India, which has the second-largest publishing infrastructure among the developing countries next only to China, is expected to see this grow to Rs 800 billion by 2024 from Rs 500 billion in 2019, a new report from EY Parthenon said on Wednesday.
Indian Publishing is the key enabler for education attainment, continuous learning, and recreation, promoter of Indian culture, values, and excellence and is one of the country’s largest media-related industries, larger than print media (newspapers and magazines), digital media (social media, apps, online streaming, music, and games), filmed entertainment (movies), and radio and music, the report, drawn up in collaboration with the Association of Publishers in India (API), said.
Considering the key stakeholders in the publishing industry, India is dominated by educational book publishing with a small share of trade book publishing. There are some 250 million students at the school level and more than 35 million at the higher education level.
These students rely primarily on books as the medium for learning. Thus, the Indian publishing industry makes an integral part of the Indian education system. Further, the report also highlights that there is a strong correlation between access to sources of published information, such as scientific journals and research papers, and the quality of research output. The industry helps with the dissemination of scientific research and plays an essential role in the advancement of research and development.
The publishing industry enables the continued production of knowledge in regional languages. It also capitalizes on the opportunity of continued adoption of digital platforms such as e-books in regional languages to address diverse audience segments.
Though there is a paradigm shift towards the adoption of digital media, print books currently dominate (90 per cent) the publishing landscape in India. According to industry participants, digital formats account for a very small share or 8-10 per cent of the market. However, e-books and audiobooks are expected to be critical growth drivers and have a promising future in the industry.
With the change in customer preferences and socio-economic and technological landscape of India, the publishing industry is innovating new modes of outreach, formats and business structures, the report says.
New business models including online retail, subscriptions, bundle packages, open-access resources, and self-publishing are emerging in the industry. This provides innovative channels to reach a broader target audience and thereby changing the mode of operations for publishers.
Despite the advancements in the country, the publishing industry in India faces a few legal challenges – piracy and copyright issues. To tackle these challenges, India needs a strong regulatory ecosystem for copyrights, the report says.
Given the business landscape in India, private publishers face significant competition from state publishing houses. On the other hand, regulations or norms related to the use of state-published materials vary across the country, inhibiting the industry from operating as a free market.
Concerning India’s regulatory landscape, the publishing industry witnesses a huge impact of GST. In the Indian scenario where a zero-tax slab does not exist, the introduction of five per cent GST on books can benefit both the publishing industry and the government, the report says.
The report notes that the publishing industry plays a vital role in shaping the future of India. Key educational improvement targets and initiatives of the government, creation of a knowledge society, and global dissemination of Indian culture and heritage present how the publishing industry and the government can support one another to achieve these targets.
One of the biggest opportunities for the Indian publishing industry is the National Education Policy (NEP). The shift would lead to the new curriculum and publishing of associated teaching-learning material where the publishing industry will have to provide textbooks and supplementary resources that enable parents, students, and teachers to adapt to the new curriculum, the report says.
Additionally, a thriving research culture also demands an increase in the publishing and distribution of quality research journals. The publishing industry could actively collaborate with the research community to design, market, and distribute quality journals to a broader audience.
Moreover, the publishing industry can also collaborate with government and private organizations to offer diverse content in multiple languages at various price points, and to enable greater access and affordability for end-users. It can support publications of textbooks in regional languages to align with the NEP.
Commenting on the report, API President Neeraj Jain, the MD of Scholastic India, said, “We are pleased to release this report as it syncs with our mission to represent the views of members and fellow associations to stakeholders, government and the society at large on the value proposition of the industry. Through this report, we look forward to witnessing the opportunities that are highlighted and yet to be seized in the market.”
“The publishing industry has a promising future in India. Encouraging the publishers’ involvement in policy-making reforms pertaining to the publishing industry and government’s intervention in overcoming regulatory challenges are expected to transform the present landscape. Besides implementing immediate reforms, the government could also facilitate the growth of human capital in the long run,” API General Secretary Subrahmanian Seshadri said.