#Quantum16: India: Is the electronic format getting off the ground in a market still in love with print books?

Part of the Around the World in 8 Hours virtual conference.  Last year, there were two great e-vents from India (see here, and here). This year, Vikrant Mathur, director of Nielsen, P.M. Sujumar – who has worked with Penguin Books India and was CEO of HarperCollins India -and Ankit Pahwa, who works at Kobo and handles jobs including content and publisher acquisition, chatted about the climate of India in regards to the electronic format.

You can listen to the full chat here on Bright Talk, but here’s an overview for the time being…

Their book market…
We start with a Nielsen commissioned study for a comprehensive book market report with a three-phase methodology: secondary data, primary research including face to face interviews with 2,000 consumer representatives aged 18+, and workshops and discussion forums.

The key areas explored are: the publishing landscape in India, government policies and industry implications, status of education, market size estimation, book retailing, the consumer and digital publishing. Some findings include that the K-12 market held 71%, Higher Education 22% and Trade Market 7%. Over 259m students enrolled in 2013-14, and there are now 1.44m schools. Over 30m students enrolled in higher education in 2012-13, and Indian authors in the trade books category are widely read and accepted by the mass market, with literary festivals and book fairs being key ways to promote their work.

The print book market, at a quick glance:

  • 9037 publishers in the country.
  • Ranked 6th globally for print book publishing.
  • 2nd largest English language publisher in world.
  • Over 40k directly employed in publishing houses.
  • More than 21k retailers.

As for the consumer, there’s a great insight from their sample on the level of reading:
INDIA IMAGE.png

In understanding the Indian consumer, they note: reading for pleasure is a common activity, and 85% of respondents claimed to have bought at least one book in the past year. The most purchased category is children’s school books, pointing to the importance of children’s education to buyers, and book buying does not appear to be threatened by free sources.

Where ebooks fall into it…
Opening up to wider discussion, most of the major English Language publishers there say that about 8% of revenue is ebook sales. Considering the number of smartphones and phone connections – around 700m – there’s a very low migration to ebooks compared to the rest of the world. Ebook prices aren’t attractive compared to pbook, which are largely marked down. It’s price sensitive, and explains a lack of take up. Another key factor is that many Indian consumers are still wary of using their credit card online.

Ankit notes on market predictions that romance and erotica are going strong. He’s also keen to note there are two sets of readers when having these kind of discussions: those who publishers are trying to find and acquire, and those who are existing readers.

There are moments where ebooks have their day, as “it is not possible to make the full catalogue available as pbooks, in this case ebooks can work.” There is a worry for books being surrounded by content that is free and readily available, but that doesn’t seem to be impacting as strongly as people feared.

“We have a very vibrant, good market,” he says. There is an opportunity to go deeper into the markets which are not yet relevant. They’re also interested in developing their Indian language catalogue. For him, the biggest opportunity is how big the market is, reaching out to more publishers and people than they currently do.

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#Quantum16: India: Is the electronic format getting off the ground in a market still in love with print books?

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