India market supersedes UK

India market supersedes UK

With sales of INR261bn (£2.5bn), India’s domestic books market is the sixth biggest in the world and the second-largest Anglophone territory—edging out the UK—according to figures from Nielsen Book.

Nielsen’s India Book Market Report 2015, published yesterday (14th October), is one of the first comprehensive assessments of the Indian book industry. It was conducted with the Association of Publishers in India and the Federation of Indian Publishers. Although the country has 22 official languages, English-language books make up 55% of trade book sales and the bulk of its academic market. Combined sales of English-language titles narrowly eclipse the circa £1.7bn earned by UK publishers in their home market in 2014.  

Education and academic sales are “growing at a tremendous rate”, the report states. The school books market has surged 191% since the academic year of 2007/08, rising from INR63bn (£617m) to INR186bn (£1.8bn) in 2013/14. Academic and Higher Education rose by 251%, to INR56bn (£548m), in the same period. The Indian market is weighted toward education, with 20,000 bookshops in the country specialising in education, and just 1,800 for the general trade.

Overall, the report highlights a market with huge potential, but points to a number of challenges for Indian publishers and booksellers. Piracy remains a threat, “with virtually every street in the country home to stalls selling pirated texts”. Other problems include “the fragmented nature of publishing and bookselling; a tortuous distribution system; long credit cycles that make it difficult to manage cashflows; and increases in direct costs”.