E-Books in India: The Present and Future


With the launch of Amazon kindle in India, clearly e-books for the first time are getting attention by publishers as well as readers. There is a lot speculation going on e-book market in India. Someone is saying that it will pick like ecommerce has picked up. I don’t agree.

Kindle Books-001

Present situation of EBooks in India: an Analysis

EBooks phenomenon has been unsuccessful in India, everyone talks of it, but no one buys it. Why? Very simple, nobody told them (readers) to buy.

Are eBooks better than printed books? In US-UK, eBooks sale more than printed books, this clearly shows eBooks are worthy.

So, who pushed / evangelized the eBook concept to readers there ? Amazon, Apple, Google, Nook, kobo, Adobe. Western people do listen to their technology companies, because they have certainly changed their lives.

So again coming back to original question – why eBook has been a flop show in India? Why nobody told the readers here to switch to eBooks?

Here is my analysis:

  • Indian Publishers don’t understand technology (in fact they hate technology, I don’t know why). So they were not interested in eBooks.
  • Schools/Colleges don’t want their students to use eBooks. It’s very new concept to them. They don’t like their students to use gadgets (tablets) extensively. E-learning companies can throw some light on readiness of school / college principals on use of technology.
  • Governments (ministers & secretaries) don’t know that eBook exists at all.
  • Parents are more bothered about the marks of their kids. They want their child to remember things, not analyze things. They believe tablets are for entertainment. It’s a diversion for their kids.
  • Now what about readers? Why they didn’t ask for eBooks? I found only reason – Readers here like the smell of printed books. I don’t know what kind of spiritual smell is there, which western people don’t get.

So, what is the future of EBooks in India?

My opinion is very clear; it (eBooks consumption in India) will take its own sweet time. Neither publishers/schools/parents/readers are in hurry. By 2016, US publishers will have 50% of their revenue through its eBook sales (currently it is at 20%). By 2016, I expect eBook sales in India; will not be more than 10-20% of total sales. Amazon will play a very important role here.

Game Changers (factors which can trigger eBook consumption)

  1. Price of eBooks
  2. Push from Government/Schools/Colleges /Corporate

EBooks can’t be priced in the same range of printed books. It has to be at least 40-70% cheaper, than the discounted price of printed books.

Many publishers argue that with the growth of eBook sales, their printed sales will come down, and finally they will make loss. I totally disagree. Till now, publishing industry is totally dependent on distribution. Many good books have not reached to masses because of poor distribution infrastructure in India. EBooks don’t have that issue.

Push from institutions is equally important. Readers want some angel to come and tell them – hey why don’t you buy eBook, it’s cheaper, better and reading is more social. Your experience of reading will be much more than reading dead tree books.

As, publisher of books & eBooks , we have put our bets on eBooks. Let’s hope for the best.

I would like to hear more from readers, what they think of “eBook phenomenon in India” ?

[About the Author: Bhishm is Co-founder of AuthorZilla (Global Publisher for eBooks). His interest lies in reading and writing. He can be reached at [email protected]]

  1. Rajeshy Singh says

    I think ebook is good thing but it can’t be replaced totally by printed books. We mostly use common places like class room, libraries for reading. Mostly interaction, meeting occurs at these places. Sometimes discussions happens for longer durations. These things cannot be easily replaced. Playing games, chat and using social networking is one thing and reading books are different. lastly reading a novel of 300 pages took almost 8-10 hours, using laptop for such duration is not a good idea.

  2. @newcelona says

    Thanks for sharing your view, most of the points you mention are not particular for India, most non english speaking countries face similar barriersbto eBook introduction.
    The key point is that small/medium publishers do not have the resources to invest in a market which still has no return, that means that the availability of titles in other languages than english is still escarce and this makes eBook adoption even slower.

  3. Samir Shah says

    There are two more reasons for ebooks to accelerate in India.

    1) Timely delivery

    Ebooks ensure a better timely delivery of New York Times bestsellers which may otherwise take two months in paper form.

    2) Indian Languages

    Indian Languages have been a step-child of paper publishing. This will change with ebooks.

  4. jitendra says

    ebooks are easy to read and handle especially while travelling
    for me that is the best part with ebooks
    many ebooks are free so that again is an advantage

  5. Random Passer-By says

    You run a publishing company? Here’s a new concept for you: copy-edit.

  6. Eos Buddy says

    I think you’ve raised a very good point by your post. I wish to chime in with my opinion here that the trouble with Indian psyche is that it is suspicious of all new technologies making adoption an enigma in the subcontinent (there are many folks who prefer to make a style statment with the type of books they buy/keep on their bookshelves – this whim takes a beating with the ebook format). By far, in my opinion, the best advantage of the digital formats of books is the amenity to search the document for the relevant keywords (instead of skimming some page at the end). (ebooks further this amenity in the form of perhaps providing a way to tag books with similar content and provide a unified search through many books – ideal for researchers and their ilk). That said, I know of people who have been thrust into the pdf format of articles/papers much earlier than common folks (way back in 1994) but still need a hard copy to read…

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