Mehta hails publishing after lifetime award

Sonny Mehta, editor-in-chief of Alfred A Knopf, has said publishing's editorial, marketing and publicity standards would guarantee the sector's relevance, as he was awarded the eighth LBF Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing yesterday (12th March).

Mehta, who is also chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, was presented with the award by author Kazuo Ishiguro at the fair yesterday. He said: "The award reminds me of how lucky I am and what a wonderful time I'm having."

Having worked in publishing since the late 1960s, Mehta said although the industry had seen many changes in his time publishers are still relevant. "Even in a digital world publishers bring something of value to books and they are going to continue to do that, it's not just about editorial standards, but about publicity and marketing as well."

Mehta has published authors including Thomas Mann, Willa Cather, Albert Camus, John Updike, Toni Morrison, V S Naipaul and Bill Clinton. He added he was lucky in the start of his career to find "a job when there were few Indians in publishing".

He added: "I had never worked with hard covers and I had to learn how to publish in hardcover. I don't think hardcover will disappear, we just need to adjust print runs and expectations as we've had to with mass market paperbacks for trade paperbacks.

"I don't think big advances are over either; everyone will continue to assess books on an individual basis, and I'm sure some 
will be worth it."