For many in the industry, becoming a publisher of Penguin Random House would be a lifelong goal. But Chiki Sarkar, who became publisher of Penguin Random House India in 2013, walked away from a major publishing career for the uncertainty of her new publishing start-up, Juggernaut Books. PW caught with Sarkar at the London Book Fair, just days ahead of Juggernaut’s launch, to discuss her decision.
You had a successful career with Penguin Random House in India, why walk away for a start-up?
I wish I could tell you there was some great drama, but there wasn’t. I think I was just impatient, and I really wanted to try something new. Penguin Random House is a fantastic house. They have great books, and I loved it there. But it’s very hard to really change the game unless you’re outside it.
Why does the publishing game need to change in India?
Nothing works in India. Our distributors don’t pay us, or take a long time to pay us, and our retail is in shambles. We have very, very few good bookshops in the country. An average book in India, a successful book, sells 3,000 copies. I don’t have prizes that help book sales. I don’t have book clubs, or shows on TV. I don’t have Oprah telling everyone to read a book. So, I just thought there has to be another way.
Read the full conversation here