Interview With Trisha De Niyogi- COO & Director, Niyogi Books
on Mar 04, 2022
Trisha De Niyogi is the Chief Operating Officer and Director at Niyogi Books, an independent publishing house based in New Delhi. She began her career in publishing with SAGE Publications and has come a long way since then. She was a fellow at the Istanbul Fellowship Program 2020. She is an advisor to multiple organisations, including the heritage and education organisation, Heritageshaala, an initiative for promoting Indian Literature, Purple Pencil Project, and the Diversity and Inclusion platform, Belongg. She is trained in Bharatnatyam, plays piano, and practices Krav Maga. She holds degrees in Mathematics, Economics, and Business Administration.
Frontlist: The idea of giving significance to visuals as much as to the content of the book is very disparate from other publishing houses. As most of the publishers only pay heed to the content. What is the story behind this idea?
Trisha: ‘What is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’
As children, we might have all read Alice in Wonderland. Alice’s reference to the practical significance of images along with the text implies that human communication is multi-modal. Hence, when we started publishing in 2005, we wanted to stress this multi-modal communication through books. We have published books across a wide range of genres, including art, architecture, culture, history, heritage, linguistics, biographies, and more. We follow the international standards of book publishing and designing, and as I often quote, ‘The true art of book-making can be seen in these illustrated books.’
Last year, in 2021, we went a step further and experimented with including audio-visual elements in our books. In the title, Voices from the Lost Horizon: Stories and Songs from the Great Andamanese, we have embedded audio-visual elements through QR codes to amplify the impact it might have on the readers.
Frontlist: Gradually day after day, women are also amping up their journey in the publishing industry. What would you like to say about this context?
Trisha: Well, it is music to my ears. With more and more women in leadership roles in publishing, I sincerely feel Diversity and Inclusion in this industry is far better achieved than in many other industries. But, even though we have more women in publishing, they seem to be significantly concentrated in departments like editorial, marketing, and administration. We still strive for better representation in the other departments of publishing too. There is still a long way to go.
Frontlist: Everyone has this notion in the back of their minds that how a woman can prove herself in the male-dominated industry. Kindly share your thoughts on this?
Trisha: A woman needs to assert herself not only in a male-dominated industry but also in a patriarchal society. It is true even a privileged woman like me has to face slurs like ‘you belong in the kitchen’ because of my gender. But, it is up to a woman how we choose to react to it. In any situation, whether it is subtle or not-so-subtle, a woman needs to remain unperturbed, at the very least, if not motivated to accomplish her dreams or goals.
Work Hard! Be Strong! Be Assertive!
Frontlist: People are very bewitched with westernization. Do you think Niyogi Books has the potential to encourage people to learn more about the human values, beliefs, and history of India?
Trisha: I don’t think a single person has enough power to bring change in the world. As Rabindranath Tagore said, “Ekla Chalo Re”, you start the movement. However, at the same time, we should know how to achieve momentum. We have to have like-minded people coming together. Therefore, through Niyogi Books, we intend to bring like-minded people together, and this could be our contribution to encourage Indian Literature, Art, and Aesthetics. It is ironic that when people start appreciating something Indian from abroad. We start taking it into consideration more gravely. It invariably happens this way. I’ve also seen that young readers gravitate more towards Western and English Literature. We, Niyogi Books, are trying to spur interest in Indian Literature. We are translating Indian Heritage Books into the English Language from different Indian languages. Consequently, it would be more accessible to Indian Readers. At the same time, we are translating foreign literature into indigenous languages. Hindi, Bangla, and other languages can help to foster more interest in Indian Literature and History.
This can be done merely by Niyogi Books. We need to show solidarity in the Indian Publishing Industry.
Books can not be published in isolation. We need to layout harmony. We’re very grateful to see that a lot of collaborations are happening in the publishing community. It’s not a question about ‘What Niyogi Books do?’. It’s about what the entire publishing industry should or can do.
Frontlist: How come Niyogi Books predominately represents the cultural heritage of India in their publications?
Trisha: Since we specialise in illustrated books, it is quite natural that the subjects we chose to work with highlighted the tangible heritage of India. When we are working with the arts, say paintings, it is very difficult to understand a painting without actually having it in front of us.
Also, having a background in the Arts, I am personally invested in the cultural heritage of India.
Frontlist: How did Niyogi Books start the ‘Bahuvachan – the Hindi Imprint’?
Trisha: Since we have been working with translations from several Indian languages (to English) for a while now, along with the fact that we specialise in illustrated books, it was only natural for us to get into illustrated books in Hindi. Hindi is the first choice for communication in around 12 states, mostly in Northern and Central India. Located in Delhi, we are also closer to the Hindi-speaking and reading belt, and hence, it was natural for us to expand publishing in Hindi. Moreover, there was a birth of illustrated books in Hindi, which also gave us a further impetus to enter into the market.
Further, with the improvement in technology – not just in digital outreach but also internal programming, publishing in Hindi seemed a little easier than in the past.