• Thursday, August 11, 2022

Bengali Publications witnessed a skyrocketing hike in its prices

on Apr 21, 2022

Prices of Bengali Publications have increased over the last few months. It’s been skyrocketing as there's a massive rise in prices in input costs like paper, ink, binding materials - and higher transportation costs. It is been extremely difficult for book lovers as they are finding it difficult to get their hands on books. In some cases, the jump in prices is almost 100%, thus, the Bengali publishing industry is dealing with a body blow. It caters largely to a price-sensitive market, henceforth, it’s been struggling for publishers. 

Apprehensive that expensive books may be unaffordable to a lot of readers, several publishers skipped the traditional Poila Baisakh launch this year and deferred publication till the next book fair. 

Bengali textbooks for the current academic year are still largely unaffected because they were printed last year. “But the ones that are now going to print will be much costlier and affect students in the next academic year,” said Sandip Roy of Print Trackers, a textbook publisher.

“Bengali books are always cheaper compared to books in other languages, keeping in mind the culture of the city where a book is much more than a commodity. But with the steep escalation of input costs, it is now impossible not to raise the price of the books. We have been forced to raise prices by 50%. Some publishers have raised it by 100% but we have decided to absorb the impact of the onslaught as much as possible,” said Sudhanshu Dey, owner of Deys’ Publishers and president of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild (PBG).

Pritam Sengupta, the publisher of Bhasha and owner of readbengalibooks.com, expressed her sorrow that it was getting increasingly difficult for them to fix the prices of books since the cost of paper was changing almost on a daily basis.

“The paper we used to buy at Rs 1,700 per kg earlier now costs Rs 2,600. Besides, we are paying 12% GST on paper and 18% GST on printing. All these have a spiraling effect on the production of books. But small publishers like us are trying to reduce our profit margin to make books affordable for readers,” said Sengupta.

Tridib Chatterjee of Patra Bharati pointed out that most publishers also absorb the 12% GST on royalty for writers. “Even though the GST on royalty is to be paid by the writers, we can’t ask them to pay it. So, this also gets added to the production cost,” he said.

The record rise in input costs has led to a steep hike in the prices of books over the last few months, taking them out of the reach of readers, says publishers. Many publishers have been forced to raise prices by 50% to 100%, even after absorbing much of the impact of the price rise as much as possible. “The reading habit is already on the wane. If we are forced to raise the prices of books by 100%, they will be unaffordable to most readers. But the current circumstances are forcing us to do that only,” said Anil Acharya of Anustup, who called the situation an “onslaught on civilization”. Acharya is also concerned about the fate of numerous little magazines. “Most of these magazines just cannot sustain themselves. It will be an unfortunate outcome,” he added.

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