Kolkata: After 80 years as a book retailer in Kolkata and six book stores in the country, Oxford Book Store, a division of the Apeejay Surendra Group, is set to foray into publishing. The company, which will announce plans in two months, says it is in negotiations with authors and in advanced discussions with publishing companies to launch a joint initiative for publishing.
The Apeejay Group has a printing press and has published three books in the last two years, says Rajeev Chowdhury, chief executive officer for the chain.
Buoyed by the success of the titles, mostly coffee-table books, the company plans to develop niche book titles that cater to women and children for now.
It would not say how much it would spend towards this new line of business.
Oxford Book Stores will also launch stores using franchisees. It is looking to add stores in as many as 30 cities this year and, by the end of the month, it will open five such stores in Shillong, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Patna.
The company is expecting franchises would contribute to 50% of the company’s total turnover in two years. Currently, it has no franchisee.
The Oxford Book Store currently operates in metro cities. It also operates Cha Bar—a tea shop within its premises.
The larger book stores run by the franchisees will have the tea shops.
With foreign publishers like Penguin and Harper Collins already present in India, and several others eyeing this space, publishers expect a fight for content.
“The entry of foreign publishers will not be a threat as it would force publishers to maintain a certain standard in printing and marketing of the book,” says Kapish Mehra, publisher Rupa & Co., a local publisher. The biggest challenge before new entrants is that of sourcing the best writing talent, he says.
The book–publishing industry has seen a boom in recent times with a growing demand for writers whose stories are based in the region, driven by the popularity of authors such as Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai.