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Friday, July 8, 2011

BIBLIOPHILE K.S. Padmanabhan: The Book Man bows out!

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BISHWANATH GHOSH / The Hindu / July 7, 2011.

BIBLIOPHILE K.S. Padmanabhan Photo: R. Ravindran
BIBLIOPHILE K.S. Padmanabhan Photo: R. Ravindran.

Bishwanath Ghosh meets K.S. Padmanabhan, who retired last week after a long career in publishing — his company being one of the oldest in the South to bring out literary works in English
How does one introduce K.S. Padmanabhan, considering the variety of hats he has donned? He has worked at a bookshop; run a bookshop; owned a publishing house; been a distributor for other publishers; started the Madras Book Club; and brought out the Indian Review of Books, a highly respected journal, which ran for a decade.

It would be safest — and perhaps most appropriate — to call Padmanabhan, who is now 75, Chennai's own Book Man. Last week, at the Woodlands Hotel in the city, he was given a warm send-off by the staff of the company whose seeds he had planted half-a-century ago and which today stands tall as one of India's top publishing houses — Westland. Even though he had sold the company to the Tata group in 2006, he had been playing the father-figure in the capacity of a consulting editor. But on June 30, he formally retired.

“This is just my first week in retirement,” says Padmanabhan, when asked how it felt to be leading a retired life, “I hope Gautam (his son, who is the CEO of Westland) will still give me manuscripts to look at. I will be reading more books, and I will be spending more time with my grandchild.”

Fortunately for Padmanabhan, he has had company while retiring. His wife Chandra, who has been his partner in the book business ever since they got married in 1965, retired along with him. But while the mild-mannered Padmanabhan is looking forward to play with his grandchild, the indomitable Chandra, who is an award-winning food writer, says it is going to be life as usual for her. “I am going to write more cookbooks,” says Chandra, 68, who has already authored three.

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