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India to See 25% eBook Sales Inside of Three Years?

4643765712_0225d7c096_oWith ebooks only making real inroads in the US and UK markets, it would be easy to write off the rest of the world as small potatoes.

But digital publishing optimists in India would disagree. Citing unnamed experts, The Asia Age makes a claim that ebooks could account for a quarter of the local book market in only a few years:

Industry reports claim that in the next two to three years, ebooks could constitute about 25 per cent of the total book sales in India. The major push for this kind of growth, according to experts, is the penetration of smartphones and mobile data.

Explaining this trend, Westland publishers CEO Gautam Padmanabhan said, “Although the e-book market is at a very nascent stage, it has the potential to grow into something very significant. One of the factors that we as publishers see triggering this growth is definitely the high-level penetration of smartphone along with significant innovations in technology to make the reach possible. While in the US almost 30 per cent of the market is via ebooks, in India it is merely 5 per cent.”

This is a bold prediction, and I’m still looking into it. But it doesn’t strike me as a good possibility.

To go from 5% to 25% in only three years would require that ebook sales almost double year over year for the next three years, which is the kind of growth that we’ve only seen in the US ebook market. Even in the UK, which is the next most developed ebook market, never saw a growth rate that good.

But India, with its high smartphone penetration, could still pull it off. They have an excess of potential ereading devices, a population of over a billion, no fixed price book law to slow the market down, and a well-developed local digital publishing industry (Adobe is just one of the companies with offices in India).

In three years we could be reading about India as the next major ebook market.

(hat tip to Teleread, which beat me to the story)

image by MissMessie

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SteveHut November 11, 2015 um 2:02 pm

It would require a super-cheap/low end ereader(in the Raspberry Pi price range). Amazon’s $50 Fire is the closest thing currently to a mass market device. I’m guessing a few smart engineers could create a very inexpensive eInk-type reader designed for the third world. It should be approx. 6 to 7 inch screen, optional solar panel on the back for recharging, a Micro SD card for storage and support EPUB/Mobi. 😉

Nate Hoffelder November 11, 2015 um 5:25 pm

Nah, smartphones have already replaced ereaders as the preferred reading device. So what the market really needs is a killer app.

Destination Infinity November 12, 2015 um 3:00 am

People, like me, are discovering the convenience of ebooks. I cannot live without Text to Speech, which enabled me to read so much in the recent times, in spite of looking at the computer monitor for the entire day (work-related). Time is a major issue, at least for working urban Indians, as there is no regulation in work timings here and people get so tired that they are not able to even watch a movie, forget reading a book!

Mark Williams – The International Indie Author November 12, 2015 um 8:30 am

This is entirely in keeping with my predictions for India. Given the restrictions on accessing the China market there is no question that India is the next ebook gold rush, and savvy indie authors are staking their claims now.

The US expansion of e-reading was driven by expensive e-reading devices, not smartphones, which gives India a huge advantage.

Even without ebooks taking off, India has this year pushed Britain into third place as the largest English-language book market, and is now the sixth largest book market in the world..

Smartphone penetration in India may be small in percentage terms, but with populations this size small percentages can reap huge dividends.

Already India has more people online than there are men, women and children in the USA, and that’s only about 25% compared to 80%+ for the US. 50 million people in India joined the smartphone brigade in just the past six months.

The key impediments to ebook expansion right now are a) availability (no Apple iBooks here, Kobo is a virtal non-player, Flipkart and Infibeam don’t know what they want to do), and b) the ability to pay (Amazon’s great KU deal is irrelevant if you haven’t got a bank card to pay).

Domestic players like Dailyhunt and Rockstand get this and have carrier billing so consumers without bank cards can still buy ebooks using their cash-bought phone credit.

Until the big western retailers get their act together on payments this will hinder ebook take-up from our side of the fence. But a safe bet local players and players from Asia will run with that baton, just as Dailyhunt and Rockstand are doing now.
do what the western giants won’t.

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 11/9-11/13 – Publishing Trends November 13, 2015 um 12:01 pm

[…] Is it possible that ebooks will go from 5% to 25% of India’s total book sales in the next two to three years? […]

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