Digital age: the way forward for Indian publishing industry


The Federation of Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association in India (FPBAI) recently organised a seminar on ‘The Way Forward for Indian Publishing Industry in the Digital Age’ at the Federation’s office in New Delhi. The seminar was addressed by eminent speakers viz Rohit Kumar of Guiding Star of Digital Publishing LLP, and Sanjiv Goswami, managing director, Springer Businesses, South Asia.

The inaugural address was delivered by SC Sethi, president, FPBAI, who said that in the last few years the publishing industry has moved very fast. “Metamorphism is the law of nature and we all are governed by it, hence why be averse to change?” he said. “Today, digital work is the order of the day. We should accept the order of the day and sail through the tide and time.”

Supporting Sethi’s view, SK Ghai, vice-president and chairman, seminar and export committee, said that technology has not only affected the book industry but has also proliferated to all other fields. Emphasising the importance of printed books, Ghai said that digitalisation is not a threat for the print books, which is evident from the fact that in the past few years the sale of e-books has gone down.

Speaking on the subject of Digital Publishing Market, one of the experts Rohit Kumar outlined the pre-requisites for finding the digital publishing market in India: digital platform, content, and identifiying consumers. Rohit said that in 2014 the rate of internet penetration was Australia 89.6%, USS 86.8%, Japan 86%, Brazil 53.4%, China 46%, and India 19.2%.

Kumar informed the participants that compared to books, journals are being sold and read more on digital platforms, as digital platforms for journals were created about 15-18 years ago; significant sales efforts by publishers to get institutions to adopt electronic subscriptions led to increasing change in user behavior. E-books are sold on the same platforms, he said, yet see much less usage than journals.

Visualising the future outlook, Kumar said that 2016-18 will see dramatic change in user behavior. By 2018 digital natives will start earning and spending. “Bite sized content consumption will increase dramatically on digital platforms. Those platforms with maximum users are likely to benefit the most,” he forcast.

Sanjiv Goswami, while giving the market size, said that as of now India’s book market is worth Rs 26,000 crores. There are about 19,000 publishing houses in India; 12,000 publishing houses are using ISBN system, including 9,000 English language publishers. In a year, almost 90,000 books are published in India, out of which 23,000 books are in Hindi, 21,000 books in the English language, and 45,000 books in 24 regional languages.

“India’s scientific and technical (S&T) scholarly output is 1,06,065 articles, which is 4.4% of the world’s output,” he said. “There are over 40,000 people directly employed by publishers; 21,800+ organised and unorganised book retailers in India; there are organised/semi-organised publishing in 16 languages; books account for 15% of e-commerce trade in the country; 70% of publishers in India have digitised their content to produce e-books.”

At the end of the seminar, a question-answer session took its course. After which SK Ghai brought the curtain down with a vote of thanks.

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