Monday, October 31, 2011

From a newspaper article to a monthly newsletter and, now, a bimonthly magazine devoted to books and reading

Two years ago, Rohita Rambabu (Class of 2011), who was then the Books Editor of the Commits newspaper, had written an informative piece on the Just Books library chain. I had become a member of Just Books earlier that year and I was keen on encouraging young people, who formed the bulk of the readership of Your Opinion, to read books by joining the fast-expanding library. (I thought of this article as "reader service".)

Not long afterwards, the founder of Just Books, R. Sundar Rajan, read Rohita's feature and he asked her to help publish a regular newsletter (see inaugural issue pictured above) for the library. Rohita and her classmate Swaha Sircar collaborated on the project initially, but then Swaha began working full-time so Rohita handled the production tasks independently, under the supervision of Sapana Rawat of Just Books.

"I have grown so much with Just Books," Rohita wrote in an e-mail recently. "It is amazing how an article you suggested that I do turned into such a big opportunity.

"With my Just Books salary, I was able to pay off the loan I had taken from my parents for the Master's course at Commits.

"I have now been with Just Books for almost two years, and they treat me on par with a professional (though I know I am at a very junior level with lots to learn before I am good)."

Some four months ago, another Commitscion had occasion to write about Just Books.

Nilofer D'Souza (Class of 2009), who is a Bangalore-based features writer with Forbes India, contributed a well-written and comprehensive article to the magazine on the technology used successfully by Just Books to "bring libraries back to the people".


And now, soon to hit the stands, comes a full-fledged magazine for book-lovers, backed by the company that launched Just Books, with Sapana Rawat as the editor-in-chief, and Commitscion Padmini Nandy Mazumder (Class of 2011) as the editor.

Padmini, who was a co-editor of the college newspaper (like Nilofer before her) and who gave up her job with CNN-IBN in New Delhi and came back to Bangalore when she was offered this assignment, is a voracious reader and passionate book-lover. She writes in her "letter from the editor" in the prototype issue of the magazine that reading defines who we are. She continues:

Reading can give a fresh perspective to a situation. Books transport us to another world. Books let you leave your humdrum existence behind. Stalk a devious murderer with Hercule Poirot, walk the corridors of Hogwarts, romp in the mud with Scout Finch, fall in love with Mr. Darcy, conspire with dependable Jeeves to get poor Bertie Wooster out of a sticky situation... Love, laughter, tears, horror, fantasy, mystery: you can experience it all in one afternoon with a good book.

I could not have put it better myself, Padmini!


Here Padmini explains why she loves what she does:

Imagine getting paid for doing something you love. Most are not so lucky. I happen to be one of the fortunate few.

After dabbling in a number of career choices (marketing, corporate communications, journalism) and a lot of soul-searching, the opportunity of my dreams knocked on my door right at the moment when I seemed to be losing myself all over again. An opportunity to head a literary magazine.

I love books. Let me reiterate: I LOVE BOOKS. Lock me up in a room full of books and throw away the key and I will bless you for it. So, you can imagine my glee when Sapana Rawat (my boss) called to tell me that she and R. Sundar Rajan (CEO of Strata) had chosen me as the new editor of a brand new literary magazine.

I would be making all major editorial decisions with Sapana and I would have a free reign on the topics we chose to cover.

I was beside myself!

It was a dream job for the likes of me. I'd be talking about books, meeting authors, attending literary fests, telling people about books, and, consequently, create more bibliophiles.

These three months at Strata have been all that I hoped for and more. I have met industry stalwarts, authors, publishers, attended a publishing conference, rubbed shoulders with the who's who of publishing, found out more about the books and authors that I love so much, and brought out a magazine which is exactly what I think is the need of the hour. In the process, I discovered that I am darn good at it too!

The opportunity to do what you love and what you are good at comes across rarely. When it does, grab it with both hands and don't let go!

The magazine should be available to the general public soon. Having had a chance to go through the prototype, I can tell you that Ink is going to be the answer to many a book-lover's prayers. (Ace Commits photographer Pratidhani Tamang from the Class of 2012 has contributed many pictures, including the cover image above.)

Incidentally, another Commitscion, also a co-editor of the college newspaper, Varun Chhabria (Class of 2012), will be helping to produce the Just Books newsletter from January. All the best, Varun!
  • UPDATE (June 19, 2012): Books&More, which is the current avatar of Ink, is now on the web, thanks to the efforts of Varun Chhabria, the associate editor of the magazine. Check out the latest issue here.  


  1. Envy your job Padmini. Sounds like fun! Will definitely pick up the first issue of the magazine.

  2. I know how it feels to be paid for the job you love! Will definitely pick up this magazine, Paddy! Lots of love and best wishes.


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