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Penguin India Launches E-books, Expects 15% Digital Rev in 3 yrs.

By Edward Nawotka

Penguin India has launched its first e-book titles. Ananth Padmanabhan, Vice-President, Sales, Penguin Books India, told The Hindu, “The idea behind this is to basically catch up on the digital model of publishing. While the current tranche consists of 240 Indian titles, which includes all the new books published in 2012, we are planning on pushing out close to 800 titles by the end of the year.” The current crop of titles include, primarily, current and backlist bestsellers.

By January 2013, he says, the company will publish all books simultaneously in digital editions and hardcover. He expects that by the end of the year, e-books will account for 5% of the company’s revenue, and 15% in three years.

At present, the books are being distributed through the major international online e-book retailers, though the company is working with local retailers to secure local distribution in prices more appropriate to the Indian market. This will happen, says Padmanabhan, when the Indian e-book market fully “develops.”

“When we look at Indian retailers, which can provide a rupee price to customers, there are a number of security audits which we have to do to make sure that there is no software piracy and digital rights management issues. We are currently in talks and hope to have something solid soon,” said Padmanabhan.

It is ironic that Penguin India has reservations about selling e-books through Indian retailers, especially considering Bowker’s eye-popping survey stats revealed at BEA that said more than 50% of Indians surveyed said they would buy an electronic book in the next year. Among major India online retailers, Flipkart has announced in May its intent to start selling e-books as “tactical” move, though it has not yet executed or presented a formal plan.

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