Last year when author turned entrepreneur Faheem Bhat decided to start a publishing house in Kashmir the challenges looked enormous and prospects gloomy. Though the market is virgin, yet working in a place like Kashmir was full of obstacles. "There were host of issues ranging from lack of good infrastructure including quality printing press to lack of even a decent readership," said Faheem Bhat 20. "But we were prepared for the challenge and thus Lieper Publication was born."
Barely months into the business, Lieper Publications hit thetrajectory of growth that no other publishing house has seen in Kashmir inrecent times. With huge social media presence and intelligent promotion ofbooks appealing the younger generation, Lieper got the knack of the market.Authors started pouring in with their manuscripts and the end product haddecent sales too.
The unique thing about this self publishing house turned outto be its flexible packages, which it offers the authors. In a traditionalpublishing house, it is the publisher who pays the author for the book, but ina self publishing house, it is the author who pays to get his book published.
"We never sweet talk with authors. We have certain packagesfrom lowest averaging Rs 16000 to highest which we offer to authors. The choosewhatever they wish and we give equal commitment to every package," said FaheemCEO of Lieper Publication. "The royalty to authors is 100 percent. If an authorwitnesses sale of 1 lakh copies, he or she will earn equal amount. Everythingis transparent." Some of the authors like Dr Henana Barjes and Shuja Tasleemhave seen good revenue from their books, thanks to the royalty model.
With packages that suit even a person from a lower middleclass income group, the otherwise shy and poor authors got a boost ofconfidence. An author from Peer Panchal region came all the way to his officerecently just to sign agreement for a book and left. Similarly another persondoing menial jobs saved the amount and went on to publish his dream book. "Wehave so many stories to tell. Every author is a story," said Faheem.
After the stupendous success, which saw almost one bookrelease every week, the publishing house changed it tagline from "We turnwriters into Author's" into "Kashmir's first and fast growing self publishinghouse". It happened just in nine months. At present they have published 33books.
Most of the books are fiction followed by books in othergenre. Though English is dominant language in majority of books, but the househas also published books in Urdu and a book in Kashmiri is in pipeline.
"One of the biggest challenge of working in Kashmir is thelack of readers. If you ask me I would say that we have readership rate of just8 percent. We may have literacy rate higher than that but people don't read. Ofthe 8 percent majority are urdu readers and 3 percent read western literature.Now that leaves us with small space to work with," said Faheem. "So there aretwo ways either we have to work in that narrow space or try to expand thatspace. We are trying on both fronts."