In a conversation with Kabuliwaala Kamal Pruthi, Sesh Seshadari reveals how publishing for him is a family business, the aspects of publishing which attract him the most, how he intends to pass on the legacy to the younger generation of publishers, the priorities of Lonely Planet for this year et al.
Share your own untold story and journey into the publishing industry.
It is a whole family story. My grandfather, father, wife & son are all in the same publishing industry and have a combined contribution of 115+ years in this space! The journey for me continues to be one of passion while the industry is moving towards to bottom line. Hence I am not surprised at the topic given to me at Publishing Next, i.e. “Where to Invest Next”.
You were with Oxford University Press for more than 25 years, and credit most of your publishing knowledge to OUP. Your comments on this.
It’s a great institution and has been standing tall for over 500 years.
In India it began at 1912. Fantastic training ground to learn about the industry as well as values. I am very pleased that I was part of the Global celebration of 500 years and the India celebration of 75 and 100 years.
How was your transition from academic publishing to travel publishing?
I guess this happened when I moved away from a corporate way of doing things. When you become a consultant there are good opportunities that come your way. I have been associated with Lonely Planet from October 2009 and it is a great place to learn about content via technology.
What aspect of publishing do you enjoy the most?
For me it is now about content development, content delivery and more important content consumption. I am carefully not using the term “ecosystems” which is widely used without context.
Content is what I enjoy irrespective of the space in which it operates.
If you were not a publisher, what would you be? Why?
I have spoken a lot on this before. The DNA is publishing; hence I am not sure what else I can do. To help you, I could say a cricket umpire.
How do you intend to pass on this vast legacy and knowledge of the publishing industry to the younger generation of publishers?
I have taken on the role of being a mentor and I do have many one to one meetings with the younger generation who would like to be part of this industry. I am a great believer of dissemination of knowledge and am happy to take further steps to get this going.
What two messages would you like to convey through your talks at Publishing Next 2016?
Do not isolate print and digital and bring in a new social and economic divide. And accept the reality that print books are here to stay.
What are the 2 topmost priorities and vision of Lonely Planet in 2016-2017?
To further help the traveler by integrating content and technology. Grow the list of titles under the imprint Lonely Planet Kids.
What are the two foremost challenges faced by Lonely Planet?
Today’s market no longer talks about challenges. It talks about disruptive innovation. It will be interesting to see how this space gets consolidated and understand the traveler’s needs. Having said that, the traveler’s needs will keep shifting/changing.
What is your opinion about events like Publishing Next?
These events enable us to hear different perspectives, learn about new initiatives, and hear about what people with hands on experience do.
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