The major challenge that a publisher faces today is how to make a published work available across multiple platforms and to get more value out of it. Content strategy and information architecture management are new buzz words through which the publishers grapple with. To address these important issues, FICCI organised a conference -PubliCon 2014: Publishing Across Platforms - in December 2014. The conference looked into these new areas of publishing and tried to find solution of some of the challenges faced by publishers and other publishing solution providers. A report by GS Jolly. Industry at a glance...

The publishing industry in India has experienced rapid change in recent years and with current developments in the global information, communication and media industries, this rate of change is set to increase. According to industry body FICCI, the Indian publishing industry, which is worth Rs 12,000 crore, is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate of 25 percent.

The digital revolution has brought about a number of changes in the world of publishing. It has not only revolutionised publishing processes, but has also brought new model of books distribution and new method to read and interact with the books. Along with the digital revolution, there have emerged a number of ancillary industries that have changed the world view of both the publisher and the reader.

The digital revolution has enabled the creative industries, publishing services, technological innovations to become an integral part of the publishing process today. Further, existence of numerous publishing apps clearly indicates that publishing is increasingly moving towards a mobile platform. Readers now not only want to read a book; they want to interact with it. These new developments have also brought to the fore new challenges of innovation, strategy and adaptability.

Indian publishing is fast moving into an increasingly mobile environment where content needs to be created for multiple platforms. It is estimated that about 22 percent of all web content is consumed by mobile. The major challenges that publishers are facing today is how to create contents to use and reuse across multiple platforms. The challenge before the digital publishing is the creation and writing to be structured in such a way that it could be merged with various reading platforms that may emerge in future.

Publishing across platforms

To address these important issues, FICCI organised a conference, PubliCon 2014: Publishing Across Platforms in December 2014. The inaugural session deliberated into the challenges of fragmenting content across different deviced-optimised platforms.

In his inaugural address, Pawan K Varma, MP Rajya Sabha said, “Digital publishing in India is at a nascent stage. Technology is awaiting us. Internet penetration is still low. It is time to catch on the technology. Either we adopt it or are left out. If we don’t we would become relic. We should chart a path where both form of publishing can co exist.”

While, Vandana Kumari Jena (born and brought up in Daryaganj), author and secretary, Department of Land Resources, government of India lamented that trees have to be felled to get a book printed. She also showed concern that a day will come when digital publishing will take over. “Digital media,” she said, “is about to bring revolution in knowledge industry.” Rohit Kumar co-chair FICCI Publishing Committee explained what does a publisher do? Publishers are responsible for making author’s work available to public at large. The session was moderated by Urvashi Butalia, chairperson, FICCI Publishing Committee.

The plenary keynote address was delivered by Rajiv Chilaka, founder and CEO, Green Gold Animation Pvt Ltd (creator of Chhota Bheem). Speaking on the success story of Chhota Bheem, he stressed that even in animation, content is the king. “You cannot monetize without a good content. The company has tasted early failures which are way to success. Nobody can say what will succeed – what is important is keep trying,” he said.

Adaptive content – print and digital…

It is evident that we are moving into increasingly mobile environment where content needs to be created for multiple platforms. The major challenge that publishers are facing today is how to create content for multiple platforms. In this backdrop, session on Adaptive Content: Apps, Books and Visual Media was deliberated by Alok Srivastava, managing director, Cengage Learning India Pvt Ltd; Niyam Bhushan, independent professional and Sunny Nath, director –sales and business development, Aptara. The session was moderated by Rohit Kumar, co-chair, FICCI Publishing Committee and advisor Elsevier India Pvt Ltd. The adaptive learning includes production design, evaluation and success measurement, class management objectives and evaluation criteria.

Rohit Kumar elaborated the difference in print publishing and digital publishing. He said in digital publishing the layout, formats are not the same as in print. A lot of money goes into making an application compatible with technology you need. While, Alok Srivastava said, “We are moving from art of publishing to science of publishing. Increasing influence of technology has directed us to move forward and we can’t ignore the technology.” Besides, Sunny Nath mentioned the different platforms for services in publishing. He narrated the Aptara model where MPEds, PDF, e-books XML and many other platforms with content can be delivered. Aptara with over 6,000 staff creates contents which can be adapted to many digital platforms. Niyam Bhushan presented a new dimension to content delivery. He said, “Discard the content, and discover the cover. Design is not as it looks but how it works. Technology can reach to illiterate child.” He admired Pratham’s experiment where they used multiple platforms for their content

Securing content…

The transition to digital devices means greater efficiencies and cost effectiveness, but how this helps in leveraging IP and generating new revenue streams for publishers? The transition has initiated a rethinking of IP and DRM regimes in order to secure content. Laws have been enacted all over the world to aid the actual holders of copyright against infringements. A session was devoted to delve into various nuances of copyright regime in India that will link it to India’s emergence as a publishing hub in the future. The session was chaired by Aparna Sharma, director-copyright, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Ameet Datta, partner, Saikrishna & Associates; Ritika Mogha, associate advocate, SS Rana and Co Advocates and VK Kartika, publisher and chief editor, HarperCollins presented their view points.

Ritika Mogha expressed concern over digital age which is passing through a great threat to the intellectual property. She mentioned that Sachin Tendulkar’s book was available on net for free download. The encrypting and water marking technologies were discussed to deal with the dangers to Digital Rights Management. While, Ameet Datta touched upon the numerous copyright clauses which provide protection to copyright holders. Kartika suggested that clever marketing can prevent or at least minimise danger of piracy. This she said can be done by selling or giving certain add ons to the book which pirates may find it difficult to copy.

Online marketing…

Online media marketing is an excellent tool that eliminates printing and distribution costs, increases readership, boosts online sales and greatly enhance the reader’s choice for quality content. Online retail portals have multiplied recently and offer excellent opportunity for both print and online publishers to sell their content to readers whom they were unable to reach in the past. This aspect was also discussed in the last session of the programme. The session was chaired by Kailash Balani, managing director, Balani Infotech Pvt Ltd. The panelist included R Vivek, head business development, Trade Books, Flipkart India Pvt Ltd; Taru Aggarwal, MD, Business Wire India; Lipika Bhushan, chief marketing consultant, Market My Book and Rajiv Choudhry, assistant director, National Book Trust, India.

It was opined that a major market is available to explore. The panelist cautioned that brick and mortar bookshops are diminishing and may not be able to survive. Though the content is the same, the delivery has changed. Large portion of readers are sitting online. It was mentioned that children born after the year 2000 more often use on line facility. It has made possible for the authors to connect with their readers, to interact with them, get their question and answer them.

While, Lipika Bhushan said that direct relations with the customers give much bigger opportunity to promote books online. This also is a challenge. “We need to provide quality, culture, research and focus. Unless we understand the users, we cannot reach them,” she said. Rajiv Choudhry opined that online books also provide visibility. “The transition has been from landline to cordless to mobile to smart phone. We therefore have to change our delivery system to meet the demand of today,” he concluded.

All in all, the conference was very informative for the industry professionals and touched upon the major challenges in today’s scenario.



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