(there is a missing that I need to cut and paste from Pages, more soon)
First day of this conference gave me a sense of the ferment, vitality, and challenges for libraries, school libraries in particular, and thus author and publishers, here in India. The big issue is the split between the worlds of well-funded private schools and poorly funded and rigid public schools, especially in rural India. One wonderful publisher here is a not-for-profit group whose goal is to bring reading materials to the 300 million kids who currently have none, and cannot afford to pay almost anything. That company figured out that it a book was too long and expensive, so they create folded sheets on laminated stock containing very short illustrated stories in ever more local Indian languages and dialects. These are cheap enough and easy enough to use that they may indeed reach many of those millions.
We met another kind of innovator here, a man who worked in IT in Silicon Valley in the boom days, sold his company, and has now started a firm that open lively, well run libraries in India, but with a small monthly fee for patrons. In areas like Bangalore, where he is based, the need for youth service libraries is rising far faster than the government’s will or a ility to respond, so he is using this for-profit model.
It is easy to see YA and children’s books growing here — new authors, new books, more publishers. But there are no review journals, not even seasonal lists of who is publishing what, no annual library conferences, thus no national prizes or award lists.
All around us we see change, growth, need, and thus opportunity — the wild, wild, east.