While the escalating numbers on sales charts for the online book market are key points in possibly propelling a natural progression of books from paper to electronic format, there are a few other equally decisive factors that could take the Indian publishing industry by storm. Going by statistics provided by the hardware lobby, Manufacturers Association of IT industry, there has been a staggering increase in smartphone (8%) and tablet (expected to grow 100% from the current 300, 000 users) sales in India over the past year, and this is likely to provide a steady hinge for the success of the e-book market. Further, the Indian mobile market is huge and publishers are looking to tap into it effectively, opening up a whole new conduit for strategic sales and marketing for digitized book content.
It is also important to take note of the fact that while apps and e-books are assumed to be cost-effective for their audiences, big publishing houses are well on the road to achieving success by implementing expensive digital warehousing, data storage and maintenance programs to allow for supplemental e-text releases following the success of print versions.
Today, some of the biggest names in the Indian publishing market, like Penguin, Harper Collins, and even Amar Chitra Katha are prepping to foray into the e-book market, for specific platforms, in tie-ups with Apple, Kindle, Nook, iPad and Kobo. But they are not ruling out the fact that India is primarily a traditional readers market, with aficionados of the written word who swear by the charms of the look, feel and smell of printed books. This could mean two things: the emergence of the digitized book market won’t significantly slow down the sales of prints, and the digitized book market could be driven towards an on-demand set up for additional revenue generation and wider content availability leading to greater ROIs.
While all these factors are applicable in the non-academic market, digitization of text books is at a rather nascent stage in India and it appears it will be long before mainstream schools and universities embrace the technology without qualms. When Apple launched an app for digitized textbooks recently, it saw a whopping 350,000 downloads across the globe in just the first three days. But in India, to ensure that e-text books are well and widely accepted by school going children, a lot of structural reform needs to take place in order to provide every child with access to the relevant technology. However, the positive side of this realm – digitized textbooks – is that e-text books offer in-built evaluation features as a bonus to the lessons and chapters. Tests that can easily be downloaded provide ample scope for measuring the students progress, thus simplifying the traditional classroom assessment procedures in place.
Last but certainly not the least, self-publishing of e-books is a phenomenon that is swiftly gathering momentum in the West, and the Indian market will be influenced heavily by it if the growth in anyway is a reflection of its own readership.