The behemoth publishing house, Penguin, has expanded its footprint in India with a new subdivision, Inked, which is meant for young adults. This one is separate from Puffin, the group’s children's imprint. Their debut offering comprises a mix of books by Indian and international authors, including Cracked by Eliza Crowe, a story about a half-demon girl;Seventeen and Done: You Bet! by Vibha Batra; a teen romance and Karmaby Cathy Ostlere, written in verse. Batra’s book is a breezy read and reminiscent of high school books such as the Sweet Valley High series, and Crowe’s book follows the Twilight vampire books phenomena. Ostelere’s book is a riveting read, but feels a bit archaic. In the future, Inked plans to release books by blogger and writer Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, author Ranjit Lal, Shiv Ramdas, who has worked in radio previously, and Unmukt Chand, the captain of India’s under-19 cricket team. In an email interview with Time Out, Ameya Nagarajan, the assistant commissioning editor of Penguin Books India and the editor of Inked, shared their plans for the near future.
Why do you think the Young Adult (YA) category is now seeing a spurt of growth in India? I wouldn’t say that the category is seeing a spurt now—it’s being going strong for a while. Just look at the popularity of Rick Riordan, Stephenie Meyer, Jeff Kinney and so on. It is true that publishing houses here are making a concerted effort at the moment, but I can’t speak for anyone else. At Penguin, Inked has been on the cards for a while, and we are launching now that our plan is in place.
What made Penguin decide to launch a separate YA category? No one can deny that children today are growing up very fast. There’s a whole new stage of emotional growth that’s popped up, and teenagers want and enjoy far more autonomy than they ever have before. They demand and get the freedom to access information, to express themselves and to make choices for themselves. This means that the traditional division of children’s writing vs adult writing just doesn’t work anymore. Children’s writing, especially in India, tends to be nostalgic and occasionally didactic, and seems to come from an external voice that is directed at the children. Your modern teenager wants none of that! Internationally the YA space has taken off in the past few years, with Harry Potter and Twilight becoming overall sensations, which led us to believe it was time we started to explore this space in India.
What are the different genres we can expect to see from Inked? Well, my whole philosophy with Inked is very simple — if it’s a good book, well plotted and well written, and it speaks to the audience, let’s do it. I will say though that there is a tendency in YA to gravitate towards fantasy, especially paranormal, and romance, and I find this a bit problematic, because the interests of such a large demographic cannot be so limited! We definitely want to publish across all genres, so later this year you will be seeing science fiction, non-fiction and a coming-of-age novel. I’m hoping to publish more genres next year, more non-fiction for sure, maybe some horror and humour. Both fantasy and chick lit will continue to feature in our list. What is the kind of readership that Inked is looking at? Anyone who likes our books! Technically our readership is about 13-19 years, but the beauty of YA is that, because the themes transcend generations and age, they can be read by anyone!
Inked books are available on flipkart.com
By Bijal Vachharajani