Chiki Sarkar, former publisher of Penguin India, and editor-in-chief of Random House India, has set up a digital-friendly publishing company, Juggernaut, with Durga Raghunath, who launched Firstpost, was CEO of Web18 and, most recently, was senior VP, growth, at Zomato.
Juggernaut will give authors both a digital and physical platform and 're-imagine' books and innovate with their length for mobile at both ends of the spectrum - new ways of commissioning and also rethinking the reading experience, book distribution and payments.
The team sees an opportunity in tapping into India's 150-plus million smartphone users, and is working towards becoming India's first phone publisher from February. Raghunath says, "There are more Indians accessing the internet, reading, writing and paying online than there were five years ago. I cannot imagine something more exciting than rethinking the underdeveloped book market and getting Indians to read."
Juggernaut will look at all genres of books - commercial, literary, business and lifestyle. As for the preference between traditional and digital formats, Sarkar says, "While we will have a bigger phone list, our focussed physical list will eventually run up to 50 books a year."
Along with Sarkar and Raghunath, Juggernaut's founding team includes Gavin Morris (art director), Jaishree Ram Mohan (managing editor) and executive editors Nandini Mehta and R Sivapriya.
The digital and business teams include Saurav Roy (chief product officer), who has founded two companies, Myriads and Burrn, and Neel Karinje (CFO). Fabindia's founder William Bissell, Infosys' co-founder Nandan Nilekani and Boston Consulting Group India's managing director Neeraj Aggarwal are among the investors in this publishing startup.
The digital programme, which forms a major focus of the venture, will be announced shortly. On the launch and marketing campaign, Raghunath says, "We will have a combination of viral ideas, partnerships and a digital awareness campaign."
The team is pleased with the initial reactions and the huge buzz the announcement has generated. Sarkar says, "News of our announcement has been trending on Twitter; this makes me feel very optimistic!"