The sales of digital books in India is expected to pick up in coming months but that will not impact the aficionados love for hardcover books as has been the case in the West, say major publishers here.
India may see good rise in sales of digital books as downloading them on mobiles becomes a possibility but their growth trajectory may not be same as in the West, they say.
Managing Director of Rupa & Co, Kapish Mehra does not see iPads or Kindle book readers replacing the hard copy.
“New technology creates a new reader. Digital books will have their share of techno enthusiasts who will read them. But, that will not impact print versions of books,” says Mehra.
He adds that Rupa is working on ebooks and readers would get some good news in next eight to nine months on this front from one of the biggest publishers in India.
Vivek Mehra, MD and CEO, SAGE Publications says it is very difficult to believe that digital books will replace paper books.
“Since the digital age, HP sells more printers than they did before the proliferation of the Internet. Not all content is easily readable in digital format. Most content is available on a subscription model. An individual could license the use of a journals back-files for a year but the price to purchase would be prohibitive for an individual,” says Mehra.
India is the world’s third-largest book market and with rise in literacy rate, the non-academic book market in India is growing at a rate of around 15 per cent which itself shows the popularity of printed books here.
At last month’s DSC Jaipur Literary Festival, Chairman and CEO of the Penguin Group, John Makinson said,”the idea of the book dying comes up all the time which is wrong. Books matter more in India than anywhere else we publish them.”
A report by market research company Forrester acknowledges that the dynamics for higher growths for ebooks vests with consumer markets like India and China. Advantage India lies in its high quality and low cost of output.
“Physical books will always have a market. Digital books should not be seen as replacing them but should be seen as an added source of revenue through a new product line that caters to and targets a different set of audience,” says Lipika Bhushan of Harper Collins.
Pustak Mahal has seen the market potential of ebooks and claims to be the first publisher to have fully digitalised all its books.
“Ebooks have a lot of advantages. If you do not want to take the full book, than pay only for the chapters you want. Once publishers start digitalising their content, ebooks will be very cheap,” says Gupta.
Although audiobooks have been around for a long time in India but they have been mainly targetting children. But, the trend is changing now.
“Audiobooks are more effective than other type of books. The listener feels connected and the learning and understanding is more in an audiobook than a normal book,” says Abhilash R, Business Development Head, audiobooksindia.com, an online portal for audiobooks.
Apart from targeting the people who can not read, audiobooks can also be handy for older people whose eyesight keeps getting worse with age. Also, they are environment friendly as they do not use ink and paper.
“Audiobooks have a very niche market now. With proliferation of technology, their sales will increase in future. Also, people need to be educated about their uses,” says says Kunal Pancholi, co-founder of reado.com, a company dealing in audiobooks.