Books from a small society … and the problem of "not selling”

Books published in Goa don’t sell. That seems to be the lament of those in the trade — specially writers and publishers. Or, some of them at least.

If we keep repeating this argument often enough, we might soon start believing that it’s true.

Miguel Braganza, a columnist for GT, commented recently: “We have few bookshops in Goa that let you browse through books before you buy one. Broadways at St. Inez, The Reading Habit at Campal and Golden Heart Emporium at Margao are the exceptions rather than the rule. Book exhibitions are still a treat in Goa.” Maybe one could add Varsha’s too.

Braganza pointed to some recent alumni publications — of Mapusa-based schools and a college — and said these gave “different perspectives of school and boarding life in Goa from 1946 (the Mocidade Portuguesa days) to the 1990s (Boy Scout camps and NCC days) that any person will enjoy reading.”

But he lamented that nobody seemed to be buying these. Even if books were being sold, was Goa reading them, he suggested?

Prominent never-say-die writer from Goa based in the US Victor Rangel-Ribeiro (vrangelrib@yahoo.com) joined the online-debate: “I agree that, with a few exceptions, even highly literate Goans do not count among the world’s great book buyers. That said, the books you cited might sell better if they are placed in more outlets than just one.”

George Pinto, a San Jose-based supporter of many a Goan cause, came up with another perspective: “Inspite of quality work, it seems to me three problems account for poor book sales: Goan apathy. Under appreciation of the humanities, arts, literature in the Goan community. No distributions network in the Goan Diaspora.”He added: “I wonder how this can be solved.”

There are other problems too, one would argue. Goa-related books are hardly visible when published. They don’t get the reviews they deserve, in most of the local or outstation media. The market is small and scattered over a huge geographical area (the Diaspora could be a vital part of that market too, but reaching it can be tough).

Overall, the reading habit needs to be encouraged in Goa; and we have a long way to go here. But, then, we here too should be reporting a spurt in reading (like much of the rest of India, take the case of Hindi newspapers in north India) if Goa’s claims about the growth in literacy in recent years tally with reality. But, greater visibility for the books is crucial. How will people buy one if they don’t even know it exists, or where they can pick it up from? Incidentally, one believes that Goa books should also become more affordable; nobody will pick up a copy at whatever price just because it relates to Goa.

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About fredericknoronha

Alt.Publishing. Journalism. Books. Cyberspace. Networking.

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