With the printed word considered an endangered species in much of a rapidly digitizing world, India now represents one of the best English-language book markets in the world.
“There has definitely been a huge jump in the size of the industry in terms of book sales and the number of books being published,” said Mita Kapur, the founder of Siyahi, a literary agency, who says the number of books published in English is growing by 30 percent a year.
Vikrant Mathur, associate director of Nielsen Book, India, said the volume of book sales grew by 45 percent during the first half of 2011. For the entire year, Nielsen, a global information provider, documented English-language book sales of 3.28 billion rupees – about $62 million – from more than 12 million books sold. And that is probably only a fraction of true total sales, since Nielsen only measures about 35 percent of the total market.
“Where physical books are concerned India right now is a very, very big market,” said Priyanka Malhotra, director of Full Circle Publications. “There is a whole younger generation coming up from BPOs who are starting to read in English, which is where a lot of new demand is coming from.” Online retail outfits such as Flipkart and InfiBeam have also spurred growth in the industry.
“I don’t think I could have started this anywhere else,” Mr. Davidar said. “India is the only country currently where the English-language market is growing in double digits. Everywhere else is it either flat or registering a negative growth. Unlike North America, eBooks have not penetrated to a large extent. Here they make up less than 1 percent of sales, compared to nearly 25 percent in the United States.”