This year Other Books turns 10. Down my memory lane, it was started as a venture for making socially and historically radical titles in the Kerala market. Academics, journalists and above all bibliophiles gathered in Calicut and thought of the books we had read and the books we had yet to. Most of them were dissatisfied with the books churned by the corporate publishers both in their original and translation. We inked deal with all major ‘alternate publishers’, a few of whom have been eaten up by conglomerates, and made ourselves a selling hub for them.
We don’t say we were the forerunners. But many serious readers relied on us for the alternate reading. This means that alternate publishers did not have as efficient a market as the corporates had. In 2003, we were one of the channels through which they could reach the readers in Kerala.
Four years later, it dawned on us that Kerala, especially Malabar, is not only the recipient of knowledge. We had had many histories to narrate and much more stories to tell; social and political situations to be studied on; and cultural and religious traditions so misconceived, so monopolized and so prejudiced as to be deconstructed. So we donned the cloak of a publisher.
We got started from Tuhfat al Mujahiddin of Sheikh Zainuddin Makhdoom. We published it in association with the Islamic Book Trust, Kuala Lumpur. An alternative publisher could bask in the claim of 48 titles in the sixth year of publishing. But our challenges are many. Not to get stale and to fall in the time warp is one of them. We think of ways to face them all.
But, here is rundown of those very important titles which might make you say: Other Books matters.
(A professor of Oral Medicine by profession, Auswaf Ahsan is the Managing Editor of Other Books)