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10,000 Punjabi authors, but few takers for their books 

Chandigarh, December 16

There are more than 10,000 Punjabi writers, but very few readers.

This year’s Sahitya Akademi Award-winning book “Kone da Suraj” witnessed sale of just 150 copies in five years.

The situation is not much different when it comes to other Sahitya Akademi Award winning writers of the past two decades.

A conversation with publishers and writers reveals that the largest buyers of Punjabi books are the authors themselves.

For instance, Chandigarh-based publisher Unistar published just 300 copies of Mohanjit’s book “Kone da Suraj” in 2013. Almost half of the copies were bought by the author himself — most of them went as free gift — and the rest of them were sold by the publisher. 

Accepting that there are not many readers of Punjabi poetry, Mohanjit also blames the lack of enthusiasm shown by the publishers in promoting books. “Even publishers are not keen to publish Punjabi poetry. It is the poets who self finance their books normally,” he added.

Harish Jain of Unistar Books, who has published a majority of Sahitya Akademi Award winning books, says, “There is hardly any award-winning author who can boast that their particular book witnessed a sale of over 100 copies in a year. In Punjabi literature, three factors determine a book’s sale: Power of writing, which is hardly seen these days; prescription of the book in syllabus and if a group promotes the author (which is true about some Leftist authors).”

He cites an example of Punjabi’s prominent novelist Gurdial Singh, whose “Anhey Ghore Da Daan” was published in 1983 and priced at just Rs 4. “Though the price was as low as Rs 4, I could sell just 500 of 3,000 copies in 15 years. Later 2,500 copies went to scrap,” he added. However, once it became the subject of an award-winning film, people bought it for even Rs 150.

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