Opines Emma House, director of The Publishers Association, UK in an exclusive interview with All About Book Publishing.
"Supply chain and distribution are other two important challenges, besides of course the copyright and lack of education around copyright". Piracy is one of the many challenges which publishing industry faces. To counter this issue, Emma House, director, The Publishers Association, suggested, “There are three ways to counter piracy. First, is enforcement or taking legal action, like raids, confiscating pirated books and taking action against the wrong doers. Second, publishers should make sure the product is available as quite often, piracy happens if the product is not available in the market or if it is difficult to get hold of or it is far too expensive for the consumer. So making sure that there is legitimate product in the market at prices acceptable to the consumer, goes a long way in fighting piracy. Third is education about copyright, which is a difficult subject for people to understand because it is intangible. When people see a book, they don’t understand there is a copyright attached to that book and if they don’t pay for that book, the author does not get paid. Thus, the author needs copyright protection to earn a living and without that incentive, they are not going to generate new content.”
“In fact, a big education campaign is needed for people to understand what copyright is. Why we have copyright? And why is it important? And why is it important not to buy pirated books? This will go a long way in checking piracy,” she added. “This is a global issue that we face; even in the UK, there is a lot of digital piracy.”
Expressing her views on the copyright issue in India, Emma added, “In the educational industry, publishers work very hard to ensure educational material is available to students at affordable prices. Indian students benefit from some of the cheapest prices anywhere in the world. But, still there is piracy, which includes photocopying of the entire book. In our opinion, it should not be allowed. For educated students, you need good textbooks and competent teachers. For good textbooks, you need authors and publishers; so, it is important to keep the interests of the publishers also in mind and one needs to respect copyright. If that is broken down, the long term impact is that you won’t have high quality educational materials.”
Challenges in Indian publishing industry…
On asking about the challenges in the Indian publishing industry, Emma replied that supply chain and distribution are other two challenges, besides of course the copyright and lack of education around copyright.
The silver lining…
“Indian publishing industry flourishes on demographics. It has huge population and is a digitally savvy and digitally advanced country. There is room for both print as well as ebooks. Print books will never go away. In the UK, when the ipad and kindle came out, digital book sales went up very quickly. Five years ago, we would have predicted that digital will grow to 50-70% of the total sales, but it never happened. It peaked at about 20%, and following that peak, it started to drop. When the physical book sale dropped, there was a concern amongst the booksellers but a turnaround has happened and the physical book sales have started to go up again,” she said.
Talking more about print books, Emma mentioned that it is a pleasure to own a copy of physical book as publishers work very hard to make books more attractive; lot of attention is paid on the cover design, making their book look beautiful and unique. “Another important factor is that the habit of buying a book as a present has not gone away. Christmas is always a big selling period for books; people like to gift books as Christmas presents, and you cannot do that with a digital book. People love to go to book shops for browsing and making a selection. It will always be a combination of print and ebooks,” she added.
International Publishers Congress
The IPA (International Publishers Association) organizes the International Publishers Congress every two years, on even years, in cooperation with the IPA member in the host country. The Congress offers an unrivalled platform for networking and discussion among the world's publishers on industry challenges and opportunities. The last IPA Publishers Congress was held in London, on April 10-12, 2016 in partnership with the London Book Fair and the Publishers Association, with the next edition set to take place in New Delhi, from February 10-14, 2018.
“The 32nd International Publishers Congress is organised by the IPA and Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP). This will bring the Indian publishing community together with the global publishing community. The success of the congress is a collective international effort, drawing expert speakers and publishers from around the world,” she mentioned.
Talking about the last International Publishers Congress held in London, Emma shared, “In fact, the idea of the congress is to bring together the world of publishing in one place, and to discuss about the challenges and the opportunities facing the publishing industry. In the last event, we focussed on the importance of reading for pleasure and how to create the readers of the future, getting on consumer trends and the road ahead for publishing and how the industry will respond to what consumers want in the future.”
Benefits for publishers…
“Since the forum will attract publishers across the world, there will be tremendous opportunities for the Indian publishers to network with international publishers for translation rights, collaborations, partnership opportunities, but also to learn from the best practices and trends in other countries. Indian publishers can learn from international experiences and try and embed the best practises for the overall benefit for the Indian publishing industry. Likewise, international publishers can learn from the Indian counterparts to create something for India,” she said.
Concern for the future…
In India, there is a little bit of uncertainty about the role of the publisher in the future. “They ask several questions - Will you need a publisher in the future? Will the publisher be the one who is at the centre of delivering content? I am confident that there will always be publishers, provided that they keep up with technological advances. At the end of the day, consumers want published content. They understand if they get content from a publisher, its high quality and authentic, it’s been fact checked and is laid down in a professional way,” she said.
“People recognise the importance of published content but they want content to be delivered to them in the way they want to consume it, when they want to consume it, and at a price they are willing to pay for it. Publishers have to keep up with that. It would be naive to say we will never be digital. If you don’t do it, someone else will do it. We have seen so many examples in other industries in which it has happened, where technology companies have come in and taken over the market. Publishers have to stay one step ahead of the curve and constantly adapt to the changing needs of the consumer. At the end of the day, we are all in the business for the end user; we want the learner to improve and the researcher to do their research, and readers to enjoy stories – how they do that will continue to change and evolve,” she concluded.
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