“Our primary focus is to build interest in reading and to create more readers over learners”
Says Manoj Satti, Group Vice President, International Product & Marketing, Penguin Random House India, in conversation with All About Book Publishing. “Reading is important. If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you.” – Barack Obama
Building awareness and word of mouth for relevant titles is key to growing readership and sales. In an emerging readership landscape like India where readers are still exploring their taste for reading and preferred reading choices, it is important to highlight and recommend titles which build their interest and draw them into reading more books. Manoj Satti, Group Vice President, International Product & Marketing, Penguin Random House India, shares more about their sales & marketing strategies.
AABP: Share a brief about the distribution business at Penguin Radom House.
Manoj: Penguin Random House India has a significant distribution business where we undertake the distribution of titles published by its group companies – PRHUK and PRHUS. Apart from group companies, PRHI distributes titles published by other publishers like Harvard Business Review, Hay House, Faber & Faber, and Atlantic UK, All publishers represented by Ingram Publishing Services (including publishers like Tuttle, G&D Media, Plata Publishing, Entrepreneur Press, Chiltern Classics etc.), Sourcebooks, Walker Books, Canongate, Pushkin Press, Princeton University Press, Columbia University Press, MIT Press, Little Tiger Books, Zubaan, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics, National Geographic and many more client publishers under its distribution model.
As Group Vice President of International Product and Marketing, my job entails managing this entire portfolio of business including publisher relationships, term negotiations, product selection, pricing strategy, and sales & marketing of the entire range of international titles that we sell in India & sub-continent markets. Our portfolio of international titles is one of the largest and fastest-growing businesses in the sub-continent and we are always on the lookout for more international publishers to add to this portfolio.
AABP: What are the challenges you face in marketing and sales of international titles?
Manoj: Under its international portfolio, PRHI has access to about 200,000 titles across publishers and every month another 400-500 new titles are added to this portfolio. So, our biggest challenge is finding optimum shelf space for all potential titles in retail channels. The pace of publishing and the size of the catalogue often restrict shelf space, resulting in a challenge to catch the attention of readers.
AABP: What languages are the international titles distributed in India?
Manoj: All international titles are in the English language. PRHI has recently initiated a strategic partnership with Instituto de Cervantes and the Embassy of Spain in India to publish the most popular Spanish language classics. Under this partnership, PRHI is releasing 3 titles in the Spanish language in 2023-
- Romancero gitano by Frederico García Lorca
- Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes
- Don Juan Tenorio
AABP: How does distribution work?
Manoj: Distribution works in three formats:
- Offline retail channels are managed through partners appointed as exclusive distributors in each region.
- For online channels like Amazon & Flipkart, supplies are managed through key resellers like CocoBlu, URead, Amazing Buy, and Trans Infopreneur Inc. to name a few.
- We also supply directly to larger retailers such as Crossword and airport Stores like WHSmith and Relay.
AABP: Are the sales of the titles more online or offline through bookstores?
Manoj: The overall revenue split between online and offline channels is in the ratio of 50:50. However, this split may vary from title to title depending on the genre and readers’ buying preferences. Some titles sell better online, and some do better offline.
AABP: Share the promotion strategy to support sales?
Manoj: Building awareness and word of mouth for relevant titles is key to growing readership and sales. In an emerging readership landscape like India where readers are still exploring their taste for reading and preferred reading choices, it is important to highlight and recommend titles which build their interest and draw them into reading more books.
Our primary focus is to build interest in reading both fiction and non-fiction titles to create more ’readers’ over ‘learners’. As an organisation, we are very passionate about the books we represent. We strive to reach every potential reader through different sales and marketing initiatives.
One of the key PRHI initiatives launched in 2023 is the FICTION ADDICTION campaign to build a love for reading fiction. Under this campaign, we are promoting 10 handpicked bestselling stories which are a must-read. This campaign involves participation from authors of these titles and book influencers/celebrities like Twinkle Khanna, Sonali Bendre and many more.
Crossword is our retail partner to showcase this campaign across their key stores between Sep 2023 and until end of Jan 2024. Another big campaign PRHI is launching in October 2023 is THE PENGUIN CLASSICS STORE. Under this campaign, we are partnering with key retailers in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata to showcase the widest range of Penguin Classics for readers to explore. This is a year-long campaign for the love of Classics.
Apart from the two campaigns, the PRHI sales and marketing team continuously engage with key retailers, international authors, local media, and relevant social media influencers to spread awareness and word-of-mouth for books to make them reach their potential audience.
AABP: Anything you would like to add or a message for the industry?
Manoj: The journey from a ‘learner’ to a ‘reader’ is an interesting one. It transforms the outlook of an individual from reading books just to learn better things, to making books a quintessential part of your life. It is a journey of making books your best friend (rather than just your mentor) – laugh with them, cry with them, sleep with them, dream with them and make new friends with them. One can come across new characters, personalities and individual stories which are life-transforming. A good story is always far more persuasive than facts and figures. Therefore, reading is not only about reading books to sharpen your brain, grow in your career and make a better personality, it is also about reading new stories, meeting new characters, and transitioning into a new world every time you open and flip pages of the book.
As an industry, we should collectively work on spreading the love and benefits of reading and open the world to a million opportunities.