As the three pillars of The Seagull School of Publishing sat down and started unravelling the experiences and incidents that individually led them to Seagull Books, one would think that ‘Seagull Books’ came about through sheer ‘accident’—or ‘serendipity’ as a student pointed out. But I would say it was the passion, determination, hard work and, indeed, a few ‘happy accidents’ that brought Seagull Books into being.
Naveen Kishore, co-founder and publisher of Seagull Books, first took to the stage. Because of his theatre background he was immensely passionate about the need to document plays in days when the video camera hadn’t quite exactly evolved. Having no background in publishing, Naveen sought after someone who knew how the business worked and someone who matched his passion for theatre and the Arts.
Enter Samik-da, Samik Bandyopadhyay. Having worked at the Oxford University Press for eight or nine years and being an avid theatre-lover and critic, he made the perfect partner. Samik-da began his story by taking us a little further back in time, to when he was a teacher. After earning a masters degree in English Literature, Samik-da turned to teaching but it wasn’t too long till the education system revealed itself as just that, a system, and Samik-da found himself asking, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’ Ethically and morally he knew he could no longer continue. He hadn’t thought about what he would do next—he just knew that this ‘system’ was not for him. Meanwhile, the regional editor at OUP was moving on and the position was up for grabs. Not coming from a publishing background either (sensing a pattern?), Samik-da was worried about how would he would handle his new job. Not to worry, the editor reassured him, the next six months would provide him with sufficient training. Thus began Samik-da’s life in the world of publishing. The tales that he told us about the highs and lows of publishing glowed like gems—and I was absolutely fixated.
And finally, our damsel in distress—Sunandini Banerjee. I say distress because her story begins with her realising that her childhood dream of becoming a brain surgeon was unfortunately not going to come true. Her ‘genes’, she says, wouldn’t allow it, so she decided to follow her love for the written word. But just reading the written word wasn’t enough, she was equally passionate about the visual aspects of the letters on the page. What she didn’t know was that, subconsciously, this interest was beginning to evolve and gather momentum. After an epiphany in a publishing course conducted by Samik-da, Sunandini found herself at Seagull Books, bright eyed and ready to take on any task/challenge given to her. She began to establish herself as an editor though not for long for soon her visual and aesthetic sense and curiosity started to take over. This has resulted in her now producing the most fascinating and gripping pieces of designs for the written word.
And now, as the three pillars sit and muse on the journey so far, I think to myself, ‘THIS is the most wonderful place to grow and THESE are the most wonderful people who will teach you how to grow.’