Frankfurt Week: A New Report on the Indian Book Market

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With more than 90 percent of their market in educational publishing, India’s publishers report an upbeat assessment of the business.

At a book market in Mumbai. Image — Getty iStockphoto: Jedraszak

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘A Pivotal Role in Disseminating Knowledge’
In an optimistic report issued in time for Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 19 to 23) by Nielsen BookData and the Federation of Indian Publishers, the Indian print market is anticipated to reach close to US$12 billion in value by the end of 2024.

A part of the report’s intent, of course, is to demonstrate the industry’s value to the overall economy of this very large nation. At Frankfurt, you’ll find the National Book Trust of India stand at Hall 6.0, B28.

In the years 2018 to 2019, the publishing sector in India, the report tells us, contributed 145.3 billion Indian rupees to the overall economy (US$1.8 billion). The direct contribution is calculated to have been 0.08 percent of the nation’s total gross domestic product.

Pranav Gupta, joint secretary of the federation, is quoted, saying, “The Indian publishing industry is a vital part of the Indian economy and has been developing rapidly over the past few years.

Pranav Gupta

“It also contributes substantially to the country’s employment rate and plays a pivotal role in disseminating knowledge, invariably contributing to the robust development of the country’s cultured ethos.”

Several further points of interest are found in the summary.

  • India’s industry, in this assessment, counts more than 24,000 publishers in operation.
  • India’s print book market was estimated at a valuation of 720.6 billion rupees in 2019-2020 (US$8.8 billion).
  • That valuation of the market, the report says, is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 19.4 percent between 2023/2024 and 2025/2026.
  • This is a print market in which 71 percent is in the school sector, with 25 percent more for higher education. The trade segment’s contribution is rated by the report at just 4 percent.

The report cites the Indian economy’s gross domestic product as growing by 8.9 percent annually through 2021, and talks of its “post-pandemic recovery” being excellent.

Of course, caution is important here. In its September address, the World Health Organization did not call an end to the pandemic. Indeed, many cultures are warily watching numbers rise toward what is feared could be a winter resurgence of the pathogen, and even in Germany, the head of the hospital association has called for a return to an indoor mask mandate, as reported Saturday by Deutsche Welle, because normal hospital operations are being challenged.

In terms of its print output, however, the report’s summary states, “We are already ranked as the third-largest market in the world for print book publishing.

“By harnessing government help in terms of bolstering our self-reliance in this segment and reaping the benefits of our position as the world’s second-biggest economy in English-speaking nations, India could indeed eventually become the publishing hub if the endeavors of the industry’s multiple stakeholders are closely allied in the appropriate direction.”

To the point of the market’s demographic characteristics, this graphic is of some assistance:

Image: Federtation of Indian Publishers

Several points about challenges to this specific industry are also of use, not least because we see in these points some reflection of the “cost of doing business” challenges found in so many world publishing markets today.

“There have always been hidden and obvious obstacles to publishing in India,” we read in the executive summary, “but distribution has always been the biggest one.

“This difficulty is at the heart of the fundamental problem of erratic cash flow, which emerges from having an extended credit cycle. Similar variations in the price of raw materials used in production in the publishing industry must also be considered.

“This includes an increase in the price of paper and pulp, which is a component of production costs and raw materials. Publishers have amassed losses as a result of the huge increase in it compared to the slight increase in book prices, making their condition in India far from optimal.”

Nevertheless, the report asserts that “In India, all three publishing market segments—schoolbooks, higher education, and trade books—have bright prospects.”

Vikrant Mathur

Vikrant Mathur, the executive director of Nielsen BookData India, says, “The India Book Market Report 2022 highlights the potential of print book publishing in India.

“It provides a deeper understanding of the market, its economic contribution to the Indian economy and makes recommendations to help bring efficiencies to the India publishing sector.

“Nielsen BookData is confident that this report will prove insightful and valuable for industry stakeholders, not just in India but also to those looking to invest in India.”

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of the new India Book Market Report 2022, you can be in touch with bookindia@nielseniq.com or fippresident@gmail.com .


More from Publishing Perspectives on academic and scholarly publishing is here, and more on the Indian market is here.

More from us on the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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