Indian publishing industry targets Africa and South Asia in a big way


The two-day PubliCon 2013, organised from September 10-11, 2013 by FICCI on the theme ‘Export Markets’ focused on export markets for books and content, with the spotlight on Africa and South Asia. It also focused on the potential for export of books and educational content from India to other emerging economies. The facts…

Dr Arbind Prasad, director general, FICCI, said, “We have a vibrant ecosystem of publishing. As per industry estimates, the publishing industry stands at around Rs 12,000 crore. We publish in more than 20 languages and produce over 1,00,000 titles per year. We rank third in English language publishing, after the US and UK.”

Sumeet Gupta, Urvashi Butalia, Ira Joshi, Arbind Prasad, MA Sikandar and Himanshu Gupta

“Amidst innovative models to expand to new markets, Africa can offer Indian publishers a brilliant opportunity to further increase its export potential particularly in the areas of school publishing and STM (Scientific, Technical & Medicinal) content. This year, we intend to focus on this promising market,” he added The scope…

“The National Book Trust (NBT) is actively engaged with the publishing industry to reach unexplored markets such as Africa and South Asia. It is looking for long term investment opportunities in the publishing sector under India-Africa Forum,” stated MA Sikandar, director, NBT, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, at ‘PubliCon 2013.’ He also called for leveraging India’s strength in publishing academic books in English and said NBT’s key mandate is to promote Indian publishing industry both in the country and overseas.

While, Ira Joshi, additional director general, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, said that trade in cultural goods occupies a significant place in an economy and India is emerging as a professional destination for publishing work. With the advent of new technology, e-publishing and e-marketing are rapidly gaining a foothold in this sector. “We need to leverage this new technology to our advantage as e-publishing is an important source of revenue,” she added.

African perspective…

Ramesh K MittalTokunbo Falohun, minister, Nigeria High Commission, said that Africa offers Indian publishing an excellent opportunity to export school and higher academic content to the African continent. India publishes books of international standard, and is comparatively cheaper than their Western counterparts. This offers a good option to scale export of books to African countries. He said that the Africa book market is mainly centered on educational publishing. This is mainly due to demand in Africa for educational books. Compared to the developed world, the African publishing industry is too dependent on textbook publishing and procurement by the state, the World Bank and donor agencies.

“The publishing sector in Nigeria appears to be quite vibrant and active. Nevertheless, there are several challenges. Even though there are copyright laws and an official Nigerian Copyright Commission, the Nigerian Publishers’ Association (NPA) has established an Anti-Piracy Committee to deal with the problem of piracy in the country,” stated Falohun.

Publishing industry veterans add…

While, Rohit Kumar, managing director – South Asia, Reed Elsevier India Pvt Ltd, said, India has excellent relationship with Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and many other countries. “We have the experience as a country to produce low cost, affordable content that is relevant to local markets hence this is a natural extension of our historical collaborations. African nations and India would benefit from leveraging India as a publishing hub for all publishing services,” he said.

Urvashi Butalia, chairperson, FICCI Publishing Committee and director, Zubaan, said a large Indian diaspora is based out of African countries and now African authors are well-known in India. Hence, Africa is a lucrative market for Indian publishing industry. African markets have been traditionally dominated by the US and the UK but India and Africa are both emerging economies and have similar issues which will help them better understand each other and develop an egalitarian relationship.

Besides, Himanshu Gupta, co-chair, FICCI Publishing Committee and joint managing director, S. Chand Group, said that India produces publishing materials at one-tenth of the cost incurred by the US and the UK publishing sector. Africa and South Asia are markets where Indian publishers have shown great interest for export of educational content. India publishing has a lot to offer in terms of new ideas and innovative concepts.

Interesting sessions

Piracy has been a burning issue for publishers around the world. The latest industry estimate indicates that the total global value of counterfeit and piracy could reach a staggering USD 1.7 trillion by 2015. Piracy and counterfeit in books are not far behind. Piracy is an important issue for publishers from India, particularly because Indian publishers are seeking new business opportunities in emerging markets of Africa and South Asia. However, the quantum of exports is severely hampered by rampant piracy and counterfeit, particularly in South Asia. Pirate publishers from India and neighboring countries supply counterfeit versions of exported books to these markets. One of the sessions – ‘Piracy, Counterfeit and Its Impact on Book Exports’- explored new models and best practices to tackle this issue. Golam Mustafa, managing director of Parama Publishers outlined the piracy conditions in Bangladesh. The session was chaired by GR Raghavender, registrar of copyrights and director, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of HRD. One session was devoted to ‘Monetizing Content Through Exports to Emerging Markets’.

It was expressed that content development is one area where India is emerging as an important destination, not only in terms of production but also of consumption. However, India has to develop novel business models for optimizing books and content exports. We need to assess the evolutionary effects of new consumption trends in emerging markets, and adopt innovative business models. Particularly important are the consumption requirements of the new middle class. The session delved into new ways of monetizing content to enhance revenue streams, through exports of books and content specially from India.

STM books are in great demand in emerging economies. This has especially steeped up with the coming of numerous scientific and technical universities across Africa and South Asia. The Government of India is keen to invest in higher education with the coming up of new IITs, and premier healthcare institutions. These have not only brought to the fore good faculty, but have also increased the level of education, research and scholarship. The country’s present technical expertise and the resources to create state-of-the-art educational content have made India a potential exporter of hi-quality educational books.

Another area which came under focus was school publishing an area which has not seen a slowdown in the past few decades. Currently India publishes not only for consumption within the country, but has also ventured into markets in West Asia, South Asia and East Asia. Amidst innovative models to expand to new markets, Africa can offer Indian publishers a brilliant opportunity to further increase its export potential particularly in the areas of school publishing. The session – K-12 content: potential markets in Africa – looked into the export potential of school books in African and other policy related issue that can provide fillip to such exports. The panelist inclueded Manish Gupta, SK Ghai and Geeta Dharamrajan.

The printed word may be fading away elsewhere in the world, but in emerging markets like Africa and Asia, readers of printed content are ensuring that publishing continues to grow despite international slowdown. Consumption of books and content is becoming global. On one hand Indian fiction writers are felicitated abroad, on the other hand writers from Africa and South Asia are getting popularity in India. Consumption patterns of readers in emerging markets and barriers to export in trade books from India, from both legal and cultural perspective, were also discusseed.

–GS Jolly

Indian-African fact check…

  • The Indian government in a joint initiative with the African Union, has launched the Pan-African e-network project.
  • It will support tele-education, telemedicine, e-commerce, e-governance, infotainment, resource-mapping and meteorological.
  • This project provides seamless and integrated satellite, fibre optics and wireless network, to be provided by India
  • Will connect 53 learning centres, 53 remote hospitals, 5 regional universities, and 5 regional hospitals spread all over Africa.
  • From India 7 leading universities and 12 super specialty hospitals will provide the expert domain services through tele-education and telemedicine respectively


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