Through the ages, books have been the medium of expression for the collective thought of a people or region. In this context, the book trade might be regarded as both progenitor and guardian of culture. Publishing in India started in the mid-sixteenth century. For a long time its scope was limited to vernacular works. Organization to its current status came only after Independence.
At present, India ranks tenth in the world book trade, and is the prime sourcing point for academic literature on South Asia. Though not as large as other sectors, growth in this field has been impressive. Between 1985 and 1991 alone, 3,52,195 titles were published. India also exports books, periodicals and journals to over eighty countries. Earnings from these sales have risen from a modest Rs 60 lakhs in 1965-66, to approximately Rs 65 crores today.
Publishing is an industry not a profession. The publisher's responsibility involves the extension of author's manuscript into a finished book and its delivery to the reader. This necessarily includes the organization of its production, distribution and promotion. Successful publishing therefore demands business acumen and an interest in marketing as much as it does creativity and literary effort.
Currently, far more men than women head publishing houses. A number of women however are now reaching top positions. Many women have done well in `senior middle' positions in both editorial and marketing spheres. Among copy editors and editorial assistants, women greatly outnumber men.
So far, publishing has been generally viewed as a tradition-bound area, where careers are slow to take off. This staid, conventional image is now beginning to change. The entry of bright, young professionals into the field has infused it with a new optimism putting into action their fresh ideas and shrewd business sense, to the overall benefit of the industry.