Maintaining a fine balance between print and e-publishing!

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Neeti Verma, sales director, Journals, e-books and Online Resources, Taylor & Francis India, shares her take on what she thinks about printed books and if those would sustain themselves over digital versions today. Ten years back, the online publishing business was a small set of business, with licensed content given to libraries, institutions, research institutes and labs. Taylor & Francis saw a lot of potential in online business and 5-6 years back, it became equivalent to the print business, doubling the business prospects. But, the sales approach to selling online products had to be different as the product is not tangible. It is delivered as well as seen online. So, a group of sales people were niche trained for online sales as here there is a fight for time and space. Discoverability of content is important and so people need to be constantly trained on that, said Neeti Verma, sales director, Journals, e-books and Online Resources, Taylor & Francis India, who has herself trained many sales people for the online business.

Neeti“But there is a fine balance between e-books and the printed books. Newspapers are being read, though news is available online. People read newspapers for the analytical articles. Though in books, the content is same for print and e-version. But, print will prevail…it is a slow-moving process,” she said. “Since, T&F is a reference publisher, it is easier for readers to go online, search what they require and work on an e-environment. But, the company has maintained the fine balance between both the versions and it is a content provider where medium really does not matter,” she added.

The year 2014 has been dominated by many new developments for the publishing industry in India. While universities across the country have been grappling with the concept of open access and the feasibility of turning a traditional model on its head while still remaining lucrative, publishers have enabled smaller, bite-sized content for use outside the context of articles and journals, leveraging supporting data, graphs, tables and charts to their advantage as separate entities in their own right. The mobile and smartphone technology became a rage providing knowledge on the move at universities, libraries and institutions. The most significant publishing trend has been the widespread acceptance of reading devices, which has further accelerated the growth of e-books. The T&F online content is available on all digital formats, such as mobile phones through iphone, Blackberry and Android services that cover 68 percent of the smartphone market and also includes tablet support.

Talking about their online resources, Neeti informed that they have around 2,000 journals, 45,000 e-books, 20-25 encyclopaedias which run on databases, 6-7 niche databases and archives with back issues of 2,000 journals. “Some of the institutes like IITs and IISERs have started asking for e-versions only as they are gradually migrating to e-libraries,” she said. And T&F ensures that it is easy for people to use online resources. “The company’s focus is to create robust systems in place. We believe in instinctive technology rather than trained technology. Our licence agreements make it mandatory to train the users but our websites are user-friendly, which really do not require much training. We are aggressively investing into people who can train and advise them,” added Neeti.

Neeti is optimistic about the digital business with the new government in place, which is no longer shying away from digital medium. “They are ready to experiment though treading cautiously,” she concluded.

–Varsha Verma

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