THE YEAR THAT WENT BY: 2017 AT BEE BOOKS – ESHA CHATTERJEE SPEAKS
Since we started, every year has just been a little more exciting than the previous and 2017 did not disappoint.
It has been a fulfilling in more than one ways.
At BEE we aim to lay out a platter of different kinds of books, participate in exchanges and collaborations and promote literature. Traveling and meeting new people, forms a core of my way at looking at publishing.
Like every year it started with the KLF 2017 where BEE was a content support and we connected to a lot of new authors, celebrities and young talents. At the Book Fair we experimented with an open platform stall, which I felt was more welcoming than four sides closed spaces. Bright yellow colored walls and merchandises.
We are hoping this year too we will expand our range of merchandise and bring forward a couple of more products.
2017 has been a milestone year for us as our BEE turned three. We celebrated with BEE Turns Three – an anthology of 20 short stories; it is exclusively available on Kindle. The book ranked at number one for a few days after its release.
When I sat down to recount this year that has gone by for the BEE Blog, I decided to write in the form of a timeline—the only form of narration that suits me. So let me start with January 2017
The year started with Jaipur Book Mark where BEE presented its upcoming title list for translation from the Indian languages in the panel – Translating India. I met Paul Beatty at the Harper Collins dinner (but secretly wishing to meet Neil Gaiman not knowing what the future held).
Soon after Jaipur, BEE made its mark at the Kolkata International Book Fair with an open platform stall and then at the International Kolkata Literature Festival 2017 on 2–4 February.
10 countries. 65 speakers. 15 panel discussions. 3 cultural performances.
The Valley The City and the Village project was launched at the Literature Festival which also marked the start of UK India Year of Culture 2017, with the publication of Natalie Ann Holborow’s book, And Suddenly you Find Yourself.
We had three lovely authors, Natalie Ann Holborrow Sion Tomos Owen and Sophie McKeand along with Richard Devis, publisher at Parthian Books, Wales, and Gary Raymond, founder of Wales Arts Review.
We also welcomed another delegation from Scotland, lead by Jenny Brown and authors Doug Johnson and Lin Anderson who were part of the Bloody Scotland Session and spoke of Crime Writing in Scotland and that lead us to our second project with British Council UK, also part of the UK Year of Culture 2017. The idea of Bridges Beyond Boundaries originated from the Bloody Scotland Session at our Literature festival with Jenny Brown, Doug Jonstone, Lin Anderson representing Crime Writing in Scotland and Monabi Mitra and Krishnendu Mukhopadhyay speaking about Crime Writing in Bengal.
Awesome Four was another series that we launched in collaboration with PC Chandra. A four book series for children with Ceph the octopius, Angelina the angel fish, Buff the fat butterfly and Gracy the geeky chicken. All the characters, with their flaws, were heroes in their own way. The reason behind the book was to make every child feel special. PC Chandra also launched their Little Jewels range of jewelry for kids. The launched was graced by well-known Bengali actress Koel Mullick.
The success streak of January continued as we geared for the book launch of Saint Teresa of Calcutta in Kolkata by Shri Satyam Roychowdhury. It was launched by our honorable ex-president Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
The book was earlier launched in Rome at the cannonisation of Saint Teresa
March was probably the most boring year at BEE and for me as well since we are only consolidating accounts. But the month was brightened up when Shri Samares Mazumdar dedicated the book Calcutta e Nabakumar in my name.
Also, BEE had a new yellow bookshelf and cyan sitting places, which we got customized and specially designed with our house colour. Our new office space was also done up with bright yellow walls.
With the new financial year ahead, April went by running around VISA and bookings for our month-long trip to UK.
It was all about the travel to the beautiful country of Wales. We travelled to seven cities along with our welsh counterparts. The most memorable was the Hay festival where the authors were part of the hay mela session. I also met THE NEIL GAIMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I spent the first-half of June holidaying in France and Netherlands. Although it was meant to be a leisure trip, but France being the focal theme country of the Kolkata Books Fair 2018, I met a few outstanding authors and achievers during my visit there. I am lucky that we have managed to invite most of them and they have kindly accepted our invitation.
Once I was back to Kolkata, BEE was all set to release two of its most successful titles in the coming months.
White Noise by Shruti Upadhaya was launched on 1st July, which went on to become a big hit for us this year. The book was launched at Hyatt Regency Kolkata by reputed actor and theater giant, Mr Rajat Kapoor.
White Noise was also launched in Delhi by Devapriya Roy at the Full Circle Book Store at Greater Kailash.
The book got widely covered by various newspaper, magazines and media blogs and garnered mostly five star reviews.
August saw the launch of one of our most awaited title of 2017 – The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die. Originally written in Bengali by Shri Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay (Goynar Baksho) and translated by the prolific Mr Arunava Sinha, the book got covered widely by media blogs and received many reviews.
On 26th August we went live on Juggernaut with this book and now we have our all our titles on Juggernaut.
September marked the start of my second project with British Council under UK India Year of Culture 2017 – Bridges Beyond Boundaries with Bloody Scotland, supported by Creative Scotland and British Council.
BEE went to the Crime Writers Festival at Sterling in Scottish Highlands. The inauguration of the festival was at the Sterling Castle with a torch lit walk. One of the best experiences was as we walked down from the Castle to the venue for the discussion.
Our next destination was the beautiful Edinburgh. Although the weather was on the cooler side, the people’s warmth compensated for the weather.
At the Crime Writers Festival, apart from the amazing sessions, BEE met the three amazing authors, Val McDermid, Graeme Macrae Burnet and Abir Mukherjee who all will be travelling to Kolkata for the Kolkata Literature Festival 2018 for a week in February which includes travel across Kolkata and Shantiniketan and interacting with all the delegates and guests.
BEE’s next stop was London and we had a wonderful time discussing prospects and programs to promote Indian literature on international platform, through various programs and collaborations.
September also marked the 50th year for Kishore Bharati as a magazine and the celebration at Gorky Sadan had all the illustrious authors and poets, Shri Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay, Shri Shankha Ghosh who unveiled the cover for the 50th Sharadiya Kishore Bharati, Shri Samares Mazumder, Shri Sanjib Chattopadhyay, Shri Samit Roy and Shri Prafulla Roy. We also had with us reputed singer Swagatalakhsmi.
The book BEE Turns 3, celebrating three years of BEE Books, went live on kindle and in no time came on #1 on the list of new releases in the fiction category.
We also released the book, The Dedicated by Lizelle Raymond with a foreword by Shri Sanjib Chattopadhyay on her 150th Birth Anniversary.
We were also associated with Bangla Sahitya Utsav conducted by Patra Company which took place at the Apeejay Lawns this year in association with Oxford Bookstore and completed 3years in a row.
November was dedicated to our beloved Shankar and his adventure in the Amazon – an enthralling story of two adventurers – Shankar & Anna who travel thousands of miles to reach the mythical city of Gold – El Dorado. With natural difficulties, wild animals, savage tribes, and vicious gold digger, it’s story of discovery & knowledge, unrelenting courage, survival, loss & pain. But above all, it is a tale of universal human bond and connection & the wisdom an individual gains from it.
As the year ended, we at BEE geared up to release our next set of international thrillers and crime fiction. On 31st December, we released the Bloody Scotland anthology and simultaneously laying the groundwork to release The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau, a psychological thriller by Graeme Macrae Burnet, and also the preparation for the upcoming Kolkata Bookfair are on full swing.
The cycle continues; the ball keeps rolling and we set to face another year full of surprises – new projects, new books and lots of work!
Happy New Year 2018!