Publishing

Says Mohan Ramaswamy, managing director, India, LexisNexis Legal & Professional, in conversation with Varsha Verma. LexisNexis India was recently in news for acquiring indigenous legal publishing house -Universal Law Publishing. Publ ishing industry in India is very fragmented, with national as well as regional players. Courts in India have a phenomenal number of pending cases. The Indian judiciary has got a major investment boost in the last five years and it is important to equip the judiciary with the right tools and resources. If we look at the numbers, Indian legal publishing would be a US$ 70-75 million industry, with a growth of 7-8 percent per annum, told Mohan Ramaswamy, managing director, India, LexisNexis Legal & Professional, a leading publisher and online solutions provider in the legal, tax, academic, and test-prep segments.

“We wish to promote the rule of law and expand our sphere and provide authentic and well-researched information to the legal fraternity. LexisNexis was purely a legal publishing house till a few years back, when we added tax and www.nightengalepress.com later academic titles to our list. This has been achieved through both organic as well as inorganic growth. While growing organically, we have built up our own strengths, we have also partnered or acquired existing players who were either looking at partnerships or were on the verge of exiting,” added Mohan.

LexisNexis has recently acqui red Univers a l Law Publishing, which has been publishing law books and bare acts for legal professionals, academics and students in the Indian market for five decades. Recognised for their relevance and speed to market, Universal Law Publishing titles are held in high regard by legal professionals across India. Over the years, Universal has published popular works by eminent authors like PM Bakshi, HM Seervai, KD Gaur, justice VR Krishna Iyer, justice PN Bhagwati, justice Michael Kirby, Soli J Sorabjee and Arun Jaitley to name a few.

Mohan added, “It i s a strategic acquisition as Universal Law Publishing perfectly complements our existing range of offerings in the legal market. Their presence in the bare act space expands our reach to a large set of legal practitioners. And soon, we expect to make Universal’s content available on our Indian online legal research solution – Lexis India – providing even more content to our customers.”

“LexisNexis India is one of the leading publishers and online solutions providers with many good authors and titles. This combination gives authors an opportunity to work with superior editorial and product development systems with higher quality benchmarks that provide greater value to customers. Under the aegis of LexisNexis editorial and supported by their strong marketing and sales teams, Universal Law Publishing titles will now be accessible in more markets,” he added.

Mohan RamaswamyOn asking about whether Universal Law Publishing would continue its brand, Mohan replied, “We will try our best to retain the brand as far as we can as it has its own brand identity. Nevertheless, it would become an imprint of LexisNexis and best practices we have adopted at LexisNexis would be practised here to service our customers better.”

Talking about the competition in the legal publishing segment, Mohan shared that there’s an opportunity for everybody and it is always healthy to have competition. “The USP lies in better and easier platform. LexisNexis has differentiated and created a niche for itself.

We have invested in people and right resources. In India, we had a team of just 30 professionals 7-8 years back, which has now increased to 250+ employees and we are expanding further. The recent acquisition of Universal Law Publishing has added 50 more employees to our team. Besides, we have good online tools and technologies and stateof- the-art platform. And we are making continuous investments in all spheres,” he added.

“LexisNexis is committed to India, and we will continue to make the right investments to help our customers become more effective, efficient, and productive in their professions,” concluded Mohan.



Established by Dinesh Furia in 1976, Nirali Prakashan, Pune, is one of India’s oldest source of authoritative academic content having more than 4,000 titles published till date. It is the most trusted contributor of syllabusoriented customised content for several schools, colleges and universities in India. The company started with publishing and distribution of notes written by professors and other academicians.

Nirali Prakashan specialises in quality textbooks from standard II to Postgraduate levels, which cover varied subjects like Pharmacy, Engineering, Management, Arts, Commerce, Science and Competitive Exams. These books are written as per the syllabus of Goa, Gujarat, Delhi, UP, JNTU, & Anna Universities on All India Basis and Savitribai Phule University (Pune), Mumbai, Shivaji, North Maharashatra & Marathwada Universities, in Maharashtra by eminent and experienced authors. Most of the books are also prescribed as basic texts by several universities and thus, are widely used by the student community. More than as textbooks, these books are also used as reference books by academicians and researchers, because of the quality of contents.

Nirali Prakashan has achieved excellence in designing and publishing textbooks also commonly defined as manuals of instruction or standard books in various branches of study which are produced according to the demand of educational institutions. To make their books readily available to a large section of student community, all over India they have developed a wide network of dealers & distributors. Their books are available through online bookstores like pragationline.com, Amazon, Flipkart and Book Ganga, etc. Besides, they also export their books through various exporters.

As the world is moving towards digital revolution, Nirali has also joined the bandwagon by digitalisation of bestselling titles and are ready with 184 e-books as of now. Together with their new associates Pearsons Indian Education, Innovation, and Book Ganga, Nirali is going to launch them at national level.

As a step further, they also offer Nirali app: Nirali All-In–One Perpetrator (NAP), which is mobile application programme in which one can create an account and log on to website. The competitive exam question papers are provided on site where student can write the exams and see for them the results, which help students to asses themselves.

More recently, they have also forayed into publishing books for children, cookery and big range of dictionaries and general books. With various awards in its account, this successful publication is enjoying its moulting of 40 years.



Book printers are an integral part of publishing and help the publishers spread the printed word. Nutech Print Services is catering to many publishers, offering them solutions for all their printing needs. Here, Ravi Shroff, MD, Nutech Print Services, shares the ins and outs of the book printing business. We have a capacity to produce 20,000- 30,000 books on an average every day, shares Ravi Shroff, managing director, Nutech Print Services. In order to cater to more blackand- white publishing jobs, the company has recently taken over Baba Barkha Nath Printers, with Timmy Kuthiala, former managing director at Baba Barkha Nath Printers, joining as the vice-president of operations at Nutech Print Services. “At Nutech, 70-80 percent output is 4-colour while Baba Barkha Nath catered to the black-andwhite segment and they had a set of very good clients in the book publishing segment. As such, it was a total synergistic acquisition. We took many months to work out the deal,” told Ravi.

As a matter of fact, the equipment at Baba Barkha Nath was not a part of the deal. “Some of the employees at Baba Barkha Nath are being absorbed in Nutech,” added Ravi. Baba Barkha Nath Printers is a 37-yearold company, which initially started with a phototypesetting machine. They have been one of the leading book printers in India.

The print jobs…

With a four decade legacy, Nutech Print Services offers pre-press, press and finishing facilities to the publishing industry and commercial jobs to corporates. With the help of their 300-plus workforce across their plant in Ballabgarh (Delhi- NCR) and sales & admin office in New Delhi, they can produce any trim size, be it monochrome or high-end colour printing. Their mix of work runs from basic one-colour paperback to high-end 4-colour coffee table/ children's books, school text books, dictionaries, colouring books, travel guides, calendars, bible printing on 28 gsm paper and much more with finishing facilities including soft- and hardcover binding. Their press installation include 8-colour press, four 4-colour presses, and four single colour machines to meet all kinds of production requirements.

On asking about the publishing vs. commercial business, Ravi replied that 80 percent of their job is for book publishing while 20 percent is for other commercial jobs like marketing collaterals. The ratio of domestic vs export business is 40:60 for them. “We are aiming at an equal balance. Exports jobs are very demanding as expectations remain very high,” shared Ravi.

Popular sizes of books…

There are three popular sizes of books – A4, B-format and crown size. “The majority publishing work is in A4 and B-format. Most of the textbook publishers are now going for standardisation towards A4 format, which also gets them better pricing,” shared Ravi.

Consumables used…

Nutech uses bot h indigenous as well as imported paper, of which 70 percent consumption is of indigenous paper. They use Bible, uncoated, coated paper, high bulk paper, etc. “It is more comfortable to work with foreign paper mills as most of them have a three months validity for their paper prices, which is not seen in India, but the long delivery times makes it difficult to use more Foreign paper” told Ravi.

Another important consumable is ink/varnishes and Ravi always uses quality inks from world leaders Toyo and Sakata.

Trends in print runs…

With the print runs decreasing in the publishing segment, what is the trend Ravi sees? “The print runs for fiction is coming down as publishers want to print less, test market it and then place the second run. They do not wish to stock excess printed copies and pulp unsold copies in the end,” told Ravi.

“Similarly, the print runs of dictionaries and reference books has come down drastically. This is because such information is easily available online,” he added. But, there is a silver lining. “The print runs in education segment (K-12 segment) is going high, increasing at a rate of 10- 12 percent every year,” he told. Reprints are more in education segment. “Computer books are frequently updated and have a low shelf life while medical books have an average shelf life of 4-5 years,” he added. With publishing houses going for digital printing, is Nutech also looking at this aspect? “Not at the moment… we feel there is already excess capacity in Digital and the cost being offered by printers is not viable. Also there are many small vendors who are efficiently giving economical solutions to the publishers. So right now, we wish to focus on our core business,” answered Ravi as a matter of fact.

On challenges…

“The cost of labour is growing high, and efficiencies are not improving as they should. Besides, there is stiff competition in this field,” told Ravi. But, he believes that their strengths have helped them face all odds. “We are a solution provider and not just a printer. Our customers are loyal repeat customers as we try to give them a full solution on time. We are a professionally-run company and we have very good quality of manpower across all levels - Which I believe can be a great differentiator,” shared Ravi.

On competition with Chinese printing…

Though printing industry seems to be facing sti f f competition from Chinese printing industry, Ravi has a different opinion. “China is a container pusher. Not every publisher wants container jobs. Few publishers are looking for small to medium runs - Here, India’s role comes into play. Besides, Indians have an obvious advantage in being fully conversant in English language. One should know ones advantage and try to focus on it,” told Ravi.

Future plans…

“India is a huge geographical region and feel many times opportunity exists for print runs to be split, basis delivery requirements. "We wish to have our presence in down south and are open to have an understanding with a Printer in south - so work can be shared and produced in south,” concluded Ravi.

Ravi Shroff and Timmy KuthialaIn order to cater to more black-and-white publishing jobs, the company has recently taken over Baba Barkha Nath Printers, with Timmy Kuthiala, former managing director at Baba Barkha Nath Printers, joining as the vice-president of operations at Nutech Print Services. “At Nutech, 70-80 percent output is 4-colour while Baba Barkha Nath catered to the black-and-white segment and they had a set of very good clients in the book publishing segment. As such, it was a total synergistic acquisition. We took almost 1.5 years to work out the deal,” told Ravi.



Saurabh Gupta,Laxmi Publications is a privately held publishing company headquartered in New Delhi, India. Since its inception in 1974, it has grown tremendously as one of the leading publishers of engineering, computer, college, school (CBSE boar d ) and children books in India and abroad. It has various subsidiaries and imprints through which it caters to different niches of educational and professional book markets. Current years have brought tremendous growth and opportunities for Laxmi Publications. Saurabh Gupta, managing director, has taken aggressive steps to increase the brand awareness and diversify the portfolio of the company to take the business further.

Saurabh strongly believes that technology will decide the future of publishing houses; he is currently working on a unified content management system so that they have a uniform system where content can be plugged into and delivered to multiple systems. Secondly, he has almost converted forty to fifty percent of their catalogue into digital e-book format. The books of Laxmi Publications are already on sale with multiple vendors across the globe. The company has launched a website called digitests.com for online assessment. It is also at the stage of launching its online digital library called digitotheque.com. All the books would be converted into the e-book format and delivered through the company’s websites also. Their titles are also sold via Flipkart.

During the year 2013 Laxmi Publications had acquired Macmillan Unit which Saurabh terms as a happily arranged marriage for Laxmi Publications. They have also entered into a strategic tie-up with McGraw-Hill Education to co-publish, market and sell their school textbooks. It has invested into Liqvid, a leader in digital English language training, and has also obtained ISO 9001:2008 registrations. The growth of the company can be seen with number of titles it holds now as 350 as against just 300, a decade ago with more than 500 employees of which 40 as an editorial team.

Talking about the challenges in publishing today with an elongated payment cycle and lack of skilled editors, Saurabh believes it is increasingly becoming difficult for a publisher to survive without a good amount of seed capital. There will only be a few big players who would be able to sustain the test of time. In the coming years, we will see more mergers and acquisitions in the industry. “We have already built a strong network of distributors and our acquisitions have enhanced our reach in the market. The current haywire, skewed model of publishing operations in India is simply non-sustainable. Thus, we are working towards critical organisational reforms which will transform Laxmi Publications into a globally recognised and respected publishing house. We are heading towards becoming an educational and a digital publisher as well. This would open more streams of revenues and would bring stability through diversity,” he concludes.



-Prashant Pinge self-publishes a book after establishing himself as an author through traditional route.

Prashant Pinge is an acclaimed author of children’s fiction from Mumbai. He has been writing for over a decade, with five books and two short stories to his credit. His books have been nominated for the Crossword Book Awards, with Raja & the Giant Donut being shortlisted in the Children’s Writing category in 2011. More recently, he selfpublished his book Sceadu.

Here, he shares more about his experience of self-publishing.

Varsha (ABP): Why did you go for self-publishing?

Prashant PingePrashant: I have taken the traditional publishing route for all my previous books. So the decision to self-publish my YA fantasy, Sceadu, was not an easy one. The biggest deterrent was my complete lack of knowledge of the publishing industry.

However, there were a few reasons that attracted me to venture down this road. Firstly, the self-publishing industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past five years, especially with the availability of several online platforms that have dramatically increased reach.

Secondly, there are a lot of online resources available today that provide information about the self-publishing process. Thirdly, self-publishing would provide me with complete creative control, something that was really tempting given my background as a marketing professional. Lastly, I have always loved to experiment and knew that regardless of the outcome, the experience would be a reward in itself.

Varsha: How has been your experience?

Prashant: The experience has been a very interesting one so far. The preparation phase started almost five months prior to the actual date of release since I had to manage every aspect of this process with very limited resources at my disposal.

It involved a lot of multitasking to ensure that everything came together properly at the time of the launch. Of primary importance was to get the book, including cover design, ready well in time and in all the popular e-book formats. It required spending long hours learning from the numerous resources available online.

Then there was the aspect of pre-launch publicity which was a key factor in creating buzz around the book. The book launch went as planned, but the marketing continued even after that. In general, the actual ‘publishing’ has been a relatively straightforward process. It has been the marketing which has consumed a lot of time, so much so that it hasn’t allowed me to pursue much writing during this period. Also, while sales have been growing steadily, I do feel somewhere that a physical distribution channel, even in this digital age, would have made things easier. All in all though, my journey in self-publishing has been a tremendous learning experience.

While we do see online marketplaces slowly propagating to the smaller cities and towns, I feel that a physical network still offers a significant advantage in this industry.

Varsha: Do you think it would be better if you went through a publisher route? Why/Why not?

Prashant: I think this question is best answered at an individual level. Both routes offer various advantages and disadvantages. In the traditional route, the publisher has a lot of resources in place, especially with regards to editing, distribution and publicity. There is also the aspect of credibility associated with a publisher.

However, this route can often take long, even up to two years at times, and is often not even available to many authors. The greatest advantage of self-publishing is that it offers authors a chance to see their work made available to the world. There are many good authors out there who remain unpublished and selfpublishing is a boon for them.

This also happens to be the biggest disadvantage as anyone who fancies themselves to be an author now has an easy outlet to publish. This has, to a large extent, damaged the credibility of this channel, popular as it may be. Self-publishing, however, is very simple, cheap and quick, and also provides authors with a better earning model than traditional publishing, assuming similar sales of course.

Varsha: How are you marketing your book?

Prashant: The toughest aspect of publishing, be it the traditional route or the selfpublished one, is marketing. It is no secret that the number of books that are published every year is staggering. It therefore becomes essential to ensure that your book stands out amongst the competition.

And this is an extremely difficult task to achieve unless you already have substantial recognition in the market. Even traditional publishers have very low marketing budgets although they can provide an advantage through their established publicity channels. Besides, the market is so dynamic, with so many books released every day that it is very easy to get lost in all the information. In my case, I started early, about five months prior to the launch to ensure that a steady buzz developed until it culminated in a publicity blitz by the time the book was ready for release. I got an attractive cover made, developed an animated trailer video, had my website redesigned, sent out my book for reviews, wrote blogs, contacted the media, participated in book tours, chalked out a social media plan and the list goes on. There are, in fact, a lot of resources available online for book marketing. Everything depends on how much time and money you are willing to spend.

Varsha: Where all is your book available?

Prashant: Sceadu is available as an e-book on all the major online bookstores around the world such as Amazon, & Noble, iBooks Store, Kobo, Ciando and Flipkart. It is also available for download in various formats on Gumroad, an exclusive online platform for selling digital content. I am currently exploring the possibility of making it available as a paperback.

Varsha: What about your next book?

Prashant: My next work, a children’s book, is being traditionally published later this year. I am currently working on a romantic comedy, which I also plan to release through a publisher. While my experience with self-publishing has been fantastic, especially as a marketing professional, it is a lengthy process which hasn’t allowed me to devote much time to writing. The other aspect which I especially underestimated was the importance of a physical distribution network, especially in India. For instance, the publisher I usually work with has a network spread across more than 120 cities in India. While we do see online marketplaces slowly propagating to the smaller cities and towns, I feel that a physical network still offers a significant advantage in this industry.



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