Gorakhpur, UP: The global publishing industry may have failed to hold readers’ interest in hard times, but one publishing house in this town is growing strong by telling and retelling epic stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The epic tales have made Gita Press, one of the world’s largest publishers of Hindu religious texts, supposedly recession-proof, although the slowdown forced rich publishers worldwide into consolidation or downsizing mode.
Sales in Gita Press grew from Rs29.5 crore in 2007-08 to Rs32 crore in 2008-09.
“Even the global economic slowdown hasn’t been able to hit the demand for Gita Press books,” Gita Press trustee Vaijnath Agarwal said.
The two-hundred-employee strong Gita Press is known for publishing and distributing books mainly in Hindi and Sanskrit, in addition to other Indian languages.
Since its inception in 1923, Gita Press has published more than 45.45 crore copies of various books, including 8.10 crore copies of the Bhagwad Gita and 7.5 crore copies of Ram Charit Manas — the rendition of the Ramayan by 16th century poet Tulsidas.
However, Ram Charita Manas has become the best-selling title of the Press with a surge in demand, especially from Non-Resident Indians. It accounts for 35% of total sales, while the Bhagwad Gita 20-25%.
Every year, Ram Charit Manas copies worth Rs3-4 lakh are sent to the US as there is strong demand for them from NRIs, Agarwal said.
“We sell more than 50,000 copies everyday. No publishing house in the world sells these many books even today,” Gita Press Production Manager Lalmani Tiwari said.
The popular magazine ‘Kalyan’ by Gita Press sells 2.30 lakh copies a month. “This figure is exclusive of the sales figures that we have mentioned,” Agarwal added.
Agarwal said sometimes it is difficult to meet demand for the religious books.