The prospects of the Indian academic publishing industry have never seemed brighter. India is witnessing a growing interest in the international circuits for the Indian customer base. This has resulted in several international publishing houses setting up a base in this country (see: Why are international book publishers coming to India). There are a number of opportunities for academic publishers in India as well.
What does the future hold for the academic publishing business in India?
The Academic Publishing Industry Will Become More Organised
The Indian publishing industry is a beast that no one has been able to capture. For one, no one can seem to agree on the size of the industry. The estimated figures swing between Rs. 5000 Crore to Rs. 12000 Crore. This is a problem that several old established industries faced, including the film industry. If it was not a proper business, it was not organised as such. Publishing a book was something that was either an intellectual pursuit or very low quality entertainment. There was nothing in between.
Even in the academic publishing industry, there were two factions. There were government-approved and high quality publishers of textbooks, or there were publications out to make money. The latter were small unregistered companies that did not follow quality guidelines for content or production. Their aim was to produce cheaply, quickly and and focus on a small local market. These publishers would not apply for an ISBN number because their market did not require it. ISBN number is usually a good metric to calculate how many books are being published in a country but since so many books have been published without one, this is why there is no clear idea of the size of the industry.
The entry of the international publishing companies into the Indian academic print industry changed that. These publishers are thorough and organised. They follow international best practices which includes proper paperwork and proper panel reviews. Because their content and quality are superior to the locally produced books, they provide tough competition to the local publishers.
The smaller publishing companies that were operating under the radar will need to clean up their act considering the current war against black money that the government is waging. Those who can accomplish that will find out that they need to follow the same standards as the rest of the publishers. As a result, the Indian academic publishing industry will become more organised and therefore more transparent.
The Indian Academic Publishing Industry Might See Power Blocks Emerging
The academic publishing industry of the world has 5 power players who control most of the market. These giants have more or less complete monopoly in the market. Smaller publishing houses have been either been taken over or driven out of business by them.
The academic book publishing industry of India has no such power blocks because of its disorganised nature. This might be something that will change in the near future. With India opening its doors to international corporations, these power players have established a presence. Whether it is these corporate giants that will consume the smaller players or if the Indian academic publishers will provide tough competition remains to be seen. However, we are bound to see a power struggle with a few strong contenders emerging victorious. The flat landscape of the Indian academic publishing industry is going to be disrupted.
The Academic Publishing Industry In India Can Only Grow Bigger
If you look at the numbers, India has a very low per capita book consumption. The major reasons for this were low literacy and disposable income, and to some extent non-availability of books. Expensive books in English would not sell because of the first two factors, causing distributors to not sell it in the market. With changing times, education is becoming more and more important. Literacy is beginning to be emphasised and higher education is being sought by people who would not have considered it an asset in the past.
The reason for this is the growing population which leads to more competition in the job market. In the past, people could find jobs paying a decent wage after passing class 8. As the competition grew, completing schooling became necessary. In today’s job market, even a graduate degree is no guarantee of obtaining a job. Technical or professional training might ensure you a job but not always. This is resulting in people going for more specialised education. In addition to this, development in Science and Technology is creating areas of specialisation that did not exist as recently as a decade ago. The education sector is racing ahead, and creating a huge supply for academic literature in its wake.
Due to its massive population, numbers get amplified in this country. Even with a small percentage of people that are buying academic books, we are still quite a huge market. A market that is by no means saturated. As the need for academic books grows, the academic publishing industry is going to see a massive rise in demand. It is the anticipation of this demand that is bringing foreign publishers to our shores. However, Indian academic publishers might find themselves better prepared for it considering that they already know the ins and outs of this industry.
The Indian Academic Publishing Industry Will Benefit From The Corporate Social Responsibility Funding
As pointed out in another post, the new Companies Act 2013 has brought a new opportunity in the field of research and development (see: What is the state of the Indian book publishing industry). Companies earning over a certain amount now need to put in a percentage of their profits into social responsibility projects. One of the activities the act mentions is research and technology. Essentially, companies can fund research institutes as part of their social responsibility funding. Any such funding received by the institutes can be tax-free.
This is going to give a boost to the research and development that is happening in the country. This increased funding will obviously lead to more innovative and original research. The findings and dissertations will eventually need to be published. This is where the Indian business of academic publishing will find an opportunity to shine. If they can clean up their reputation and put strict peer review methods in place, there is going to be a lot of business coming their way.
The Indian academic publishing industry is peaking at the right time to take advantage of the dipping sales of books internationally and the growing demand in India. The growth is further fuelled by international publishing houses coming to India. Additionally, internal developments like demonetisation to eradicate corruption, and the Companies Act have also created the right environment for the industry of academic publishing in India to bloom to its full potential. It remains to be seen which companies will be able to make the most of it and which ones will lose out to globalisation.