Counting the number of titles that went to press in the year 2016 may not much excite the people at Other Books. However, we have never had a quantitative approach towards publishing. Neither our editorial vision nor our resources allow us to. To be precise, we published seven titles last year: two significant Malayalam translations in the West Asian studies – The General's Son by Miko Peled and My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story by Ramzy Baroud; local history Kurungottunadu by KP Abdul Majeed; low-priced Indian edition of Martin Ling's Muhammed – His Life Based on the Earliest Sources in English; third edition of the Malayalam version of the same work translated by KT Soopy; second edition of Dr. Hussain Randathani's Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles; Abul Kalam Azad's Quran Adisthana Thathwangal (Basic Principles of Quran) in Malayalam, again a second edition with a revised cover.
Each of these titles has been of vital significance for us; with raving reviews and good market performance. Although the titles reached the shelves are quite countable, 2016 has been a year we took up important projects for publishing; they are in the pipeline and would find their way soon to readers.
Other Books has had two formal book launch ceremonies last year. Our second title in the local history series, Kurungottu Nadu authored by public historian KP Abdul Majeed, was released on March 13th evening at Malayala Kalagramam, Mahe. Dr. M Bharathan handed over the first copy to Prof. AP Zubair. Dr. M Nisar gave a brief lecture on the importance of local history. VK Kuttu, a public historian and the author of Thalassery Oru Muslim Charithram, another OB title, felicitated.
The next book launch was in Doha on November 13. Dr Ataullah, a Qatar-based Plastic Surgeon from Gaza released Gaza Paranju Theeratha Kadhakal by Ramzy Baroud, translated into Malayalam by P K Niaz, by handing over a copy to P V Saeed Muhammad. Our managing editor Auswaf Ahsan and the translator of the title P K Niaz were also present. This was organised as part of a short public relations trip by Dr. Auswaf in order to invite active supporters to OB on different fronts.
Sharjah International Book Fair, the Arab world's largest festival of books and readers, has stacked our titles in this year as well. Though we didn't have our own stall, by collaborating with our long time associates IBT and Blackstone, we made sure our GCC readers get a continuous access to our titles. It is also to be mentioned that our associate Reyza visited the Malayali scholar Abdellatif Chalikkandy in Rome and gifted our titles.
Continuing its tradition of organising serious academic conversations, Other Books hosted a session called “An Evening with the Translator of Allama Iqbal” on January 3, 2016. Shikwa & Jawab Shikwa (The Complaint and the Answer) has been Allama Iqbal's well-acclaimed poetry in Urdu. A passionate complaint of a believer and a compassionate answer from God, this beautiful piece of poetry is termed a classic both in terms of literary genius and religious thinking. Islamic Book Trust, Kuala Lumpur, had come up with a fresh and remarkable English translation of the work. Other Books invited the translator, Mr. Abdussalam Puthige, a writer and journalist based in Mangalore, to share the pain and pleasure of translating this famous masterpiece. Abdussamad Samadani, writer and orator, talked during the occasion. The "Tea with Translator" evening also included a Kerala launch of the Shikwa & Jawab Shikwa English edition brought out by IBT. Shamsuddeen master Tirurkkad received the copy in the ceremony held at HiLIte Business Park hall, Calicut.
Other Books marketing team has also been pushing the limits, by travelling across Kerala, meeting readers in the academies, creating new avenues in institutions, putting up stalls at different academic seminars, workshops and conferences. A week long discount fair was set up in the month of May, at the ground floor of Islamic Youth Center, Calicut, offering book lovers in town a feast to collect books on various topics OB promotes. This annual discount sales also included a couple of book talks in the evening. The idea was to critically engage with our two titles: Nine Decades of Marxism in the Land of Brahminism by SK Biswas ( ബ്രാഹ്മണ മാര്ക്സിസം translated by MR Sudesh) and The Deliverance From Error by Imam Ghazali (അറിവില്ലായ്മയിൽ നിന്ന് മോചനം) translated by AK Abdul Majeed. CK Abdul Azeez and Raghavan Atholi spoke on the first title and Nabeel Mandalamkunnu, Ahmed Ashraf Mudikkal and AK Abdul Majeed discussed the second title.
Several eminent academicians, authors and research scholars keep visiting Other Books every year. This year, the most remarkable visitors, among many other ones, were historian and linguist Prof. Istvan Perczel of Central European University in Budapest, South Asian and Islamic Studies scholar Siraj Scott Kugle, Latin American decolonial thinker Ramon Grosfoguel and Chennai based philosophy professor James Kurian.
One of the major decisions we took this year was appointing a social media manager; Ramziya Ashraf is creatively carrying our titles and activities across social media platforms to make us more visible among our target readership. Other Books takes pleasure in taking interns occasionally. Last year, Muhammed Ali Jauhar, from the department of Mass Communication in Hyderabad Central University and Fuad TP from Sabeelul Hidaya College, Parappur fruitfully interned with us. The editorial team had two interesting trips this year: one to Kakkadampoyil, often called the Ooty of Malabar, and Kodikuthimala, a beautiful foggy hill in Malapuram district.