The publishing industry in India today has come of age. The first and foremost indication of that is the long list of Indian writers who have suddenly appeared on the horizon. We are witnessing a period like never before. More books are being published than ever before and it’s fairly easier for the debut novel of an unknown writer to see the light of the day. Most of the sector though largely still unorganised can be estimated to be worth around 80 billion. Almost 1700 publishers generate content in over 25 languages and almost 88,000 books are published annually. The growth in the industry is pegged at 30% every year. Also, there has been an unprecedented rise in the number of online book stores. To quote Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy at the recently concluded Publishing Next Conference in Goa, “The publishing industry in India is undergoing not merely a transformation but a tectonic shift.”
While there is yet a long way to go for us to come at par with the publishing industry in the west, the current scenario in India is very encouraging. In India there are two trade segments – the literary fiction & non-fiction segment and the academic segment comprising of books for schools and colleges. The latter is larger than the former in terms of volume and value, both.
The major hindrances in the growth of the industry are- the dearth of talented editors and a definite supply chain with major gaps in retail and marketing that needs to be plugged. Though concrete steps have been taken by IIM Ahmedabad to train publishers at fresher and middle management level programs; I believe, there is still a long way to go. Also, there has always been the issue with the editors of publishing house being underpaid. But, the issue seems to contradict itself with almost all the editors starting out in the industry keeping at it till their last working day.
It is clear that most potential buyers may still not have access to buying books, but the industry stalwarts are ready to eradicate this issue with some innovative methods. New business models have arisen with large publishing houses co-publishing and not only distributing their books but of their competitors too.
The advent of e-books, though yet to catch up as it has in the UK and USA, is nonetheless a positive move towards ensuring books reach more users. The online media is pegged to grow at a rate of 35% annually. Like most industries, publishing too is customer based and the industry is as powerful as its reach. And, it is reaching more customers today than ever before. Also, the steps being taken to organise the sector will reduce black-marketing leading to more revenue for the publishers to invest and grow.
With the National Book Trust (NBT) and Indian Institute of Book publishing taking positive steps to ensure more trained manpower takes on the industry, the publishing era in India is all set to scale new heights. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the dynamic industry and I am enjoying every bit of it.