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“FICCI Can Play an Important Role in the Creation of Robust Public Library System in India,” says Sumeet Gupta, its Publishing Head

Team YS
28th Aug 2012
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Publishing Sector Survey, Frankfurt Book Fair, Digital Publishing Figure in FICCI’s Publishing Agenda

Sumeet Gupta, Head – Publishing, FICCI, in exclusive chat on PubliCon 2012

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is holding PubliCon 2012, the second year of the publishing conference it had inaugurated last year. Sumeet Gupta, Head – Publishing, FICCI, gives an overview of the conference in this conversation with YourStory.in. As an industry body, FICCI represents the voice of the industry to the government and this foray into publishing means FICCI will actively take the concerns of publishing sector to the government. PubliCon 2012 focuses on digital publishing, copyright issues, and technology in education. It promises to be exciting for publishing sector executives as well as for others generally interested in understanding publishing trends in India. To expand its activities related to publishing further, FICCI will host a business session at Frankfurt Book Fair this year. FICCI also is planning a survey of publishing sector, starting from NCR Region and expanding later to India. It also wants to rope in basha publishers as part of its publishing committee.

What is the highlight of PubliCon 2012? What was the common take away from the inaugural PubliCon in 2011?

Last year, FICCI for the first time ventured into publishing domain. In order to address the needs of publishing industry, we created annual programme PubliCon. Last year, PubliCon 2011, was on the theme “business of publishing”, where we discussed various issues like “National Book Promotion Policy”, “Export potential of Indian publishing industry”, “IPR issues” etc. Carrying this initiative forward, the theme for this year is “Digital Publishing”. The complete thrust this year is on digital. Some of the key highlights this year would be:

• Creating 360 degree content

• Emerging content platforms

• Publishing industry and the amended Copyright Bill

• Monetising content in digital age

• Managing distribution in digital age

• Transforming education: Digital content for classrooms

How does FICCI generally contribute to the publishing sector in India? How many publishers are members of FICCI?

Publishing industry in India has tremendous potential. In order to address the issues of publishing community, FICCI for the first time has instituted Publishing Committee. The committee is Chaired by Ms Urvashi Butalia, Director, Zubaan and Co- Chaired by Mr. Himanshu Gupta, Joint Managing Director, S Chand Group. It comprises of various stakeholders from the industry. We have also created an annual programme, PubliCon, which is a platform to meet industry experts, raise policy & trade issues, network, ideate, and explore business possibilities. Currently the FICCI Publishing Committee includes Zubaan, Federation of Indian Publishers, Harper Collins India, The Federation of Publishers and Booksellers Association of India, Pratham Books, Reed Elsevier India Pvt. Ltd., Orient Blackswan Pvt. Ltd., Cambridge University Press, Ratna Sagar Pvt. Ltd., Westland Ltd., S. Chand Group, Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., Association of Publishers in India and Flipkart.

Digital era in Indian publishing – we are just at the cusp. How do you see this shaping up Indian publishing?

In India, the publishing industry is constituted in two independent blocks with completely different population dynamics—the metropolitan centres and the emerging urban centres. From Tier 1 cities the focus is now shifting to Tier II and III cities which are experiencing rapid urbanisation with ever greater economic growth. However, with internet penetration below double digits, these centres will be the major consumer of printed material for some time to come. On the other hand, the major urban centres in India (the metropolitan cities) will be the major consumers of e-content. With increased number of tablets, handhelds, e readers; the tech savvy youngsters in metros are going to drive the digital publishing. In long run, Indian market will witness a fair mix of print and digital publishing.

How is education sector going to be affected by digital publishing? Already Smart Schools that have audiovisual presentations, videos, and digital content are in place. Will the sweep of digital across education be complete?

With tech savvy children, flipping pages on their iPads, the use of educational content is set for a complete transformation. Schools cannot relegate the digital age to the background. There are lot of companies who are focussing on creating digital content for schools. In terms of business, it’s is a good opportunity. In view of these developments, both in India and the West, we have created a special session at PubliCon 2012, “Transforming Education – Digital Content for Classroom”. Speakers included key school publishers in India and some technology companies who are active in provide different platform to teaching.

How is the publishing market in India in FICCI’s view and what can be made to make it better in terms of preserving the cultural fabric of India?

The publishing industry in India is one of the largest in the world. The sector has tremendous potential, both in terms of domestic sale and international exports. It is estimated that the Indian publishing industry is worth INR 12,000 crores. Currently the Indian publishing industry is growing at a CAGR of 30% and is ranked third in English language publishing after the US & UK. Indian industry produces approximately over 90,000 titles published every year.

In terms of the cultural fabric of India, the publishing industry has a lot to offer to the world. In India, publishing takes place in more than 20 languages, each having its unique characteristics. The literature of various Indian languages is quite rich, having lot of cultural values associated. Translation of Indian literature abroad is definitely going to be an opportunity for Indian publishers.

How does FICCI play a role in advising the Government on bringing about positive changes in the publishing sector?

From its inception, FICCI has played a key role in liaising with the government on important policy issues. Being a part of the multi-cultural economic system, FICCI has always strived for the development and promotion of India. For 85 years we have carried forward the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi in all spheres of our work. FICCI is keen to work on important issue concerning the publishing industry in India. Besides addressing the trade aspects and contributing to overall development of the sector, FICCI can play an important role in the “Creation of Robust Public Library System” in India.

Indian publishing market is huge and growing. English language publishing is highly visible and language (or basha) publishing enjoys a niche audience. Any FICCI plans to help basha publishers go global?

The FICCI Publishing Committee comprises of English language publishers, and aspires to include Indian language publishers in the future. As publishing in Indian language is non-homogenous and is divided according to region and language, there is a need to assess the sector in its totality and then advance into tracking and incorporating other Indian language publishers within the ambit and scope of FICCI. We plan to foray into this difficult terrain of surveying the sector. We aim to begin with a survey of the publishing industry in Delhi and NCR region. Later, we will expand it to other publishing clusters in India.

What gave birth to PubliCon and its future agenda?

Indian Publishing Industry has tremendous potential. There are regional associations, which are working for the cause of this sector. But FICCI is the only national chamber in India to have an active Publishing Committee. Concerns for the publishing sector, brought the idea of instituting a platform where key stakeholders can share views and concerns of the sectors. Through PubliCon, FICCI aims to connect this important sector to the policymakers of the country to address key regulatory issues, create trade opportunities, learn and share best practices; thus providing overall fillip to the sector.

Some of the areas on which we are currently working on are following:

• Public Library System in India

• Trade opportunities for Indian Publishers

• Capacity building programmes

• Study of Indian publishing industry

• Educational and Children publishing

I would also like to share that FICCI for the first time is organizing business session at Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) 2012. This session is part of main agenda of the Conference at FBF. The session will showcase the promise and potential of Indian publishing industry and will explore trade opportunities. We intend to take this initiative to other festivals as well.

 

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