Industry Notes: Hay Festival Wales Tickets, Wattpad’s India Office

In News by Porter Anderson

The original Hay Festival today (December 6) opens sales on events in its 2019 Wales program, as Wattpad announces the establishment of a country office in India.

In Wales’ Hay-on-Wye during Hay Festival time. Image: Hay Festival, Sam J. Peat

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘The Promise of Spring’
Public bookings have opened today (December 6) for the 2019 main Hay Festival, which runs May 23 to June 2 in the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye.

To stimulate early ticket buys particularly in the holiday season, the organizers—just days after announcing programming for its winter festival activities in Colombia—have announced some marquee programming for the 32nd iteration of the home-base Hay Festival.

Called “early-bird events,” the events and speakers include:

  • Conversations with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and geographer Jared Diamond (Upheaval); Nobel Prize-winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan (Gene Machine); and travel writers Robert Macfarlane (Underland: A Deep Time Journey) and Horatio Clare (The Light in the Dark, Something of his Art)
  • Award-winning novelist Leila Slimani talking about Adèle, the follow-up to her bestselling novel Lullaby; Man Booker Prize 2018 winner Anna Burns on Milkman; and Markus Zusak discussing The Book Thief in a Hay Festival Book of the Month event
  • Anniversaries of two major children’s books: Julia Donaldson presents her Gruffalo live show in the book’s 20th year, and Michael Rosen talks We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at 30
  • A trio of performances feature comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig offering her latest show, plus performances with name personalities of Diaries Live and Speeches Live

Peter Florence

In a prepared statement, Hay Festival director Peter Florence emphasizes the gift angle of the offering, calling the events, “The perfect gifts of ideas and stories and laughter this Christmas. And we’ll send you the promise of spring.”

The complete program is to be announced March 29. All told, the event should have some 600 writers, policy makers, and innovators appearing during the festival’s 11 days. Ticketed events are held in 10 venues at the festival site. At a time when so many people seem to be rushing to post-book formats, a new attraction this year will be called the Serious Reading Room.

Also new will be an event called Hay Festival Europa28, designed “to promote the sharing of ideas across Europe and beyond through specially commissioned lectures and essays by the continent’s most inspiring writers and thinkers.” This will be taking place only weeks after Brexit, the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU, which will take Wales with it.

Climate change is to be represented by the “Hay on Earth” opening day sustainability of the festival, with a theme of “Food, Farming, and Futures.”

More information on the 2019 Hay Festival is here, and more on the early-bird ticketing just starting today is here.

At the festival in Hay-on-Wye. Image: Hay Festival, Sam Hardwick

Wattpad Announces India Country Office

Toronto-based Wattpad is today (December 6) announcing the creation of a new role in its international expansion, a country-manager office for India. The company has announced that Devashish Sharma will be based in Mumbai as the first to hold the country manager role for Wattpad, reporting to co-founder chief product officer Ivan Yuen.

Sharma, whose background is in the co-living company CoHo in India, is to head up the platform’s efforts to grow its user-base in the country, while working with in-country players “to turn Wattpad stories into film, television, print, and digital projects,” according to Wattpad’s media messaging.

The company reports that it has some 2.6 million monthly users in India (of a worldwide number now said to be more than 70 million monthly users), and that they’re responsible for more than 4 million story uploads. Users in India can browse stories in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Assamese, Marathi, and Oriya.

Publishing Perspectives readers are aware of Wattpad Studios’ international growth efforts, especially in the area of story development for film, television, and other media. As we reported in April, the Canadian company opened its first outpost in Hong Kong, naming 21st Century Fox’s Derek Ong to head up that office. In addition, Lindsay Ramey has joined the Wattpad Studios team as director of content development and production in Los Angeles.

Devashish Sharma

In a prepared statement, Sharma is quoted, saying, “Wattpad is bringing something truly unique to the global entertainment industry: a data-backed and audience-first approach to development.

“India’s media market is growing at an incredible pace, with producers and OTT services struggling to meet the demand for local content. India is a land of stories, and I can’t wait to tap into the incredible local talent on Wattpad to create hits for Indian and international audiences.”

And Wattpad’s co-founding CEO, Allen Lau, is quoted, saying, ““India is home to some of the most creative storytellers on the planet, with the most exciting literary and entertainment sectors anywhere.

“With millions of Indian users and stories already on Wattpad, we have a tremendous opportunity to help Indian writers build a global audience, and work with local studios and publishers to find new voices.

“Devashish understands both the product and community sides of technology, which is the perfect combination to help us expand our business in India.”

Meanwhile, as we’ve reported, Wattpad is continuing to expand its “Wattpad Next” initiative to let readers make small payments to their favorite writers for their work. Most recently, the company added the States to its growing list of markets on the Wattpad Next beta.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Hay Festival is here, on Wattpad is here, and from our Industry Notes series is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.