The Indian arm of global retail giant Amazon is shutting down publishing company Westland Books, which it has owned since 2017, several people involved with Amazon and Westland confirmed.
“After a thorough review, we have made the difficult decision to no longer operate Westland. We are working closely with the employees, authors, agents, and distribution partners on this transition and we remain committed to innovating for customers in India,” an Amazon spokesperson confirmed over email to Mint Lounge.
Bestselling author Amish Tripathi, one of India's top selling writers and the author of the mythological fiction series The Shiva Trilogy, confirmed that Amazon had informed him about the decision to shut down Westland, but said he was yet to work out the details of how this would affect the publication of his previous and forthcoming titles.
Founded in 1962 and acquired by Amazon in 2017, previously East West Books, Westland is one of the largest English-language trade publishers in India. Its bestselling authors include bestselling authors like Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Devdutt Pattanaik, Ashok Banker, Rujuta Diwekar, Rashmi Bansal, Anita and Harsha Bhogle and Preeti Shenoy. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon Eurasia Holdings SARL, Westland is one of India’s major publishers of fiction and non-fiction, launching its own imprint 'Context' in 2018, which publishes literary fiction.
The editors of Westland were informed about the impending closure only earlier today, a member of the staff at the publishing house said, requesting anonymity. While the company has not reached out to all its authors telling them about the impending move, some authors have been told and confirmed the news to Mint Lounge. “If it’s true, it’s very sad. They have been putting out really good books,” said Aakar Patel, whose book Price Of The Modi Years was published by Westland recently.
Nisha Susan, author of The Woman Who Forgot to Invent Facebook and Other Stories, a collection of short stories, said the company briefly informed her about the development earlier in the day. There is not much clarity yet about what will happen to Westland's catalogue, she said. “I assume the rights will revert back to the author,” she said. “This is really sad. Not just for authors like me but for the publishing landscape in India. Westland has a small and extremely dedicated team of editors, publicists etc and it has been a joy working with them,” she added.
Karthika VK and Ajitha GS, the seniormost editors in the team, are well-known in the Indian publishing industry, having formerly worked with HarperCollins India.
“Shocked to hear and this is a terrible blow to publishing in India. Westland and Karthika have published some amazing books and done stellar work. This decision is unfathomable and my heart goes out to Karthika and her wonderful team,” said Nalin Mehta, author of the recent book The New BJP.
The story has been updated with quotes. This is a developing story and will be updated as we have more details.