Challenges in publishing in the pandemic era…
Chander Mani Gosain of Friends Publications India shares his views on the state of publishing industry in India in the times of Covid-19.
The pandemic has changed the way we live and do business. When it’s over, will things go back to normal? And what about us, will we be working on the same pace?
We deal with one of the most important sector of the country i.e. Education. We are the bridge that connects students and the teaching fraternity with education material from across the globe.
Funds for books will be majorly hit
There are so many restrictions that have already been drafted and will be imposed by most governments and private institutions on their expenditure. Technology cannot replace books, teachers across schools, colleges and universities are making use of technology by taking online classes, sharing study material online as the need of the hour they have adapted to technology. So, where does the priority for allocation of funds for purchase of books stand?
Problems with bulk purchase
People from our trade who do bulk purchase work will be the worst hit by this. MPLADS funds are suspended for two years while few states have also announced suspension of MLA funds. I wonder whether there will be any bulk purchase happening in future. Where will these publishers go?
Post lockdown issues
Moreover, the lockdown has been lifted with restrictions of social distancing and few state borders have not opened. The entry into government institutions, schools, colleges and universities will be strict and restricted. The exhibitions organized by Universities, Colleges and private companies won’t happen. Due to these restrictions into force, we will not be able to visit or send our sales force on tour.
Every country will have their first priority to re-build and support their industry, due to which export of books may also get affected.
Few of us can sustain this financial year, most of us can sustain for six-eight months but there are many of us who won’t be able to sustain for more than two months. No one knows when the things will get back to normal, no one knows whether the business preposition will remain the same. With no flow of funds and with no business how long can we do this?
Ours is an unorganized sector, we cannot predict our growth and business. When an institute does not get funds, our business is hampered. The policies laid by the government related to our trade are not followed by some government institutions (e.g. Books are not store items and tender can’t be called, still government asks for tender; books are exempted under GST still government ask for GST on the process of making book). We could not address these issues and the need of the hour is to be together. We should try and get a platform for ourselves where we can share and discuss our problems with the government.
There stands a chance to diversify and invest in other industry. But looking at the current economic conditions that also seems a little risky. It’s time to act now.