SAGE India: poised to be the leading textbook publisher


Vivek Mehra, MD & CEO of SAGE Publications India, shares how his vision of making SAGE India a leading textbook publisher, is taking shape.

In my maiden speech when taking over the chair of the managing director of Sage Publications India in 2006, I had shared a vision of SAGE India growing to become a leading textbooks publisher.

The vision materialises…

Vivek Mehra, MD & CEO of SAGE Publications IndiaThat vision began by publishing our first textbook Microeconomics for Business in October 2007 and the birth of the imprint SAGE Texts. For several years we watched how textbooks were adopted and sold. The market still was still dominated by imported reprints. In 2013, one US Supreme Court ruling changed it all. Textbook publishing had suddenly thrown up a great opportunity for India to march ahead with its own agenda. SAGE India decided to accelerate its publishing program. Here is what we did.

The makeover began with targeting the market. The years spent learning how textbooks sold came handy. The imprint was repackaged, rebranded and relaunched in its current avatar. There were some key issues that we addressed. These are (in no particular order):

  • Target market – we carefully choose subjects and papers we want to publish in.
  • Authors – they have to be able to deliver on time.
  • Packaging and pricing – these are critical to the success of textbook publishing.

The market continues to be dominated by cheap alternatives and there is price point beyond which only plagiarized material printed on newsprint makes sense. That is not the market for any self-respecting publisher. We chose to define the market for ourselves. SAGE India has always been known for its marketing efforts; it perhaps has the largest marketing department for a publisher of its size. We rely on the pull factor of our textbooks rather than a push factor (read deep discounts to the trade). Every textbook is mapped to professors who teach the course and technology helps us get samples out efficiently. This is followed by a dedicated sales team that ensures visibility and distribution.

On upcoming Delhi Book Fair…

To us the Delhi Book Fair (Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, August 27-September 4, 2016) is a key event to publicize textbooks. This fair is more for students than the trade. We have seen over-the-counter sales increase exponentially over the years and we are hopeful the trend will continue. The fair also attracts some small booksellers from neighbouring states and we look forward to welcoming them. The fair always has something special for our customers and this year too we hope to surprise our visitors.

Road ahead…

But it isn’t enough to stop here and wait for ‘destiny’ to unfold. It is time to disrupt this market and it is ready for disruption. SAGE India will hopefully take the lead in disrupting the current trend. I hope to be back telling you how the disruption has unfolded, until then watch this space.

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