NBT: 58 Indian languages; 4,000 translations, 37, 000 titles

While its flagship offering, New Delhi World Book Fair, could not be held this year owing to the pandemic, National Book Trust, India is doing all it can to promote the reading habit, Yuvraj Malik, director, NBT, tells PrintWeek

22 Feb 2022 | By PrintWeek Team

NBT has been actively working in the field of promotion of books and reading for the last 60 years

PrintWeek (PW): How has been the impact of the pandemic?
Yuvraj Malik (YM):
Publishing in India faced several challenges in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. However, through adversity comes opportunity. We, at NBT, believe in converting every challenge into an opportunity for learning. During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, NBT was the first publisher in the world to realise the extraordinary psychological, social, economic, and cultural significance of the pandemic for the human society in times to come. So, we came up with a book series titled Corona Studies Series to document and provide relevant reading materials for all age groups. In addition, we are preparing children’s books to let our young readers know about our Corona warriors, along with other story and picture books related to various aspects of Corona to create awareness.

In response to the national crisis of this proportion, we believe that as a national institution, it is our duty to take initiatives within our domain area to provide support in the form of new reading materials. We also take up this situation as a challenge to publish more and more books in all Indian languages. 

PW: In the early stage of the pandemic, NBT started #StayHomeIndiaWithBooks initiatives by uploading PDFs of some of its select and bestselling titles for free. Is the initiative still on?
We had launched the initiative to encourage people to read books while at home during the first lockdown. The 100+ books, in PDF format, could be downloaded from the NBT’s website www.nbtindia.gov.in. Available in different languages, including Hindi, English, Asamiya, Bangla, Gujarati, Malayalam, Odia, Marathi, Kokborok, Mizo, Bodo, Nepali, Tamil, Punjabi, Telugu, Kannada, Urdu, and Sanskrit, the books covered all genres of fiction, biography, popular science, teacher’s handbook and books for children and young adults.

In addition, there were books for everyone by Tagore, Premchand, and books on Mahatma Gandhi — all in all, there were books for everyone in the family to read and enjoy. We discontinued the initiative after the lockdown was lifted.

PW: Last year, the New Delhi World Book Fair appeared in the virtual avatar. Did it help? Are there plans to go virtual this year?
The worldwide restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic led to the New Delhi World Book Fair 2021 being organised as a virtual edition. It was the first virtual book fair in the country. NDWBF 2021 Virtual Edition was a unique experience for visitors and book lovers. With more than 160+ publishers and exhibitors participating from India and 15+ foreign countries, the first-ever book fair in a virtual mode witnessed 2.8 million hits.

The book fair was visited by people from 70 cities across the world. This year, the fair was scheduled in January 2022 in its usual in-person format, at the new International Exhibition Complex at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. However, it has been postponed for a few months keeping in view the latest DDMA guidelines.

Yuvraj Malik, director, NBT

PW: What are the key mandates of NBT, besides organising the book fair? How are you planning to achieve them this year?
NBT is especially involved in the quality production of books in several Indian languages. We have been actively working in the field of promotion of books and reading for the last 60 years. Keeping in mind the quality of content and its wide reach, the Trust publishes affordable books in various genres to cater to all age groups of society. The Trust also works towards promoting reading for which it is involved in organising book fairs and exhibitions across the country. Through its mobile exhibition vans, the books are taken to remote areas and made available to a large section of people.

The Trust is also involved in organising seminars, workshops, and literary events from time to time for the interested readers and creative minds of the nation. The highlight of NBT is the annual New Delhi World Book Fair. It is one of the biggest book fairs in the world. The NBT is a nodal body for the promotion of Indian publishing industry, both in India and abroad. It actively participates in a number of international book fairs across the globe and presents the diversity of the Indian publication industry. 

PW: Not so long ago, NBT was the only source of cross-language translations within India. Now, with mainstream multinational publishers taking up translations in a big way, is NBT missing out?
A well-read mind gives rise to a well-read society. And when we take Indian books and publishing to a different culture on various international platforms, we accept and acknowledge the culture of that specific region, and we permeate the Indian culture there, thereby establishing sustainable collaborations for better cultural and literary exchanges. NBT is the sole publisher in the country that publishes and translates books in more than 55 Indian languages, including tribal languages and dialects as well as books in Braille.

We also have published a number of titles in bilingual format under the bilingual editions series for children as per the guidelines of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, with the objective to create supplementary reading materials for children to help them adapt suitably to the multilingual fabric of the country. We encourage all publishers to reach out to people by publishing books in their mother tongue, as part of NEP 2020 guidelines. 

PW: While NBT books are priced comparatively low, we often hear the complaint that they are not easily available. They are not sold on regular bookstores or eCommerce sites. Any plans to reach out to readers?
Affordable and accessible books are the foundation stones for any endeavour that NBT takes up. Apart from the four NBT regional offices in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, we also have Book Promotion Centres in Kochi, Hyderabad, Cuttack, Agartala, Guwahati, Patna, and Lucknow.

We are also opening BPCs in Dehradun and Bhopal. Besides this, NBT books are also available at prime retail chains like Bahrisons and many other bookstores. One can also find our books at WH Smith stores at domestic and international airport terminals across India. And for the readers who wish to get their hands on the latest titles by NBT from the comfort of their homes, they can do so from the official NBT website nbtindia.gov.in, as well as on Amazon. We recently inaugurated a Gyaan Samvaad Kendra (knowledge communication centre) — the first of its kind public library in the city — at the Raj Niwas in Puducherry.

The Gyaan Samvaad Kendra has a wide range of books in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, English, and French representing the cultural amalgamation of the Union Territory. In addition, NBT also has its presence in hundreds of panchayat libraries across the country.  

PW: NBT has been running a publishing course for the last couple of years. What is the goal of the course? 
National Book Trust, India has been holding the course in Book Publishing since the year 1993. It was held in Delhi as well as in other cities across India. With the pandemic, NBT took up the challenge and started the three-month Online Book Publishing Course, of which three batches have already been successfully completed. The course aims to create a category of professionals that are knowledgeable about all aspects of the publishing industry, right from the inception of a book to its delivery to the reader.

The mandate behind NBT’s Book Publishing Course is to provide a competent workforce to support the knowledge industry of the nation, to create a knowledge-based society and thinking individuals. The publishing industry has an important task to make the younger generation aware of the rich history, traditions, and culture of the nation by producing books and content that is inherently Indian in its focus. Professionals from leading publishing houses and institutions in India provide insights into various aspects of book publishing.

PW: NBT recently granted fellowship to 75 young writers through its PM Yuva Mentorship scheme. Please tell us more about it? 
National Book Trust, India, under the ministry of education, has announced the results of the All-India Contest organised on the theme – National movement of India as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav programmes. As per the scheme, 75 authors were to be selected through this contest for a scholarship-cum-mentorship scheme for the young authors below the age of 30 years. Nearly 16,000 entries in 22 official languages and English were received from across the country.

Out of the 75 selected authors, 38 are males and 37 are females, almost equal. The selected authors will undergo six-months of mentorship, in which they would be provided research and editorial support under the guidance of eminent mentors and the editorial team of National Book Trust, India to develop their book proposals as full-fledged books to be published by the Trust.

The published books will be later translated into other Indian languages. During the mentorship, the selected authors will receive a scholarship of Rs 50,000 per month for a period of six months. Further, a royalty of 10% will be payable to the authors on successful publications of their books. We are also organising a national camp for them.

PW: How to increase the reading habit? This is a real concern in publishing. You have initiated the Padhe Bharat campaign for the same. What is the mission of the campaign and how you plan to implement it?
A 100-day reading campaign, Padhe Bharat (Read India), was launched by the ministry of education. The reading campaign commenced from 1 January and continue till 10 April 2022 and will focus on the need to create an enabling environment in which students read for pleasure and develop their skills through a process that is enjoyable and sustainable and which remains with them for life. This is in alignment with the NEP 2020 which emphasises on the promotion of a joyful reading culture for children by ensuring availability of age-appropriate books for them in their language of choice. 

According to me, learning is a never-ending process. Books are the best medium to increase our knowledge and awareness, and be well-educated and well-aware society. Despite the technological and digital impact, the printed word is still popular among the readers. The rising footfall in NDWBF every year proves this. Our Pustak Parikramas (mobile exhibition vans) continue to be instrumental in making affordable and age-appropriate reading material accessible to readers in all corners of the country. 

Through our Readers’ Clubs, we regularly hold a variety of interactive and interesting activities with students to encourage them to pick up books and inculcate a reading habit in them. NBT also plans to organise more book-related activities, as well as book fairs and exhibitions in the remotest of areas, so as to reach the grassroots and popularise the need to read and be aware in these times. I do believe that one book can change your life.


NBT has up taken up the pandemic as a challenge to publish more and more books in all Indian languages

National Book Trust, India publishes fiction, as well as books on social sciences, medical science and cutting-edge technology for all segments of society and for all age-groups. To our credit, we have published more than 37,000 titles and more than 4,000 translations. Added to our achievements, books are published in 58 Indian languages. We have also published books in six UN languages. 

Hindi titles

  1. Vigyaan Aur Vedant: Ek Tulnatmak Tatha Samanvyaatmak Adhyayan by Shashikant Shukla and Shankar Nene 
  2. Ek Yug Pravartak Bhikshuk Kushak Bakula Rinpoche: Ek Jeevani by Sonam Wangchuk Shakspo
  3. Krantikari Durga Bhabhi by Satyanarayan Sharma
  4. Jallianwala Bagh: 13 April 1919 by Rashmi Kumari
  5. Shabd Sitare by Rajesh Badal 

English title 

  1. Grow with Yoga by Acharya Balkrishna
  2. Deeds of Gallantry: Fifty Years of the 1971 Victory edited by Amlesh Kumar Mishra 
  3. Asthinapuram by RN Joe D’Cruz
  4. Mottainai Grandma by Mariko Shinju

Other top three titles

  1. Rajendra Prasad: Life and Thought by Braja Kumar Pandey
  2. Quest for Swaraj: Historical Journey of a Nationalist Prince by SC Misra
  3. Vedic Mathematics by Vikas Khatri and Leena Keshwani


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