Are Kashmiri Writers Falling Victim to Unscrupulous Publishers?
By: Peer Mohammad Amir Qureshi
In the Kashmir Valley, a growing cadre of authors is emerging, determined to reignite the waning passion for books. Each day, the region witnesses a captivating spectacle of homegrown writers gracing the pages of newspapers and finding their place on various social media platforms, with a shared aspiration to transform the literary landscape and want to change the paradigm from ‘Kebab to Kitaab.’
Against this backdrop, a critical question arises: Do the promises made to debut authors of the valley materialize when they choose their preferred publishing packages? Does the transformation of words into printed tomes genuinely confer upon them the esteemed title of being ‘publishing-worthy’? Or are they merely pawns in the pursuit of profit for opportunistic publishers?
The publishing industry of India, a vast realm, was valued at over 500 billion Indian rupees in 2019. Projections for 2024 anticipate its continued growth, with an estimated market size of approximately 781 billion Indian rupees. Within this colossal industry, novice writers, brimming with dreams of becoming published authors, often tread in a realm of inexperience. They are unfamiliar with the intricate workings of this sector and, at times, fall prey to deceptive practices.
As Kashmiri authors seek to breathe new life into the literary landscape, the issue of transparency and fairness in publishing remains a pressing concern. As the literary passion of these writers continues to shine, it is essential for them to navigate the complex pathways of the publishing industry with caution, to avoid becoming victims of unscrupulous publishers.The authors remain oblivious to the extent of their literary works’ dissemination; while promised full royalties before publication, they find themselves shrouded in ignorance once their books grace the shelves. In my personal estimation, not all works merit publication, and those emanating from Kashmiri publishing houses are riddled with a surfeit of errors. In the world of literature, there exists no latitude for post-publication rectifications, rendering it evident that many books, though their covers may be enticing, harbor content unfit for the literary stage.The onus for this oversight squarely rests upon the shoulders of the editors. I often ponder who, if anyone, has undertaken the arduous task of proofreading these tomes. Publishers ought to enlist the services of adept editors, individuals endowed with comprehensive knowledge. The task of editing transcends the capabilities of a single individual; it necessitates a collaborative effort, a cadre of skilled editors working in tandem.
I hold no bias against any particular publishing house or author, but it is evident that the publication of subpar content, driven solely by profit, detrimentally affects the literary landscape. This practice not only squanders the readers’ resources but also diminishes the appetite of avid readers for works by Kashmiri authors. It appears to be a significant contributing factor to the limited success of many Kashmiri writers in the market.
I earnestly implore reviewers, critics, and newspaper editors to conduct honest and impartial assessments of books. It is of utmost importance for both print and social media editors to scrutinize whether a book or author is truly deserving of featuring. Editors within the Kashmiri publishing industry must also exercise due diligence by assessing manuscripts, detecting plagiarism, and discerning the presence of artificial intelligence-generated works.
I fervently anticipate the emergence of an era where bestselling books by Kashmiri authors will rekindle the literary landscape of Kashmir. I genuinely hope that my words do not unintentionally offend anyone’s sentiments, as they are rooted in a profound aspiration for the literary revival of this enchanting region.
(The author is a columnist based in Ganderbal. He tweets @peermohdamir and can be reached at [email protected])
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.