The marketplace is having its effect on other books as well. For decades, the National Book Trust had been content to produce books that others didn’t dare to, forbiddingly dull books between duller covers. But now the subsidised publishing house has decided to turn over a new leaf. Trying perhaps to make up for the years of sloppy marketing, the NBT released its latest book, Women Who Dare (edited by Varsha Das and Ritu Menon) with two book launches. Crammed into the event were readings, documentary film extracts and a hilarious mono act by Maya Krishna Rao in which she spoofed the 21 women profiled in the book: an improbable mix of academicians like Romila Thapar and Veena Das with the usual suspects like Kiran Bedi and mountaineer Santosh Yadav.
Even the reclusive Vikram Seth and Amitav Ghosh have been dragged out of their retreats by Delhi’s autograph-hungry (non)readers. In a carefully worded invitation that skirts any mention of reading, Amitav’s two publishers, Ravi Dayal and Permanent Black, are hosting cocktails "in celebration" of his The Imam and The Indian—Prose Pieces. Seth, however, will have to do most of the talking as the chief guest at a memorial lecture organised by Soli Sorabjee in memory of former Target editor Rosalind Wilson. The topic this year: ‘Friendship and Poetry’.