[INDOLOGY] Withdrawing my book from Penguin Random House India

McComas Taylor McComas.Taylor at anu.edu.au
Tue Nov 25 22:03:54 UTC 2014

Colleagues interested in the background to of this issue might read a short article published last week:

Taylor, M. 2014. 'Hindu activists and academic censorship in India'. South Asia. Read online<https://alliance.anu.edu.au/access/content/user/u3936301/hindu_activism.pdf>



McComas Taylor
Head, Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, CHL, CAP
The Australian National University
Tel. + 61 2 6125 3179
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/mccomasanu/
Address: Baldessin Building 4.24, ANU, ACT 0200
Test drive our new 'Joy of Sanskrit' electronic text book<http://press.anu.edu.au/titles/anu-etext/the-joy-of-sanskrit/>.

From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 5:54 AM
To: Indology; risa-l
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Withdrawing my book from Penguin Random House India

Dear colleagues,

As will be well known to all of you, in February this year, Penguin Random House India settled terms with Dinanath Batra, rather than continue fightning in court, and agreed to stop publishing the book The Hindus: An Alternative History written by our academic colleague Wendy Doniger, and pulp all remaining copies.

Penguin Books India (as it was then) also published a book of mine, The Roots of India, in their Penguin Classics series.  My book was handled, back in the day, by David Davidar and his staff, who did a fabulous job of editing and publishing the book. (I did the typesetting.)

In 1998, I was thrilled to have a book in the Penguin Classics series.  But I was correspondingly dismayed when my publisher prematurely capitulated in a patently winnable law case, and publicly cooperated with those who oppose free speech and promote a view of Indian history, culture and public life with which I profoundly disagree.

I therefore wrote to Random House Penguin India, saying that I was now ashamed to be associated with them, and that I would like to stop my book being published and distributed by them.  They wrote back (within five minutes) saying that they would let my book go, since they did not wish to hold on to an author who was unwilling to be published by them.  It has taken some time, but I have now signed the final papers severing my publication contract with Random House Penguin India.  All rights relating to the book have now reverted to me.  The negotiations were civil, even friendly.

There's a twist.  In 2002, Penguin Books India sold Penguin UK a license to publish my Roots book (they're different companies).  That resulted in a new, revised, re-typeset and freshly indexed third edition that appeared in 2003.  As I understand it, that 2003 UK edition (with Dhanvantari on the cover) remains available<http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roots-Ayurveda-Selections-Sanskrit-Writings/dp/0140448241>.

I see that the USA edition of Wendy's The Hindus is currently being sold through the Penguin India website<http://www.uread.com/book/hindus-wendy-doniger/9780143116691>.  There's even a 21% discount.  That renders Batra's victory hollow.

Dominik Wujastyk

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