New (possible) facts about the Indian book market
In January, the second meeting of Jaipur BookMark, the professional publishing platform which runs in parallel to the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in India, took place. Those who organise the platform commission research in order to inform debate at this event. The research findings concluded that the book industry in India is worth some $20 billion, although other analysts say that a more reasonable and likely estimate would put the Indian publishing market at $1 or $2 billion. Nevertheless, India is clearly a huge and therefore very attractive market for UK publishers, as English is the first language of education in India and therefore almost all educated Indians are able to read books in it.
The authors of the research were possibly on firmer ground when they stated that in India e-book sales have fallen for the first time since e-books became popularly available, perhaps by as much as 20%. This is in line with some of the statistics produced in other parts of the world, including the USA. (It should be noted that these are figures by value, not volume, and all e-book statistics are controversial.)
Literacy continues to be a hot topic in India, and the need for a National Reading Policy and whether such a policy would be viable was debated. Addressing the topic of libraries and their role as public institutions with the ability to foster a reading culture for those who don’t have the privileges of birth and wealth, Dipali Khanna, Director of the IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts), said that she would like expenditure on the Centre’s acquisitions to be decided by the general public and not left to a few authors and researchers.
Jaipur BookMark announced its intention to sponsor a new book prize: the Oxford Book Store Prize for Best Book Cover, ‘which will recognize and celebrate the extraordinary work of illustrators, designers and publishers throughout India’. The first winner will be announced at the next Jaipur BookMark, planned to take place in January 2016. A more detailed account of the event by clicking here.