Why Arundhati Roy’s new novel will be a ‘heavy’ book
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From all accounts, Arundhati Roy is a hands-on author, intimately involved in most of the production stages of her book—not just the editorial, as one would expect of writers. At the Penguin Random House office in Delhi, she was present at most meetings with the publisher’s in-house team of eight people involved in production, as also with their designers. “She is very passionate about design and was actively involved in shaping the visual personality of the book,” says Gunjan Ahlawat, head, creative, at the publishing house.
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While the team works closely with any author particular about design and paper specifications, Roy has been one of the most involved, says Ajay Kumar Joshi, the associate vice-president, production, Penguin Random House India.
Take the paper, for instance. While Penguin Random House used uncoated matte paper for the cover of The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness, they went for a “natural shade” of Maplitho paper, imported from Sweden, for the pages. This specific type of paper (Maplitho) is also heavier than the high-bulk variety that the publishing house uses for practically all its other books. “High-bulk paper is lighter, making your book feel lighter, while Maplitho, despite being lower in GSM (grammage per sq.m) is heavier,” says Joshi. Why then use the heavier variety? “That’s what Arundhati prefers,” he says simply, adding that she is “one of (their) most prestigious authors”.
Over the two decades since its publication, her first novel The God Of Small Things has seen many sub-par prints, especially on online orders. When asked how they plan to sustain the product quality and paper supply of the new book, which is one of their biggest releases, Joshi says the publishing house maintains international standards and quality checks. If there are bad prints of Roy’s older books, he blames “99.99% of it (on) piracy”.“With the rise of e-commerce platforms, there are also many retailers that crop up,” he explains, adding that you usually can’t keep track of them (to take action) because a lot of them pop up again under new names.