“Digital content is the need of the hour”

Says Hanish Kathuria, Co-founder & CEO of Rafiki Solutions Pvt Ltd in conversation with All About Book Publishing.

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Hanish Kathuria, Co-founder & CEO of Rafiki Solutions Pvt Ltd, started his career as a banker with HSBC and then moved to publishing & printing industry in 2009 and since then he has been promoting EdTech solutions in India and across the world.

Hanish Kathuria, Co-founder & CEO of Rafiki Solutions Pvt Ltd, shares his views on the publishing industry in India post pandemic. Rafiki is a fast growing content solutions enterprise that provides e-learning, assessments, Live Q&A, learning modules and printing services to multiple industries like education, publishing, healthcare, media and digital learning. Their clients include Code Mantra, First Cry Intellikit, Chegg, Brainly, Himalaya Herbal, Voltas, Sidharth printers, to name a few.

Impact of Covid on education…

“There is a massive shift in the education sector in India since last year. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced online learning for almost all schools & colleges, its teachers, and students.Online learning is a completely different mode of learning. It is more self-paced, students use various online resources, communicate, collaborate with peers and external communities to find solutions while the teacher changes from a knowledge giver to a hands-on facilitator immediately. With blended learning as potential solutions for schools, e-learning seems here to stay,” he says.

The print market…

“The Indian print industry has undergone a revolutionary change since 1990. Indian books, journals and printing jobs, etc. are being exported to over 120 countries of the world, both developed and developing. The industry has grown leaps and bounds due to the latest technology and machinery, demand, quality standards and production capacities. However, over the years, the publishing and book printing industries have been in a continuous state of change resulting from technological innovations, and the shift from print to digital publishing transformed the firm’s business quickly. We will continue to witness consolidation in printing industry in a short time. Consequently, these industry disruptions will continue to occur at faster rates, “ he says.

Challenges for publishers…

“Publishing industry has been evolving since last couple of years to deal with digital disruption. Even during Covid-19, many publishers realised the shift of data consumption from print to digital.Publishers have changed their strategies to prevent from becoming obsolete. Despite, publishers and digital platforms still have to fight the piracy of digital books,” he shares.

Another challenge he shares is that some book publishers focus on the need to reduce the cost due to competition & price sensitivity which affects the quality of the books. “However, readers often judge a book by its cover. The material and printing quality should match international standards,” he adds.

“Besides, in the current era of competition, with the excessive availability of content, which is easily accessible over the internet, it is a challenge for book publishers to ensure their book is in the spotlight,” adds Hanish.

Innovations in publishing…

The pandemic has triggered most businesses to rethink their way of functioning, given the changes in demand, the rise in work-from-home practices, and the restrictions of social and physical distancing. Several may not survive unless they adapt to the rapidly changing market. As I always believe that change is the only constant in this world we need to embrace it to grace it,” he shares.

Publishers will need to develop innovative strategies such as:

• Digital Marketing: Much of what readers consume is based on recommendations on social, e-magazines, e-commerce, and other platforms. Publishers must shell out budget for digital marketing.

• Bookselling as online and digital-first: bookselling through online platforms like amazon, flipkart etc.

• Platform Partnerships: Publishers should consider new models of partnership with the platforms that people use most. Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and others are offering investing heavily in content and engagement strategies

• eLearning content development: The books are no longer just the format or purely the content. Print & ebook should launch parallelly with must have features of audio, video, interactivities or search option to fulfil the consumer’s need.

Trends for the next 5 years….

“The EdTech firms had a 10-fold rise in registration for trial or free coaching in the last few months. Trend distinctly showcased that the digital content has become need of an hour. Before pandemic, the elearning industry was expanding at a constant pace. But now, not only schools, educational institutions, publishers but many other sectors tend to invest in digital content development and virtual learning experiences for their employees. According to a new study by Global Market Insights, the Indian online education market forecast to be worth $8.6 billion by 2026. This means there are tons of opportunities for businesses looking to use eLearning to fuel growth and expansion,” he adds.

“UNESCO also believes that the new reach out to technology will bring about major changes. Schools will promote ‘flipped classrooms’ with online and offline instructions, where students could watch videos at home and do their work in school. Hence, there will be a huge rivalry among Ed-Tech companies & publishers in coming years to build best of their content repository,” he concludes.

 

 

 

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