Entrepreneur in Book Publishing: Leonard Fernandes, Cinnamon Teal ep24


Leonard a mechanical engineer and MBA from Ohio State University worked in the IT sector for several years. He spent a few years in the United States and a stint in Istanbul, Turkey. He returned to Goa, India to start his own venture. Leonard founded an online store for used books, and then he co-founded a self publishing company in 2007, probably before people in India had even heard that name. He went on to co-found another venture in the world of books, this time an annual conference that deals with the future of publishing. And that’s not just in India, the conference invites speakers from multiple countries. His entrepreneurial efforts won him the Young Creative Entrepreneur of the year Award in Publishing by the British Council 2010. For those who may be mistaken that self-publishing would be limited to the world of print and more recently ebooks in English, a visit to our guest’s website will be an eye opener. They offer Audiobooks, books in regional languages of India and services related to publishing.

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Discussion- Entrepreneur in Book Publishing

  • Leonard was inspired by the used book model of Amazon during his MBA days in US. This motivated him to start Dogears, a used books model in India much before Flipkart. It works on zero inventory at hand model.
  • He initially faced a big challenge in getting funding as banks did not want to fund this venture as there was no inventory of books nor any printing press . Venture Capitalists found the funding amount of Rs 1 million too small to get them interested.
  • An year later, he started his self publishing company, Cinnamon Teal.
  • Initially, they would receive about 5 to 6 queries a month for the book publishing but now it is 3 to 4 inquires per day. They publish 15 to 20 titles per month. The focus is to get only the edited books published as the focus is on quality reader experience at a affordable price .
  • Leonard believes the platform of book publishing should not be abused and the essential integrity of the book is to be maintained.
  • He agrees that marketing is a key for any book’s success . In order to support their authors, they email the new book releases to their subscribers for Dogears through newsletters and information about new services to Cinnamon Teal subscribers .
  • Cinnamon Teal is a pure play print on demand service and they have tried to emulate the model of Lulu.com. Their model is not based on publishing packages but it is more menu based where author can pick and choose the services.
  • Leonard believes ISBN is very important and a calling card for any book. In fact, Amazon does their catalog of books by ISBN only.
  • Copyrights education is very vital for self published authors in India .
  • They try to educate authors through blogs, emails etc. One author who got “Lord of the Rings” published in Bengali was assisted to get copyrights approval from Tolkien Foundation.
  • Leonard’s another venture : Under the Pepal Tree is a translation service from Indian languages to English. The major challenge of getting good translations from one Indian language to another is few quality translators most of which are very expensive.
  • He believes that it is very important to look at the quality of the translator before gettting any books translated in Indian languages. Their main focus for getting books published in regional languages is mainly through self publishing route.
  • Leonard believes that the sales of regional language books is much higher than English in India close to 50,000 books per title are sold. Most of the books are sold through saree shops,railway platform etc. Publishers who have devised their own innovative marketing and distribution model have benefited a lot.
  • Cinnamon Teal has ventured into audiobooks. Audiobook costs are very high in India mainly because lot of money goes in production through studios approximately $1000. The high cost of production makes it unfeasible to sale .Leonard managed to reduce the cost to $100 by getting few local studios of Goa on board as music is a big industry . They could utilize the studio in the downtime for recording at 10% of the cost.
  • Leonard started a new initiative called as Publishing Next which talks about the future of publishing . This is the only other publishing event other than Global Local which is organised in Delhi. Publishing Next tries to get various stakeholders in the publishing industry across the globe on a single platform where they discuss about trends in the publishing industry. It is a good networking opportunity too. In order to add much value , they try to get 90% of new guests every year .
  • The 2016, Publishing Next event will focus on workshops and their would be separate workshops for publishing, designing etc .
  • 5xfive is a venture where anyone can become an entrepreneur by selling books from home. This can even be extended by selling books through coffee shops, florist, dentist etc.

Links and References

Contact Leonard: contactus at cinnamonteal dot in

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