few years, we have achieved congenial results and we are getting titles.”
Conversing about the success stories, he said that they don’t scan the author’s accounts without their permission. “One of our bestselling books is ‘Amcha Bap An Amhi,’ a Marathi book by Dr. Narendra Jadhav, a member of the Indian parliament. The eBook we published was the 21st edition of the book.”
“One more book written by not a famed person at all, performed well as he earned seven to eight times his savings. Moreover, the Marathi book named ‘Vastraharan,’ which is based on the Vastraharan, one of the most successful Marathi plays and we are the only one to have an eBook format of the book.”
“More to the point, I would have loved to publish a Harry Potter book series in Marathi eBook format. But, it’s previously there, published. Also, I would have adored publishing the book 50 Shades of Grey, which is a bold topic for many Indians.”
Khadtare acknowledged that, initially, offering people eBooks for free was a part of their marketing strategy as people were price-conscious and used to hesitate for online transactions. “Now, they have reached across 45 countries and their total number of downloads is more than 155 lakhs. They predominantly publish Marathi books, but few English and Hindi books too,” he told.
On asking if he is looking to publish eBooks in other international languages, Khadtare quoted, “We would rather focus on the Indian languages as the Indian languages have a lot of potential. Besides, we have tried to translate some English literature to Marathi and vice versa, but for now, that is on the edge.”
Advice for the young writers
Advising the young writers, Khadtare revealed, “If you are confident about your writing, get in touch with us and if you are not confident about your writing, still, do not hesitate to contact us. We have a free helpline for authors too. We try our best to help authors and whenever the one is confident about publishing, pay and get published.”
In a chat over his recommendations & a few other points, Mr. Khadtare stated, “People don’t want to just read the books; they want to have a better experience o a bookstore. To the followers, he recommended three books including, ‘Amcha Bap An Amhi by Narendra Jadhav,’ ‘Birad by Ashok Pawar’ and ‘Vastraharan’.”
Speaking about the origin of the name of the website, Mr. Khadtare said, “I was on the railway when this name occurred in my mind and when I got off the train, I googled it and there was no other word like that. Also, it was free from meaning. So, I decided to take it up. Because I believe, if you define it, you limit it. I will never forget that train journey.”
Watch the whole interview here:
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