Monday, October 17, 2005
Hopping into the limelight
Frog Books is slowly making its presence felt
B Krishnakumar / The Week
One man, an idea and a measly Rs 3,000 as starting capital— that was the beginning of Frog Books India. Launched in January 2003 as a part-time venture, Sunil Poolani’s publishing house took its first tentative hops with Jasmeet Chhabra’s debut novel, CrossRoad. Four other books followed: The Urban Voice: Essays from the Indian Subcontinent, a collection of essays by various Indian writers, Rape of News, a compilation of comments against The Times of India’s move to market editorial space, Under a Quicksilver Moon, a book of poems by Abhilash Warrier, and A New Friend, a novella by a Spanish writer Nacho Blanco.
Then in early 2004, Poolani had to do a rethink on the part-time aspect of his publishing house. Zzebra Communication and PR Co.—launched by former Economic Times financial journalist C.P. Thomas, along with PR professional Pooja Chowdhary and reputed columnist Dilip Raote (all friends of Poolani)—were interested in having Frog Books join it. As the advantages were many, Poolani agreed.
Today, Frog Books is a happening venture. "Being part of a media company, we are more networked," says Poolani, who has been a journalist for the last 14 years. "We have more contacts and do strategic thinking." Zzebra does the initial investment on a book, and the team uses its office for networking and Internet sales. Manuscripts are whetted by a panel of eight consulting editors after being vetted by the team.
The works by the two foreign writers that it has published have elicited a good response abroad. While Blanco’s novella garnered orders from more than 100 libraries in Spain, Australian Will Marks’s book The Highway, which details his experience during a two-year motorbike trip on the roads of India, has sold well on the Internet.
The company’s Web site is getting plenty of attention. Many aspiring writers from as far away as Guatemala and Papua New Guinea have spotted the Web site and sent across their manuscripts.
Frog Books has also moved into self-help and children’s books. Its recent publications include The Green Dragon, a book on environment for children by US-based Anuradha Gupta, How To Be Exclusive And Maximise Your Returns, a self-help book by Pune-based management consultant Dr Vasant Khisty, and Winter Whispers, a book of poems by Arun Sharma, a prolific writer in Hindi, Bengali and English. Frog Books plans to publish comics and cookery books as well.
However, the book that Poolani and gang are waiting for is the soon to be printed Bollywood Unplugged by Derek Bose. "It’s a coffee-table book," says Poolani, and the stuff that rakes in the money.