Westland Books to shut down

Amazon's plans leave Indian publishing industry shocked

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Westland
Author and historian Manu S Pillai, whose The Courtesan, the Mahatma, and the Italian Brahmin was published by Westland's imprint Context, shared via Twitter, “Rotten news @karthikavk and the team have run a great publishing house with a strong list of books. It has been a pleasure to work with Westland. Deeply troubling that a successful venture can be shut down this way from above, for god knows what reasons.” Photo Amazon

Westland Books, an Indian publishing house Amazon acquired five years ago, is all set to call it quits from 31 March 2022, according to sources. The publishing house was founded in 1962, and was previously known to readers as East West Books. Amazon acquired Westland Books from the Tatas five years back in 2017.

Westland is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon Eurasia Holdings SARL and launched its own literary fiction publishing arm in 2018, known as Context. Other imprints included Tranquebar and Eka for regional Indian vernacular languages. Westand was considered to be one of the large-scale English publishing houses in the country and was a leading publisher of fiction as well as non-fiction titles. According to recent market estimates, Westland Books had a turnover of around Rs 30 crore annually.

Westland books published many renowned authors including Amish Tripathi, Devdutt Pattanaik, Rujuta Diwekar, Preeti Shenoy, Chetan Bhagat, Rashmi Bansal, among other well-known as well as debutant writers. It was doing well in numerous genres including history, food, spirituality, travel, health, self-help, and biographies.

Many authors, literary enthusiasts, and book lovers took to Twitter to share their disappointment regarding this heartbreaking news.

Journalist and author with Westland Books Nidheesh MK tweeted, “Westland was my publisher. I stand to lose heavily by their closure. But it’s not that what is worrying me. It’s the loss for me as a reader. They gave us some of the sharpest non-fiction books in recent times. Until someone at Amazon got this weird idea that they should be profitable.”

Kavitha Rao, author of Lady Doctors: The Untold Stories of India’s First Women in Medicine published by Westland Books shared her disappointment through a tweet, “Westland is my publisher and did so much for me, taking a chance on a non-celeb author. The editors are the best in India and they brought out the best and most hard-hitting non-fiction you will see on the shelves.”

Author and historian Manu S Pillai, whose The Courtesan, the Mahatma, and the Italian Brahmin was published by Westland’s imprint Context, shared via Twitter, “Rotten news @karthikavk and the team have run a great publishing house with a strong list of books. It has been a pleasure to work with Westland. Deeply troubling that a successful venture can be shut down this way from above, for god knows what reasons.”

The closure of a major publishing house has not occurred in the Indian publishing industry in the past many years. It has not yet been established as to what would be the future of the catalog of the publisher’s books and how the literary rights would be transferred to authors.

Amazon or Westland have not issued any official confirmation as yet. However, many authors, as well as employees, confirmed the news with the press.

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