British Trade Publishing and India in the 21st Century: Cartelisation and its Postcolonial Impact
Sonali Misra (she/her) is a recipient of the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities studentship. Her research, ‘British Publishing and India in the 21st Century: Cartelisation and its Impact on Sociocultural Identity’, was birthed from her experience of working in the Indian publishing industry at Scholastic and Hachette in editorial and product (sales) roles. In her research, Sonali examines the role that Commonwealth rights and multinationalisation play in the cartelisation of English-language trade publishing. Her primary research method is semi-structured interviews with elite participants in British and Indian publishing, such as CEOs/MDs, Sales Directors and Publishers at Big-5 and smaller independent firms, along with literary agents.
At the SGSAH showcase, Sonali shared her research in an interactive multimedia format on a computer, one that is accessible to people outwith the fields of book publishing and postcolonialism. The landing screen directed attendees to four sections: ‘Introduction’, ‘Reader’, ‘Writer’, and ‘Publisher’. On pressing any of these four buttons, a scrolling screen of text appeared with Sonali’s voice reading it aloud over the available pair of headphones. The texts comprise the autoethnographic approach of her research through which she shares her personal experiences as a reader, writer and publisher in the Indian literary and publishing landscape.
To complement the different segments of the presentation, Sonali also displayed a few printed posters: a world map showing the split/cartelisation of the Anglophone world between US and UK publishers due to territorial rights; two photographs Sonali took of book piracy in Delhi and Gurgaon in India; a graph showing the split in the revenue generated by the sale of the local Indian publishing list and the foreign publishing list at five Indian subsidiaries of multinational publishers; and a list of her research interviewees.
Sonali is the Co-founder of The Selkie Publications CIC, which promotes and publishes minoritised voices, and led the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Scotland for two years as its Co-chair. She is the author of a nonfiction book (21 Fantastic Failures, 2020) and short stories and personal essays that have appeared in Scottish, Canadian and Indian anthologies. Her commissioned personal essay was added to The National Library of Scotland’s archives and shortlisted for the Anne Brown Prize in 2021. In 2022, she was chosen for Gothenburg’s UNESCO City of Literature writing residency and scholarship, and in 2023 she won the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Award. You can learn more about her work on her website.