Good content with futuristic studies:

need of the hour

Anil Mittal of Astral International (P) Ltd shares his views on the present and future state of higher academic publishing in India.

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Astral International (P) Ltd is one of India’s rapidly growing publishing houses for higher academic reference books in Agriculture, Science and Technology, Indian Medicine and Social Sciences. Astral distributes books not only in India but also globally. Anil Mittal of Astral shares his views on academic publishing in India and its future prospects.

AABP: What is the future of academic publishing in India in the context of the key challenges being faced by publishing industry and publishers today?

Anil: Future of publishing has always been good. The hunger of knowledge in academicians give us courage of going on. Everybody wants to update themselves of new technologies. The key challenges in the book industry are mainly plagiarism and shortage of educational funds.

AABP: How is technology changing the publishing landscape?

Anil: The new technologies give us ease of work, previously we were publishing 1000 copies and needed godown to store them, maintenance of godowns are high and if a book didn’t sell well, we lost big amount of money. Nowadays production cost per copy is going high. Software and technology has given us the opportunities to fasten our production and reach the target audience quickly.

AABP: In your opinion, what would be future of higher ed in the next decade, with a special focus on the next 3-5 years?

Anil: In my opinion, future is good if we publish good content and futuristic books by anticipating the needs of the students and research scholars in near future. Let me cite one example, at Astral, we published books on agricultural biotechnology in 80’s and nobody asked for those books, but in 90’s those books were in great demand. I believe that next 3-4 years are crucial for the trade as I think there will be further cut in grants for books by government because of Corona virus.

AABP: How has the industry changed in last 10 years and where is it headed?

Anil: In last 10 years, publishing industry hasn’t changed much for academic books, except quality. Only noticeable change that came is in marketing as, because of electronic platforms, we reach every corner of the world. But, again, scholarly books are not meant for general public. However, it gives a good platform to fiction and general books. For academic books, this platform gives nominal publicity.

AABP: With the proliferation of Free access content, how is it affecting the economics of publishing in a price sensitive market like India?

Anil: In the current ever-growing, never constant society, the proliferation of free access content poses eminent danger to the economics of publishing. Free access content, though widely available cannot be completely relied upon. It is highly plagiarised and misleading which is straining the honest research based content of publishers and authors. Although each institution is a source of knowledge, but, we try to refrain ourselves from the plagiarised work and constantly try to motivate our authors to enhance their skills with the developing world. Price sensitivity should not hinder the progress of honest hard work/research.

AABP: How do you think India fits in the global publishing scene in the next few years?

Anil: I am very much “bullish” for India in the global publishing scene, we have to work hard on content and editorial department. If we provide good contents with futuristic studies, then we can make our space. We have to fight with ourselves, not to support plagiarised material. In science and technology, western countries don’t want our books, but they want our authors, which means we have good content creators and we should publish them.

AABP: How is your publishing house poised for business in India?

Anil: India is one of the fastest growing publishing markets and a world-class economic dynamo with a highly literate populace. Astral International remains to be at par with the Indian business and its growth, both with regard to its content and revenue. We aim to work for the growth of our nation inculcating relatively all the topics in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, life sciences, flora-fauna, plant medicine etc. Despite the many challenges faced by the book market in India, we are fast expanding, creating jobs and contributing to the education and literacy of the country.

AABP: Anything else you would like to add?

Anil: Apart from the business a sense of satisfaction that I have done something for the society in all and “farmers” in particular.

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