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India progressing in e-book market
India progressing in e-book market
By: iMedia News Bureau

They say “A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend”

Book lovers in India have been indulging in their passion for reading all the more, demonstrated by the steep rise in book sales. The domestic book market grew by an impressive 45 % in volume and 40% in value terms during the first half of 2011. India is the world's third-largest book market and with rise in literacy rate, the non-academic book market in India is growing at a rate of around 15 per cent which itself shows the popularity of printed books here.

What about the e-book market? Two years back, India was in a nascent stage of the e-book market. But, current scenario paints a different picture. New technology creates a new reader. Digital books have techno enthusiasts who are reading them on a regular basis.

Also, the mobile market in India is huge, and publishers are looking for ways to tap that. Touted as a tech marvel, the e-reader allows you to carry an entire library in a single device. Globally, almost all paperbacks are being converted into e-books. In fact, there's a new set of authors that only caters to the e-book market. A suitable example of which is, self-published crime novelist John Locke, who sold one million copies of his e-book Saving Rachel through the Kindle store on Amazon.

There are various e-book readers available in the country. These include Infibeam's Pi, Wink (EC Media International) and Amazon's Kindle, which are priced between Rs 7,000 and Rs 15,000

The e-book industry has grown from $78 million in sales in 2008 to $1.7 billion in 2011, according to Albert Greco, a book industry expert at Fordham University. He has estimated e-book sales will be $3.55 billion in 2012. Online retailer Amazon.com Inc has about 65 percent of the e-book market, according to Cowen & Co estimates.

According to Bowker Market Research’s Global eBook Monitor, the market for e-books is set for a rapid increase in India. Over 50 percent of respondents from the country are likely to buy an e-book in the next six months, a prediction that would double the number of e-book buyers in India

A small team at Penguin India's New Delhi office is agog with excitement as the publishing powerhouse - with 250 titles every year - waits for its E-moment - launch of the first set of 150 e-books slated for this month.

Not just Penguin, other Indian book publishers are taking the risk to launch e-books to try out the potential of this virgin market at a local level. Top publishing houses like Harper Collins and Amar Chitra Katha are all expected to release their first set of e-books within the next six months.

Today, publishers are aggressively converting books into e-books. Harper Collins India, the Indian subsidiary of American publishing  is all geared up to launch its first e-book this year.

Home-grown publishers such as Amar Chitra Katha - the creators of Jataka and Birbal tales - are also rolling the dice as they prepare to foray into the e-book market. The company is currently creating e-books for the Apple platform, but soon plans to tie-up with other vendors. Penguin, India's largest book publisher by revenue will launch its e-books across platforms like Kobo, Nook, Kindle and iPad.

                   

India's publishing industry is growing at a compounded rate of 30% annually and it is expected to grow at the same pace over the next three years, says industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry(FICCI). It ranks behind the US and the UK in English-language publishing when measured in number of title.

But, there are a whole lot of people who come from old school of thought and believe that pleasure of holding a book and engrossing into it by smelling the aroma of fresh pages cannot be experienced via e-book reader.