Wednesday, 26 March, 2014

The chaos of Indian book publishing

As Indian literacy and education grow rapidly, the country’s book publishing remains a chaotic mix of large international and medium and small local publishers. The book distribution system seems bottle-necked with difficulties of geographic reach and payment recoveries. University and college librarians are bribed by distributors of scholarly and technical books to build up their libraries. School principals and teachers receive bribes from textbook publishers to prescribe the right books for their students.

This is a situation that invites college students to share PDFs of widely pirated textbooks easily available on the internet. And also invites the large online platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon that offer discounts and free delivery of millions of titles catalogued online to practically every nook and cranny of a large and disorganized country. Of course publishers, distributors and booksellers lament the deep discounts and the unfair competition from the large marketplace portals citing the recent French competition laws on discounts and free delivery. At the same time many of them willingly collaborate – they are traders after all. Another outcome is the malaise and restructuring that was bound to strike the large bookstore chains in the country. Many of these issues are discussed in the current issue and we plan to write on this theme in the future.

The GlobaLocal events in Chennai and New Delhi organized by the German Book Office complemented the two major book industry events in the country this year – the World Book Fair in Delhi from 15 to 23 February and the Literature Festival in Jaipur from 17 to 21 January 2014.

Krishanu Dutta from the edit-blog page of December 2013 issue Indian Printer and Publisher

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