Friday, 25 May 2012

Evolution of the book - Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh

Part 2

Though there was no formal promotion. I shot of a few personal letters to Chefs, hoteliers and friends informing them of the release of the book. Publisher gave us two complimentry copies each. I also created a brief website on Awadh cuisine. The sale took off. Letters, emails started came in from various parts of the world – some of appreciation, some seeking more information on ingredients, some asking permission to provide links on their web-sites, some seeking help to organize Awadh food festivals in their hotels etc.. Hindustan Times carried a book review done by Jiggs Kalra in its All India edition of Sunday magazine and another review appeared in The Indian Express. One airline management bought many copies as their corporate gift. Book shops like Universal and Advani displayed the book in the show case window. Local papers The Pioneer, TOI etc carried stories about the book. On request of Tourism Department Institute put up a Awadh Cuisine restaurant at Lucknow festival at Begum Hazrat Mahal Park. Hotel chains sent their chefs and HR managers to prospect Khansamas in Lucknow with our assistance for their units speciality restaurants. Over a period of two to three years hotels & restaurant industry started taking note of Awadhi cuisine. Speciality restaurants serving cuisine started coming up even in South India – Bangalore , Chennai, Hyderabad etc.. A travel agent organized a group of 20 Japanese Food Lovers to come over to Lucknow at our institute for a day’s workshop on Awadh cuisine. Local travel agent Tornos started promoting culinary tours to Lucknow. Well known American food magazine “Saveur” sent their food editor Margo True to us to find more about Awadhi cuisine and to explore the possibility of an article in their publication. The magazine did come up with a lengthy article on Awadh cuisine of 16 pages with 29 colour pictures in their October 2004 issue – thanks to the second trip of Margo True with her camera team to Lucknow for about a week earlier in February, 2004. A research scholar Holly Schaffer from Dartmouth College, New York came to India on Fulbright Scholarship to do work on the cuisine under our guidance. The book sold in large numbers in Pakistan and Middle East. Then the book went out-of-stock.
We started getting mails about how to obtain a copy from a lot of prospective buyers. When we approached Rupa & Co. with whom Harper Collins had partnership in India, we were told that the partnership has come to an end.  The new partners of Harper Collins are the India Today group, however, if we are interested then Rupa can do another edition provided we revert our copyright from Harper Collins and have a fresh contract with Rupa. I think Rupa had the pulse of the market demand  but were unable to do a reprint as the original copyright contract was with Harper Collins.
We talked to the India Today . They were not sure as to what to do. In their wisdom they decided not to do another edition and agreed to revert the copyright to us provided we pay Rs. 50,000 towards cost of photography and films. Sangeeta and I discussed this and decided to ask Rupa to do the fresh contract provided they pay India Today Rs. 50,000. Rupa was willing to pay Rs. 35,000 only. So we conveyed to India Today that we found Rs. 50,000 on higher side and offered to pay Rs. 35,000. I happened to be in Delhi in February, 2005 and met and discussed the matter with Ashok Chopra, CEO of India Today. To my surprise he was not very well briefed and had not even seen the book. When I told him that Rupa was footing the payment of Rs. 35,000 to do a fresh contract and do a new edition, he must have seen some sense in that business decision. He called for the book and glanced through the pages and decided then and there to go for the second edition. Fresh contracts came to us within two weeks time which we gladly signed and conveyed big thanks to Rupa declining their offer of Rs. 35,000. The second edition came out in early 2006. We were relieved now that the second edition was out but horrific was the book in its new format. The cover page was changed – lay-out, pictures, colour, back-drop – everything. And it was done in a very unprofessional way. Gone was the Islamic touch associated the Awadh culture. The dishes on the cover page had nothing to do with the Awadhi Cuisine. Typographical errors were not rectified. But the second edition was there and it had steady sale then and is selling even now with all the shortcomings. Well, we get our Royalty cheques every six months but not very happy about it.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Mr Saxena

    Does this book have only recipes or history of different famous dishes of Lucknow too?