Ankit Pahwa is a publishing professional based out of New Delhi. After spending around 3 years in Rupa Publications, Ankit joined Toronto based eReading company Rakuten Kobo Inc. as a Vendor Manager for India. In his current role, he looks after content acquisition, publisher relations and strategic alliances in the territory.
In a conversation with Kabuliwaala Kamal Pruthi, Ankit Pahwa shares his first and foremost passion for film making, the challenges he faced while setting up the digital infrastructure and the importance of conferences like Publishing Next.
Share your own untold story and journey of entering the publishing industry.
It was kind of a blessing in disguise. I studied video production in college and was working as an assistant on whatever shooting gigs would come my way. After a point I decided that I am going to give Delhi a go. As I was waiting for production opportunities, I stumbled upon the Rupa job in TOI and applied for it, thinking I am going to quit in a few months. But, I loved the ‘still’ content industry as I like to call it lovingly, and started enjoying the environment. The whole e wave was then new in publishing and I got to work on a lot of things that the industry was doing for the first time. It’s been around 6 years since I have been on a shooting location but books make me feel that I am better prepared than earlier for whenever I go back.
Your interest lies in Internet for development, mapping Internet ecosystems, understanding the economy of web and new technologies for content management. How do you think is the current state of all these in India? How can it be improved?
We have all heard stories about how India has taken to the internet. There are all sorts of numbers out there. The state, so to say, is good but I think we still lack structures and due to the lack of a well thought of policy framework, some players end up taking unfair advantage, such practices are impacting businesses on the web and every now and then you can hear about violations of Internet rights. I think as we go along, we’ll be able to think better and make inclusive policies. The civil society should play a great role in this discourse and we’ll need more non-profits who can bridge the digital divide and educate people about the internet and associated rights. I will touch upon ecosystems and content management in the conference.
You have been instrumental in setting up digital infrastructure (e-commerce, digital publishing and digital marketing) for RUPA and ALEPH Book Company, how was the experience and what were the challenges?
Perception management and convincing people that this thing is here to stay was the biggest challenge as it was all happening for the first time, not only for us but for all the whole industry. The experience was great and the entry of major online players made it very dynamic. It was an enriching process for me personally and ended up giving a lot of insights (by research and anecdotally) on who the reader is and what larger market are we a part of.
If you were not into publishing industry, what would you be?
Filmmaker. I am still passionate about it.
What two messages would you like to convey through your talks at Publishing Next 2016?
Change is good: the new markets/related technologies have a lot to offer. We should embrace and nurture what we have to make it future ready.
The answer is in the question: Modernity can answer questions that tradition poses.
What is your opinion about events like Publishing Next? What role are they playing?
In my knowledge PN is the only event of its kind. They play a great role in creating a serious discussion around issues which concern the Industry. It has also done a great job of bringing people from different skillsets and backgrounds on a platform which is primarily for publishing and content which has helped improve the dialogue and the general narrative.
PUBLISHING NEXT 2016
Publishing Next is an annual gathering of publishers, authors, editors, translators, librarians, book retailers, printers, technologists, service providers and policymakers from all over India and abroad. The event is organized by Goa-based CinnamonTeal Publishing, since 2011.
Dates: 15th 16th 17th September 2016
Venue: Kochi, Kerala