Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thoughts on the Indian Publishing Industry

Peter Collingridge has put up some of his notes from his experience on the British Council’s UK Publishing Entrepreneur Trip to India. He briefly touches upon the history, present situation, government support, statistics, editorial and rights focus, supply chain, retail, e-books, etc.

Via Times Emit
1990’s - Great liberalisation, which finally allowed foreign companies to set up in India, rather than enforced minority stakeholding as previously. Policy initiated by Manmohan Singh (now prime minsiter) as finance minister. Exclusivity ended, and distributors finally became publishers. The previous (export) differential margin had been bearable, but publishers are now being squeezed very hard indeed.

Now the market is model of non-homogeneity. In fact, India is made up of many markets, structured by the language of the works being published.

There is a lot of central government control, via a collection of literature academies, with the intentions of promoting regional literature - when a title gets picked for this, it is very prestigious. Sahitya Akademi is a bit like book trust, funding inexpensive book for children in all regional languages.

Rights-wise, the focus is on selling imported titles (either in terms of imported copyright, or physical editions) rather than acquiring them for original publishing. However this is changing.

India is 7th largest publisher in world; 3rd largest English language.

Estimates for 82,537 titles published in India last year are “way, way too low!” i.e. these are just those which are registered. 16,000 publishers, with 1,000 publishing over 50 p/a.

Other than literacy, distribution is the main problem.Convoluted Structure: Publisher –> Wholesaler –> Distributor –> Customer –> Reader. Must be strengthened & streamlined

Explosion in retail in last 10 years. Now dominated by corporate chains: Crossword, Landmark, Odyssey & Oxford.
Read the rest of Peter's notes here.

Image Source: Blacknell

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