A Partridge in a Penguin Tree

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

India is a vast book market, and print is still king. So it only makes sense that Penguin (whose parent company, Pearson, acquired self-publishing giant Author Solutions Inc. last year) has just announced the expansion of ASI into India via its new “imprint,” Partridge.

According to the official Penguin press release,

Through this imprint, Indian authors now have access to the widest range of professional publishing and marketing services that meet the best publishing industry standards, but are appropriately priced for the Indian market.

The press release emphasizes–not once, but twice–that “Penguin Books India will be watching key Partridge titles with hopes of picking up authors for the Penguin list.” This claim is prominent also on the Partridge website:

Penguin is watching Partridge India


Penguin Books India has established itself as the country’s largest English language book publisher over the past twenty-five years. Its authors are regarded as India’s literary royalty, having won Nobel Prizes, Magsaysay Awards, Jnanpith Awards, Sahitya Akademi Awards, and Commonwealth Writers Prizes, to name a few. Now Penguin will also be watching Partridge India titles that have sales velocity and authors who have a platform for possible acquisition.

Who could resist such a juicy carrot? Whether it is a real or phantom carrot remains to be seen.

Partridge offers a familiar ASI-style range of fetchingly-named publishing packages, starting with the “Coral” (Rs 12,450, around $240) and running all the way up to the “Diamond” (Rs 149,950, around $2,775). Prices are in the low range for ASI services (compare with AuthorHouse, which runs from $749 to $4,249, or Trafford, which runs from $599 to $10,999).

There’s also a small (by the standards of the American ASI brands) suite of “marketing” services, some of which are cheaper than the same services offered elsewhere in the ASI universe. Compare Partridge’s standard book video, at Rs 86,500 ($1,600) to the $2,699 charged by for this service by ASI’s American brands. (Perhaps production costs in India are lower?) A press release blast is also cheaper–Rs 16,200 ($299) for Partridge’s Essential Press Release, compared with $429 for the American version.

Other marketing services, however, will cost Indian authors more. For example, Partridge’s website creation service will set an Indian author back Rs 25,400 ($470), whereas American ASI brands charge $379. A DIY audiobook from Partridge costs Rs 37,800 ($699), not so very much more than the American version of this service at $649–but that’s only if the book is 300 pages or less. For 300-600 pages, an Indian author must hand over Rs 48,600, or $899.

And check out the markup on the Kirkus Indie Review. You can buy one of these yourself, directly from Kirkus, for $425 (or $575, if you want it faster). But if Partridge facilitates your Kirkus Indie Review, prepare to surrender Rs 86,500 ($1,600).

Indian authors should also be aware that unless they obtain a foreign tax number, Partridge must withhold 30% of their royalty earnings. Partridge’s FAQ also provides US copyright information only, possibly encouraging Indian authors to incorrectly believe they must register copyright in the US in order to have legal standing to sue for infringement elsewhere.

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