• Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Interview with Ajay Mago Publisher, OM Books International

Explore insights from Ajay Mago, Publisher at OM Books International. Discover industry trends, entrepreneurship tips, and more.
on Apr 20, 2024
Interview with Ajay Mago Publisher, OM Books International | Frontlist

Armed with an MBA from UCLA and a home-induced flair for the book trade, Ajay Mago, Publisher, Om Books International, started the Publishing Division of an over-50-year-old book retailing outfit, Om Book Shop, in 1997, alongside a strategically planned expansion on the retail front. Ajay was instrumental in shaping Om Books International, which is today known for its wide range of books that it publishes with the finest authors from India and abroad. Due to his extraordinary business skills, OBI has been able to establish an international distribution network in the UK, the US, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, France, and Spain. While under his guidance, the retail venture, Om Book Shop, has made its presence felt in Delhi, Gurgaon, NOIDA, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, with other innovative trade-related moves on the anvil, Ajay wishes to further accelerate the growth and expand the retail venture all across.

Frontlist: Given your extensive experience in both publishing and retail, what role do you believe bookstores play in promoting literacy and fostering a love for reading in today's society? How does Om Book Shop contribute to this mission, particularly in regions where access to books may be limited?

Ajay: Bookstores play a crucial role in promoting literacy and fostering a love for reading by serving as community hubs where individuals can discover new ideas, explore diverse cultures, and engage with stories that inspire and educate. They offer a tactile experience that online platforms cannot replicate, allowing customers to browse, touch, and feel the books before making a purchase. This sensory experience can ignite a passion for reading, particularly in young readers who are just beginning their literary journey.

Om Book Shop contributes to this mission by creating an inviting and inclusive space for readers of all ages and backgrounds. Our stores are carefully curated to offer a wide range of titles, from bestsellers to niche genres, ensuring that there is something for everyone. We also host events such as book signings, readings, and workshops, which provide opportunities for readers to connect with authors and engage with the literary community.

In regions where access to books may be limited, we strive to bridge the gap by making literature more accessible. We work with schools and libraries to organize book fairs, helping to build collections and promote reading in underserved areas. Additionally, our online presence (www.ombooks.com) allows us to reach customers in remote locations, ensuring that they have access to a diverse selection of books.

Frontlist: In your opinion, how has the digital revolution impacted the book industry, particularly in terms of copyright enforcement and combating piracy? What measures has Om Books International taken to adapt to these changes and protect the rights of authors in the digital realm?

Ajay: The digital revolution has significantly impacted the book industry, bringing both opportunities and challenges. One of the major challenges is copyright enforcement and combating piracy. With the ease of digital distribution, it's become easier for pirated copies of books to circulate, undermining the rights of authors and publishers.

Om Books International has taken several measures to adapt to these changes and protect the rights of authors in the digital realm. Firstly, we ensure that all our digital content is encrypted and securely distributed through trusted platforms. This reduces the risk of unauthorized copying and distribution.

We also actively monitor the Internet for illegal copies of our books and take legal action when necessary to remove pirated content. Educating authors and readers about the importance of copyright and the impact of piracy on the industry is another important step we've taken.

In terms of adapting to the digital revolution, Om Books International has embraced e-books and digital publishing. We offer a wide range of our titles in digital format, making them accessible to a broader audience while ensuring that they are distributed securely.

Frontlist: As a pioneer in the publishing industry, how do you see the future of copyright evolving, especially with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain entering the landscape? What potential opportunities and challenges do these advancements pose for authors and publishers?

Ajay: The future of copyright in the publishing industry is likely to be significantly influenced by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. These advancements offer both opportunities and challenges for authors and publishers.

One potential opportunity is the use of blockchain technology to create more transparent and secure systems for managing copyrights and royalties. Blockchain can provide an immutable record of ownership and licensing agreements, making it easier to track and enforce copyrights. This could lead to more efficient royalty distribution and reduce the likelihood of disputes.

AI also presents opportunities for the publishing industry. It can be used to analyze reading trends and preferences, enabling publishers to tailor their offerings more effectively. Additionally, AI can assist in content creation, editing, and marketing, streamlining various aspects of the publishing process.

However, these technologies also pose challenges. For example, AI-generated content raises questions about authorship and copyright ownership. Determining the rights to works created by or with the assistance of AI is a complex issue that will need to be addressed.

Moreover, the rapid pace of technological change can make it difficult for copyright laws to keep up, leading to potential legal uncertainties. Ensuring that authors' rights are protected in a digital and technologically advanced landscape will require ongoing adaptation and revision of copyright laws and policies.

Frontlist: As someone deeply involved in both publishing and retail, you have a unique perspective on the evolving relationship between publishers and booksellers. How do you see this relationship evolving in the future, and what steps has Om Books International taken to foster strong partnerships with retail outlets?

Ajay: The relationship between publishers and booksellers is evolving, particularly with the rise of digital technology and changing consumer behavior. In the future, this relationship is likely to become even more collaborative, with a focus on shared goals and mutual benefits.

Publishers and booksellers will need to work closely together to navigate the challenges of the digital landscape, such as competing with online retailers and adapting to new consumer preferences. This collaboration might involve joint marketing efforts, shared data insights, and coordinated events to drive sales and engage readers.

Om Books International has taken several steps to foster strong partnerships with retail outlets. We maintain open communication with our retail partners, ensuring that they are informed about upcoming releases and any promotional activities. We also work together on events like book signings and launches to create excitement and attract customers to their stores.

Additionally, we provide retailers with marketing materials and support to help them effectively promote our titles. We also listen to feedback from booksellers, as they are often the ones interacting directly with customers, and use this feedback to inform our publishing and marketing strategies.

By building strong relationships with retailers, we aim to create a win-win situation where both publishers and booksellers can thrive in a changing industry.

Frontlist: Om Books International has published a wide range of titles with authors from India and abroad. Can you share some insights into the editorial process at OBI, from acquiring manuscripts to the final publication? How do you ensure that each book aligns with the company's vision and resonates with its target audience?

Ajay: The editorial process is comprehensive and tailored to ensure that each book aligns with the company's vision and resonates with its target audience.

The process begins with the acquisition of manuscripts. This can happen through direct submissions from authors, literary agents, or through scouting for promising works. We look for manuscripts that align with our publishing goals and have the potential to engage and captivate our target audience.

Once a manuscript is acquired, it undergoes an initial editorial assessment. This involves evaluating the content for its quality, relevance, and market potential. We consider factors such as the uniqueness of the story, the writing style, and the potential for reader engagement.

If the manuscript is deemed a good fit for OBI, we move forward with contract negotiations with the author or their agent. This includes discussing terms such as royalties, rights, and publication timelines.

After the contract is signed, the manuscript enters the editorial development phase. This involves working closely with the author to refine and polish the content.

Parallel to the editorial development, the design team works on the book's cover and interior layout. The production team oversees the printing and manufacturing process, ensuring that the physical book meets OBI's quality standards.

As the book nears completion, the marketing team develops a strategy to promote the book. This includes creating promotional materials, planning launch events, and coordinating with retailers for distribution. The sales team works on getting the book into bookstores and online platforms.

Once the book is published, the focus shifts to sales and ongoing marketing efforts. We monitor the book's performance in the market and continue to support it through various channels.

Frontlist: Given your extensive experience in the industry, what advice would you give to aspiring publishers and entrepreneurs looking to enter the world of publishing? What are some key lessons you've learned throughout your career that you believe are essential for success in this field?

Ajay: Entering the world of publishing can be both exciting and challenging. Knowing your target audience is crucial in publishing. Understand their preferences, reading habits, and what kind of content resonates with them. This will help you in selecting and marketing your titles effectively.

The quality of your content is what will set you apart in the industry. Invest in a good editorial team and don't compromise on the quality of your books. A well-edited and well-designed book is more likely to succeed in the market.

Develop relationships with authors, literary agents, booksellers, and other industry professionals. These connections can provide valuable opportunities and support as you grow your business.

The publishing industry is constantly evolving with new technologies. Embrace digital publishing, e-books, and online marketing to reach a wider audience and stay competitive.

The publishing landscape is ever-changing, so it's important to be adaptable. Be open to new ideas, trends, and business models. Flexibility will allow you to navigate the industry's ups and downs more effectively.

Rejection is a part of the publishing process, whether it's from authors, agents, or the market. Don't be discouraged by it. Instead, learn from each experience and use it to improve your future endeavors.

Publishing is a labor of love. Stay passionate about books and storytelling. This passion will drive you to overcome challenges and continue striving for success in the industry.

Attend industry events, join publishing associations, and participate in online forums. Networking with peers and staying informed about industry trends and best practices is crucial for your growth and success.

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