GenX in Publishing!
Innovative ideas, new perspectives, fresh energy… Gen-X publishing professionals are dynamic and eager to take their companies to newer heights. Varsha Verma of All About Book Publishing met such young professionals in the book publishing industry. Excerpts.
BPB is the Asia’s largest publishers of computer, electronic books and CD Roms/ DVDs. For the last 50 years, BPB has been a friend, philosopher and guide for programmers, developers, hardware technicians, IT professionals, etc who have made things happen in the IT World. The publishing house was started by GC Jain, who has been honoured with the Padmashree award in 2002 by Hon’ble President of India for his contribution in spreading IT Education in India. Today, the publishing house benefits from fresh ideas by third generation entrepreneur – Nrip Jain, who joined the family business in 2011, after completing his B.Sc. in Business Studies from UK and working with a corporate for two years in UK.
Journey so far…
“When I joined the family business, I realised that we need to be street-smart. I was lucky that I had an experienced set-up with good family values in place. The mix of academics and experience was great,” he shares.
“Since the marketing has changed over the years tremendously, I wanted to change ahead of time, so I use all channels like online, interactive and social media to reach a wider audience. It is important to engage with customers and social networking sites like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and LinkedIn go a long way in keeping them engaged,” he adds. Nrip is open to improve on his systems and working style with time. His all-time role model remains Steve Jobs, who believed “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
Offering international books at low prices
Nrip sees a huge potential in the computer publishing segment as the world is going digital. “For the last two years, BPB has reprinted low priced Indian editions under arrangement with leading publishers like McGraw Hill, Sybex, Pearson Group, Wordware, Mike Murach & Associates, Waterside, Barons, Paul Harris (Austraila) etc. which are immensely popular in India amongst the computer book enthusiasts. One important aspect of the Indian reprints are the prices; our prices are very reasonable considering the high quality of production,” he shares.
An important title in their treasure trove is Tally India, which they publish on an exclusive basis. “It is a low cost book which is used in all major universities which have a course on finance & Accounting,” he adds. “What’s more? We offer Tally book in 10 regional languages like Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Hindi, English, etc.”
BPB also publishes customised books catering to the individual market needs. “We customise the books for the school, college and professional markets. With our emphasis on high quality of authorship, authenticated content, editorial and production values, our educational and professional divisions have been fulfilling the requirements of a vast number of readers,” adds Nrip.
“This year, we will be launching 100-150 new titles,” he shares. “Besides, under the National Skill Development Corporation, we will be offering 75-100 titles under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).”
Nrip is also trying to expand into other territories and he wishes to offer his books for schools as well. They are also focussing on real estate and finance. “I tried to monetise the assets we have. We had a showroom in Connaught Place in New Delhi, which we closed down due to emergence of online e-commerce portals like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. We are also focussing on online sales,” he adds.
“Besides, we try our best to offer every product strong and better than the last. We would continue to focus on computer and IT books as we believe that there’s still a lot that can be done in this field,” he adds. Nrip is also open for inorganic growth by acquiring publishers in computers and IT books.
V&S Publishers/Publishing Consultant
Sahil Gupta is a Publishing Consultant, who joined the family business – V&S Publishers in 2009. Today, the publishing house has 600 titles, four imprints and 400 ebooks. He has been instrumental is making V&S a process-oriented company, which separates them from other players in the field. “We have recently developed a good optimised economical warehouse for ourselves, which can be replicated by other publishers as well,” he shares.
“Since publishing is a noble business, as a company policy, we also publish one not-for-profit title every year as a part of our CSR activity. Under this project, we published a book on Autism which is very useful for people living with autistic people,” shares Sahil.
Journey so far…
A BTech in Electronics & Communications Engineering followed by an MBA with specialisation in Marketing & HR marked his change of direction into digital rights management and establishment of consultancy (www.publishingconsultant.in) business. Having sufficient experience in the academic and professional publishing sectors, he works regularly with authors and agents.
Sahil advises publishers on all aspects of digital publishing through his consultancy business. He is an experienced negotiator, with expertise in digital contracts for both selling and acquiring ebooks and other digital products. His expertise includes copyright law and publishing rights, including complete understanding of digital technologies. “I feel that publishing as an industry did not get due recognition. I started my consultancy business to connect with publishers who have been in the market for quite some time but are hesitant about exploring new ideas. There’s so much we can do with the content and optimising our resources is the way forward in this creative industry. So, I try to guide publishers on sustaining with optimisation of resources,” he adds.
“Infact, we give a third person perspective to the publisher; find the loopholes in their system and give them solutions for the same. There is information sharing, rather than finding their trade secrets,” he says.
Challenges faced by publishers…
“The biggest challenge is not having skilled personnel and skilled people are very expensive. Besides, most of the publishing houses do not have processes in place. Their filing systems are shoddy, there are no proper contracts with authors, ecommerce portals, booksellers, etc,” says Sahil. Another challenge he shares is that since 2011, people are moving towards digital and publishers do not know what is the right way forward.
“Besides, distribution network is another area which publishers need to look into. There will be a great demand for books as commodity in tier 2 & 3 cities. So, publishers need to focus on these cities, where distribution systems are still not developed to the optimal level and ecommerce is still in its infancy,” adds Sahil. “There is immense scope for books in regional languages, tribal languages and dialects. I feel regional markets will be flooded with books in their own language.”
The way forward…
“Sale of books is not increasing because publishers are not able to visualise and cash on the fact that content is consumed in chunks. So, there is a need to repurpose the content because it is not about what you publish but it is about how you publish it. Publishers with technology will be at the helm – it is time to use multiple platforms, audio books, QR codes, ebooks, Augmented Reality, videos, etc. Publishers need to embed multiple formats,” he says. Another important point that Sahil mentions is that company ethics will play a bigger role too.
On a concluding note…
“Publishers are here to stay. Books will be the preferred medium for quality content as it is increasingly becoming difficult to find original and authentic content on the internet. I feel consolidation is the way forward and our industry might see more mergers, collaborations and joint ventures in the industry. There will be lot of cross-industrialisation and technology companies will have a greater role to play,” concludes Sahil.