The publishing industry in India is set to boom on the back of available technology and resources, spread of education and the government's enabling policy on foreign direct investment, writes K P R Nair for South Asia Monitor
By KPR Nair
Books have always been the medium for the development and promotion of knowledge and human values. Books act as catalysts for the development of a nation. India’s publishing industry is counted among the top seven in the world.
Though growing at an exponential rate, there is no accurate research data available on the size of the Indian book industry. There are 35 printing and publishing institutes in India, providing education in printing and publishing technology, up to the post graduate level.
Two primary reasons behind the growth of this sector are the spread of education and the availability of modern technology.
According to the 2001 census report, literacy in India touched 66%; in 2011, the figure was 74% and, in 2021, literacy is predicted to reach 90%. Two-thirds of India’s population is below 35 years. Book publishing in India is booming at a compound annual growth rate of 30%.
India is ranked the world’s sixth largest book publishing country and third in the English language after USA and UK. There are over 16,000 publishers in India for its nearly 1.3 billon population. India still imports a large number of books from the US and UK. Self-publishing is also gaining ground, although it is still a new concept. Aspiring authors with ready work are finding self-publishing as a viable option.
Rohit Kumar of the Publishing Committee at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said; “2016-2018 will see a dramatic change in the way it is going to function”. The Indian e-book market has also seen a major overhaul, with internet expansion and spread of mobile smart phones.
According to Nielsen estimates, the publishing sector in India is now worth USD 6.76 billion. Led by educational books, the sector is set to grow at an average compound annual rate of 19.3% until 2020. Vikrant Mathur, Nielson’s director of books for India, said strong sales also reflect confidence as aspiration of India’s middle class. India topped the Nielsen consumer confidence index in February, ahead of the Philippines and United States. The Indian industry appears flush with optimism and cash. According to Federation of Indian Publishers, the compounded annual growth of the print book market in India, including imports between 2011-12 and 2014-15, was 20.4%. There have recently been some major mergers and acquisitions; among them Penguin and Random House and Harper Collins’ acquisition of Harlequin. In educational publishing, S Chand acquired Madhuban and Vikas and Saraswati Book House and Laxmi Publications took over Macmillan High Education.
The advancement in technology and India's skilled manpower resource has brought change in the nature of the industry and helped the country become a major outsourcing hub for print and pre-publishing services in the world.
The Indian government established the National Book Trust (NBT) in 1957. NBT has played a crucial role by publishing classical Indian literature; outstanding works of Indian authors; translating outstanding books from foreign languages and organizing book fairs and exhibitions throughout the country.
The NBT has organized 21 world book fairs and participates in major international book fairs annually, showcasing books from India. It makes books available at doorsteps through mobile exhibitions and on-line sales through its website. It has enrolled over 80,000 book club members throughout the country. It also provides financial assistance to authors and publishers.
The government has exempt printed books, newspapers, periodicals & journals from the purview of the Goods & Services Tax (GST), which will strengthen publishing and encourage book reading habits.
The publishing industry in India is set to boom on the back of available technology and resources, spread of education and the government's enabling policy on foreign direct investment.
(The author is Founder and Managing Director of Konark Publishers)