18 must know facts about the Indian publishing industry

  1. India’s print book market—which grew at a rate of 20.4 percent, compounded annually between 2012 and 2015—is estimated to be worth Rs 26,060 crore.
  2. India is the sixth-largest book market in the world, and currently the second largest for books in English, behind the United States.
  3. Demographic trends support the high growth rate of the industry. The adult literacy level in the country, now at 74 percent, is projected to hit 90 percent in 2020, and this is expected to continue feeding demand for books. Additionally, the government’s expenditure on education and educational resources boosts the demand for books even further
  4. Youth and children constitute a strong readership base. The National Youth Readership Survey 2009 showed that one third of the country’s people are between the ages of 13 and 35, and 25 percent of them—83 million—are book readers. Of these, 53 percent live in rural areas and 58 percent are either at or below matriculation level. Curriculum-based reading and reading to gain professional skills dominates youth readership patterns.
  5. Nielsen’s survey among urban consumers shows that they buy more educational books than trade books. The educational books sector, which forms 70 percent of the book market in India, is the bulwark for the publishing industry.
  6. The National Library in Kolkata, which maintains the Indian National Bibliography, is supposed to receive a copy of every book published in India, as per the Delivery of Books Act of 1954. However, the Act has not been enforced in spirit, and many newer publishers are not even aware of it.
  7. In India, ISBNs are issued free of charge by the Raja Rammohun Roy National Agency for ISBN, hosted at the ministry of human resources development. The agency claims to have issued ISBNs to 19,000 publishers since it was introduced in the country, in 1985.
  8. The process of applying for an ISBN is fraught with challenges for many publishers, especially those based outside Delhi, where the issuing agency is located. Delays of up to three months in receiving ISBNs and difficulties in following up on applications have been common grievances.
  9. There are just a handful of professional literary agents in the country, and almost all of them work for the growing tribe of English-language writers.
  10. Out of the 9,037 publishers identified in the Nielsen report, 8,107 publish books for schools, colleges and higher educational institutions. Only 930 are trade publishers.
  11. As per Nielsen’s report, the schoolbooks market in 2013–14 was worth R18,600 crore, and the market for books for higher education was valued at R5,600 crore in the same period. The trade books market was valued at R1,860 crore.
  12. The National Translation Mission, which is mandated by the government to create “knowledge texts” in translation as well as to build translation tools and conduct translator education programmes, found in a survey conducted in 2009 that there was a mismatch between the demand and availability of translated texts in Indian languages.
  13. 55 percent of trade books sold are in English; of the remaining 45 percent sold in Indian languages, Hindi had the lion’s share, at 35 percent.
  14. Even though books comprise less than 1 percent of the total retail market in India, Nielsen’s data suggests that an extraordinary 21,000-plus retailers sell books here.
  15. Trade publishing in English took off in the country when Penguin Books India was launched, in 1985. Over the following two decades, professionals with industry experience set up local, independent publishing houses. These included Kali for Women (now split into Zubaan and Women Unlimited), Mapin, Tulika Books and Stree-Samya.
  16. Some notable children’s books publishers, such as Katha, Tulika, Tara, and Ekalavya, came up during the 1990s and thereafter. However, the pioneering Children’s Book Trust, which was established in 1957 by the cartoonist Shankar to publish illustrated books for children, as well the NBT, whose mandate includes producing affordable children’s books, remain significant due to their multilingual lists.
  17. Restrictions on foreign direct investment in book publishing were lifted in the year 2000, after which other top multinational publishing companies followed, such as Hachette, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Bloomsbury and Harlequin. Almost all the multinational publishers in India are now fully owned entities of their parent companies.
  18. Government schemes for the procurement of books for school and government libraries are often subject to corruption. By colluding with procurement officials, opportunist private publishers produce books of questionable quality and get them selected for library purchases. Some publishers base their entire business models on such transactions.

Read the full report here.