When Amazon introduced its first version of Kindle in 2007, many had predicted an end for the traditional publishing industry. Although e-book readers did give a tough competition to paper versions, paper seems to be back in vogue nearly a decade since e-books were introduced. Earlier this year, Financial Times reported that developed markets were seeing a surge in book sales, as sales for e-versions declined.
According to data from Publishers Association, US sales of paperback books were up almost 8%, hardcovers rose about 4% and children’s books surged 16%. Although India is on a similar track—Nielsen estimates the sector to grow at an average compound annual growth rate of 19.3% till 2020—Bloomberg analysis highlights that sales tell a completely different story than developed economies. The book economy, estimated to be worth $6.76 billion, is not only a testament to India’s growth, but also to its rising ambitions.
More important, rising education levels and an increase in enrolments have significantly contributed to book sales across the country, this accounts for 72% of the market share followed by 22% for higher education. A majority of sales may be centered around school and higher education texts, but the country is also finding a taste for literary works. This is particularly evident from the attendance at literature festivals. The Jaipur Lit fest, for instance, has seen attendance rise from a couple of thousand in 2008 to 350,000 in 2017. And, e-commerce with its wide distribution channels is contributing to this growth.
While the trend is certainly expected to hold in the coming years, it may give way to electron versions. The Indian e-book market is still at a nascent stage, the increasing smartphones is expected to give a major fillip to reading. Besides, with companies vying for local language readership this would increase book sales be it digital or paper. As long as there are those who cannot abandon the touch and feel of paper there would be enough paper books to read. If anything digital versions would contribute to the rise of paper as more work gets published.