Fifth edition of PubliCon held on November 20, 2015 at FICCI, focused on Publishing Ecosystem, specially emphasising digital printing and the changes in book distribution models; issues of piracy and infringement of copyright in publishing; and print and publishing outsource business in India. A report by GS Jolly, deputy editor, All About Book Publishing (ABP).

Publishing industry in India is on the threshold of new era in print and digital communication technology. In order to address the issues in publishing industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) instituted an annual programme ‘PubliCon’ as a platform to bring industry experts together, raise policy & trade issues, network, ideate, and explore business possibilities. FICCI recently organised the 5th edition of PubliCon 2015: The Publishing Ecosystem, on November 20, 2015 at FICCI, New Delhi.

In his welcome address, Dr Arvind Prasad, director general, FICCI, painted a very optimistic picture of the Indian publishing industry. Speaking on the “Impact of Publishing on Economy,” he opined that the publishing industry is growing at the rate of 12 percent. Digital technology is at its height to the extent that eighty percent of Apple applications are prepared in India. The doubt of digital onslaught taking over the paper book is unfounded. He said, “Digital books account for only 20 percent while print publication is more than seventy percent of the book production in India. Internet reach is very limited. Keeping in view the size of the country, print publication will continue to flourish.”

The session was also addressed by Vikrant Mathur, director - Book Practice, Nielsen India who talked about impact of publishing on economy. Mathur observed that scarcity of data is a hindrance in giving a true and clear picture of the industry. He briefly presented the findings of Indian Book Market Survey conducted in 2015. The key areas explored included publishing landscape; government policies and its implications on the industry; state of education; estimation of market size; book retailing in India; and Indian consumer and digital environment.

The presentation gave some enthusiastic informatio n about how big is the Indian industry. He stated that Indian publishing industry is R s 260.6 bil l ion as against the much hyped Indian film industry which is only Rs 125 billion. The scope of Indian publishing can be measured by the fact that there are 259 million students enrolled in 2013-14. The survey showed the pleasure of reading is growing among the readers. He also quoted some other figures which are signs of a healthy Indian book publishing industry.

Baldeo Bhai Sharma, chairman, National Book Trust, India said that the nation has a very old tradition in publishing. He informed that a new chapter has started in NBT with signing of an MoU with C-DAC/W3C which will enable NBT to act as a bridge between digital publishing technology innovators and end users like publishers. He mentioned that under the partnership, C-DAC will create standardisation of Indian language publishing. It will also enable NBT to help in getting inputs and feedback of the requirements of Indian publishers for the global community.

He believed that both print and non-print books will exist side by side. Readership of newspapers has increased in spite of availability of digital form of books. He said looking at the vastness of the country, technology is not everywhere and the gap is being filled by printed books. Publishing, he said, is not only business, it is a noble cause. He opined that if books are made affordable then it can reach a vast majority of people.

Rohit Kumar, co-chair, FICCI Publishing Committee and advisor, Reed Elsevier India, said that price of books in India is lowest in the world which could be one of the reasons behind the diminishing value of the sector. We need to think of the right value of books. He expressed that publishers are in business of spreading knowledge. When a book is gifted it is not a book gifted but a relationship created. He also mentioned that publishers in India are dedicated to spread knowledge more than merely doing business.

Session 1 was devoted to Digital Printing and the Changes in Book Distribution Models. The session was chaired by Manisha Chaudhry, head, Content Development, Pratham Books. Vikas Gupta, managing director, Wiley India, and Sandeep Dua, senior vice president, Repro India Limited made their presentations. It was expounded that with the coming of digital technology, distribution models are seeing new dimensions.

Print On Demand technology has made possible to print only the number of copies required at a given point of time. It also reduces the freight costs which are very high in publishing economics. It was suggested that there is a need to create a model where POD and conventional publishing of books can co-exist.

Session 2 was devoted to “The Need for Skill Development in Publishing.” Skill development is an important priority of the government today. It is estimated that the global economy would require 3.3 million workforce by 2020. India is the only country to have a labour surplus of 47 million during the coming decade. It was felt that there is a huge gap in the publishing sector. The session explored the scope of skill development in publishing taking into account the skill development initiative of the Government of India.

Skill and publishing will complement each other, opined Sunil Garg, general secretary of All India Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP). Praveen Singh, business head, MBD Group was of the view that new recruits can be trained to be the leaders in the skill they are trained. On the job learning is the best skill development programme. We have 2.3 percent trained and skilled work force as compared to other countries where the skilled workforce is more than 60 percent. Upgrading the skills while on job was also stressed.

Session 3 dealt with “Issues of Piracy and Infringement of Copyright in Publishing.” Piracy and counterfeit are global problems that affect a number of sectors. Translation to digital devices and new models of content distribution have initiated a rethinking of IP and DRM regimes. The latest estimate of ICC BASCAP indicates that the total global value of counterfeit and piracy could reach a staggering USD 1.7 trillion by this year. Piracy and counterfeit in books is not far behind. Indian Copyright Act is robust enough to safeguard the interests of the content creators by providing a secure IP framework.

Then problem lies in the implementation of copyright rules. The session discussed the problems pertaining to execution of the copyright framework. Shilpi Jha, senior legal counsel, USPTO opined that internet is a major source of copyright infringement. Sahil Sethi, sr. associate, Saikrishna Associates; Ashok Gupta, president, FIP and Karthika VK of HarperCollins, shared their experiences on this issue.

Session 4 was devoted to “Print and Publishing Outsource Business in India. India has been a major outsourcing destination for fortune 500 and other companies all across the globe and from all industry and sectors. It is not surprising that corporate giants all across the world are targeting India for cost-effective and highquality outsourcing solutions.

The apparent reasons are cost effective services, high quality services, and time zone advantage, India’s stable government. India accounts for more than 80 percent of the outsourced publishing services market globally. In addition, Indian printers provide the complete range of print solutions for publishing from emerging markets.

PubliCon 2015 brought together experts from print and publishing to chalk out the road map to meet the new challenges of digital printing, skill development needs, copyright issues and outsourcing scenario in the coming days.



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