says Ranjan Kaul, managing director, Oxford University Press India, in conversation with Varsha Verma.

The future is bright for educational publishing and types print is just a medium; we are developers and content creators or supporters. People will always want to read. Publishers just need to reinvent themselves, says Ranjan Kaul, managing director, Oxford University Press India (OUP), who has over three decades of publishing experience and has held senior editorial and management positions in leading publishing companies in India. More recently, the Federation of Publishers' & Booksellers' Association in India (FPBAI) presented OUP India with the 'Diamond Award' in recognition of its distinguished services to the Indian books and publishing industry.

Journey so far...

A well-known name in publishing, Ranjan is a thought leader in several domains such as business strategy and content development. He is often quoted in media on industry-specific issues. A post-graduate in English Literature from the University of Delhi, he also holds an Engineering degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. “After completing my engineering, I did postgraduate studies in Product Design from IIT, Mumbai. Later, I came back to Delhi and did some theatre for a while, before joining McGraw-Hill as a desk editor in 1979. I also did my MA in Literature from the University of Delhi,” he recollects. Ranjan spent 14 years at McGraw-Hill and 2 day cialis delivery worked primarily in the professional, reference and higher education segment. After a short stint at AH Wheeler for their publishing programme, Ranjan moved to Sage Publications for six years and was responsible for starting the new imprint – Response Books. Since April 2001, Ranjan has been with OUP and has been responsible for foraying into higher education publishing. Besides his role as the MD at OUP, he writes and paints in his spare time and is the author of Through The Forest, Darkly, a work of fiction published by Hachette.

Publishing industry...
then and now!

On asking about the journey so far, Ranjan replies, “The publishing industry has made steady progress. There is much more talent and many more professionals in this field now. The selling channels have changed and i recommend cheapest levitra so has the marketing of books. Digital media has helped a lot in publicity and marketing.”

“There were a limited number of trade publishers when I joined the business. But now, there are many players in this field. Self-published authors have created a pressure on trade publishers and the competition is increasing,” he adds as a matter of fact.

On school publishing...

India has long been an important publishing centre for OUP. From its first locally published book in 1912, it has expanded its output to include a wide range of educational and academic resources - from scholarly works and higher education textbooks to school courses, bilingual dictionaries, and digital resources for teaching-learning.

“OUP is the market leader in ELT in K-8 segment, commanding around 24 percent of the total market share in private schools. We are growing our share in subjects like Maths, Science and Computer Science. In-fact, for CBSE Board, our Maths course is the highest selling. We have a reasonably good share in Humanities and Social Science,” he adds.

Even though OUP primarily focuses on CBSE and ICSE Boards, they also offer textbooks for state boards and some states in the North-East... “In the K-5 segment, state boards often prescribe books even with slight variation from the prescribed syllabus, Many state boards therefore prescribe books from OUP as well,” shares Ranjan.

On higher-education publishing...

Talking about higher education books from OUP, Ranjan informed that they started publishing in this segment in 2003 and are catering mainly to subjects like engineering, management, hospitality & hotel management. “We found there are gaps in these disciplines and so started publishing in that and we are proud to say that we are the market leaders in hospitality and hotel management. Oxford also distributes imported medical titles,” he adds.

On asking about their future plans in this segment, he replies, “We are planning to get into undergraduate commerce and science, where teaching is more in English.”

On dictionary publishing...

“It is a known fact that the sale of dictionaries in English language is slowing down in urban areas but it is also a fact that bilingual dictionaries designed for English learners in the tier 2 and tier 3 towns is growing. Despite a global slowdown in the sales of dictionaries, it is infact growing in India, though at a slower pace,” shares Ranjan.

“This is because the English language learning community is growing. There are around 180 million English language people who can write but not speak properly in English and it is this segment we are targeting. We are also publishing bilingual materials for adults who wish to enhance their English language skills,” he explains.

On digital solutions...

OUP India is also gearing up for the digital change. “We already offer Oxford Educate–teaching aids for teachers for interactive teaching and learning and seeing the response, we are also coming up with an Oxford Educate Premium solution for students. The beauty of this product is that it is device-agnostic, which means that students can use it on any device,” he shares.

On learning process...

As a message to the educators across the nation, Ranjan says, “Let us improve the learning outcomes and the general levels of learning.”

“We need to move away from rote learning to a concept-based approach to improve learning outcomes. . Even though formative assessment has been started in schools, but it is still not very successful as teachers do not have adequate tools to assess students properly. In this backdrop, we are coming up with Oxford Achiever – which is a digital solution and it measures the formative assessment skills of a student. We are initially developing it for English and Maths subjects. It has been successfully used in Hong Kong schools and we have developed a customised version for India.

We have already done a pilot test in 10 schools in India and are now planning to launch the English product later this year,” informs Ranjan.

Looking forward...

At OUP India, about 10 percent of our sales revenue comes from dictionary and reference books, 70 percent from school publishing and the balance 20 percent from academic and higher education publishing.

“We are planning to bring out an English-Hindi dictionary app soon and if it is successful, we may come up with apps in other languages as well,” shares Ranjan. “We are also looking at e-books in higher education, which may also have enhancements and interactivities. But OUP will continue to publish new courses in print, apart from offering integrated solutions to schools, encompassing print, digital, assessments, reports, teaching aids and teacher training,” concludes Ranjan optimistically.

Himanshu Gupta, joint managing director - S. Chand Group needs no introduction. This dynamic personality of the publishing industry has brought a major turnaround not just at S. Chand but also in the Indian publishing industry. Here, he shares his vision for the company and the major trends in the education industry, in exclusive interview with ABP editors SK Khurana and Varsha Verma. Excerpts.

Journey so far…

“I joined the family business way back in the year 2000. My journey so far can be divided into three phases. The first phase was when I was working with my father till 2006, in which there was a lot of learning, training, knowledge gain and I even went into the field. In 2006, my father opted to retire and from 2006 to 2012 was my second phase, in which we streamlined a lot of things and got S. Chand moving on a fast track. The third phase is from 2012 where we tried to grow, not just organically but also inorganically. We are now looking at the education industry in total and not just publishing.

We have got private equity and also acquiring companies. Every phase has been a very interesting and challenging one, there have been a lot of ups and downs but with a great learning experience which continue even today,” shares Himanshu Gupta of S. Chand Group.

Elaborating more on his journey, he adds, “Of all these phases, the third phase has been more important to learn and a experiential phase for me and I have met a lot many new people not only of publishing industry but also from the financial sectors.”

Talking in numbers, Himanshu is quick to point out that S. Chand Group has grown from less than a $10 million company in 2006 to more than $100 million company today. “We have become the largest publishing group in the country,” he shares.

Vision 2020…

On asking about his vision, Himanshu replies, “We have a vision to take this company to a new level and we call it as Vision 2020, wherein S. Chand Group will become a knowledge power house in next five years and will be the largest non-infrastructure provider of products and services in the education sector. That’s why we have a new logo, which says S. Chand – A Knowledge Corporation. We want to focus ourselves in the secondary and tertiary sectors of the education industry, which means content and service provider. Our vision is to take S. Chand Group to a multi-fold education company where we would be focusing on two main areas – the first one being the core sector (print) and other being digital and allied services.”

Telling more about the print segment, Himanshu shares that they are on the acquisition spree and would acquire more companies in near future.

On education industry…

Himanshu feels that our new government has a focus on education with the requisite budget and willingness to give quality education to students’ community. “The education segment is bound to grow and become a $100 billion industry in India,” he adds.

“The higher education industry is also moving but not at the pace as of school segment. We also have a bigger book printing set-up as we feel that the school book segment is bound to grow. We may also look at the regional book segment, which has equally immense potential. The population of our country is growing and the industry will grow both in terms of volume and value as well,” he shares.

“In terms of value, the book industry is pegged at $2.1 billion industry and it is expected that in the next fivesix years, it would become a $4-5 billion industry and we wish to have a 10-15 percent share within the education sector specially in the print segment,” targets Himanshu.

“We can easily accomplish $400-500 million if we work properly in the print segment as I feel print is increasing in India because of the ease of affordability, infrastructure and other issues at ground level,” he adds optimistically.

On digital and beyond…

Digital is making inroads into the education industry and S. Chand Group is also fully gearing up to tap this growing segment. “We have recently acquired a minority share in a Hyderabad based company providing learning management systems, which is then offered in the form of tablets loaded with ready content. With opportunities like these, we plan to invest more money and time,” he adds.

Not only this, there are other sectors which have immense potentials. “Of these, Test Prep sector, online tutorials, online distance education being the key growth areas, in which we can enter through organic or inorganic ways,” he shares.

Entry into pre-schools… S. Chand Group has already opened four pre-schools – under the banner of Rise Kids and in the coming financial year, they are planning to have 25 such pre-schools.

S. Chand today…

In the print segment, S. Chand Group has produced 50 million books in the FY 2014-15, catering to 20 million students. They have 15,000 titles, 3,000 authors and 2,500 professionals under its wings. “We have consumed 20,000 tonnes of paper for book production this year,” shares Himanshu. “75 percent of our revenues come from school segment and 25 percent from higher education segment. In terms of print and non-print, 95 percent of the revenue comes from print and 5 percent from non-print but this would change to 75:25 in the next five years,” he adds.

“Our growth in the last three years has been three folds and we hope to have five-fold growth in the next five years, to make S. Chand Group a USD 500 million company. Our vision is not just on papers but executed at ground level. We have the best people in the industry and the best infrastructure. We offer a professional environment to people who have responsibility as well as accountability. We have implemented SAP and planning to go for new distribution and logistics systems. Our printing unit in Sahibabad has a capacity to print 30-40 million books a year,” informs Himanshu optimistically.

Himanshu also shares that S. Chand Group is now a preferred partner of the CBSE International, which has 50-60 schools under its umbrella.

Focus on India…

Being in the publishing business for 75 years now, S. Chand Group still has a potential to grow further. “We are focusing on domestic market rather than looking at opportunities overseas as we feel India has a huge potential. We do some exports but India remains our prime focus,” he says.

S. Chand primarily caters to the CBSE and ICSE Boards, where the books are mainly in English. But, they also plan to expand in vernacular languages and the state level boards, in which S. Chand is still a small player.

“We want to be a part of every sphere of education in an asset-like model as we know every child spends 15-20 years of his life in his education life cycle,” concluded Himanshu optimistically.

The school textbook publishing segment is growing at a rate of 16-17% while the higher-end segment is growing at a rate of 8-10%. But, the industry has its own challenges and strengths. Here, Raghu Ram Aiyar of Amity University Press (AUP) shares the nuances of this industry, in conversation with Varsha Verma. The unhealthy price wars…

Raghu Ram Aiyar“Academic publishing has taken a totally different direction. The huge discounts war has come to the fore. Books are being prescribed in many institutions not on the basis of merit, but on the basis of the discounts being offered by the publishers,” shares Raghu Ram Aiyar.

Another important aspect he mentioned was that trade plays a major role in placing the orders as institutions do not have time to spend with the publishers or to evaluate the quality of the book. “And trade seems to take a path of least resistance. Both these factors have forced the academic publishers on the crossroads,” he adds. “It takes nine months to take out a quality textbook and in a matter of another nine seconds, the book is trashed as they are not able to meet the desired discount structure. It is an insult to the editors and authors who churn out excellent books which do not see the light of the day,” he shares.

The statistics behind…

So, how does this discount structure works? “Normally, publishers give 25% discount to trade, but they ask for additional 10% discount. Besides, we give out lot of specimen copies, which accounts for another 3%. Over and above, there is a turnover discount, cash discounts as well. Besides, it is a known fact that there is a credit period of 180 days. If we calculate the overall discount structure, it is a huge amount,” explained Raghu.

A few publishers have increased the prices of their books to offer such discounts, yet earn a sizable profit margin. “But, this is not going to be a lasting affair. Normally, the books are priced at the rate of Rs 1.25 per page for textbooks. A small deviation is fine but a large deviation may not go well down the market, besides burning a hole in the pockets of the end-users (parents),” he tells.

“The competition has increased as new players have emerged and the publishers with the proven track record are receding as they are unable to offer huge discounts,” adds Raghu.

The pros…

But, there is a silver lining too…. “There are still many institutions across the country who belong to the old school of thoughts and where publishers are respected for their quality,” he says.

Need for an academic publisher forum…

“There is a need for a strong academic publisher forums wherein like-minded people can sit together and come out with tangible solutions, which may benefit all. Even institutions should be taken into confidence and be an active members of the forum.”

On Amity University Press…

“Inspite of all odds, Amity University Press (AUP) is growing at the rate of 10-12% in terms of volume and 30% in terms of value. This year, we are concentrating on the volumes. We are also strengthening our marketing team and we intend to have 100+ people this year. We all also expanding our editorial team, not just at centre (Noida) but also in regional offices like Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Guwahati and Cochin,” shares Raghu.

Not only this, AUP is also planning to go in a big way into low-cost publishing for price-conscious market in B & C class cities. “We will provide same-quality content with slightly inferior production quality for this segment,” he said.

On book fairs…

AUP has been participating at the NDWBF year on year basis. “It is a good platform to create our identity. We are not present there just for sales purpose,” he tells. AUP is also present at major international book fairs in Frankfurt, London, Dubai and South Africa.

Nirali Prakashan, Pune

The zeal for dissemination of knowledge to the student community and to the ever increasing number of learners resulted in the establishment of Nirali Prakashan 34 years ago.

The love and acceptance showered by the student and academic community made Nirali Prakashan one of India’s oldest sources of authoritative academic content with more than 3,000 titles published till date.

Nirali Prakashan specialises in quality text books from school to postgraduate levels. The subjects covered are Management, Engineering, Pharmacy and Computer Science, Arts and Commerce, to name a few. Nirali Prakashan is a recipient of two awards and one certificate of merit by the Federation of Indian Publishers for excellence in book production.

They are associated with many e-commerce portals such as Amazon, Flipkart, Repro, Bookshelf, BookGanga, and many others.

Manoj Publications, Delhi

As a treasure trove for books of all kinds, Delhi based Manoj Publications boasts of an array of informative and entertaining books for kids, older children, young adults and adults. The wealth of titles from this publisher is meant for students as well as general public in all possible subjects or topics.

Right from the series on My First Books, which is a set of 30 titles on requisites like alphabets, numbers, vegetables, body parts and others for pre-school children, all the books from Manoj Publications are perfectly written and designed in accordance to readers of all age groups. Other kid series from the publishers also precisely covers rhymes, fairy tales, art and activities presented in colourful, illustrated and inspiring manners.

Also from Manoj Publications include some stimulating Learning Books designed for nursery and kindergarten kids. For older kids, Manoj Publications publishes grammar & compositions, GKs, a set of computer books and graded word search books to nurture minds of older children. Moral story books based on folk tales and fables selected from all over the globe also formed the publisher’s widely acclaimed series. In addition, the world’s famous fairy tales, mythologies, religions and children stories are reproduced in simplified language for young readers.

In the children stories series, colourfully illustrated visuals and language teach young minds the value of literature. For young adults, All Time Great Classics series introduces youngsters the timeless world classics like Swiss Family Robinson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and a host of Shakespearian plays/stories. An interesting collection of general books do form a part of the catalogue of Manoj Publications. Sex education, cooking, beauty care, health fitness, child care, yoga, self improvement, medicinal plants, forming quite a long list of titles, are available for general readers in English, Hindi and other regional languages.

AITBS Publishers India, New Delhi

Established in 1983, AITBS is one of the leading publishers in India dealing in subjects such as Management, Economics, Medical, Dentistry, subject dictionaries, mathematics and English literature. They publish a good number of Indian editions in English of Foreign books authored by learned writers of international repute in collaboration with foreign publishers. The cover price of the Indian editions thus becomes low in comparison to the original foreign editions. They have also published many books authored by learned and eminent Indian authors.

Their aim is to publish quality books, useful for students, professional institutes, colleges and public libraries. They also publish low priced textbooks to serve the students community and distribute them through their own network and reputed distributors throughout India and abroad.

says Sanjay Mago, CEO, sales and marketing, Om Books International in conversation with Smita Dwivedi at their opulent three-floor newly opened bookshop in Darya Ganj. He shared his unbiased opinion on books….business…and bestsellers. Om Books International is one of the largest English language trade publishers in the Indian subcontinent and has been a leading force in the Indian publishing and retail industry for several years. Headquartered in Noida, the company in over the last five decades; has established an international distribution network in the UK, the US, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, France and Spain. It has an equally well-established distribution network under the name of Om Book Shop in Delhi, Gurgaon, NOIDA, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

“We opened this unit on September 4, 2014 and it serves dual purpose - we use it mainly for trade and we attract genuine retail buyers as well. There are 3,00,000 books displayed covering myriad genres and authors. And there are over one lakh titles, which we have in our inventory. Darya Ganj is hub of book buyers and sellers, so we are enjoying this environment. But, we have not promoted this bookshop till now… as we are still in the process of improvisation. Nevertheless, it will be done in a big way, during NDWBF 2015, where we are planning several promotional activities to introduce Om Books- Darya Ganj to the whole industry.”

About his entry into this industry, Sanjay shared, “I was only 16, when I joined book business in 1980s, when things were very different from now. I learnt everything by my own real-life experience. There was never a second thought or another choice for me to do anything else, but today I eat, sleep and breathe books. In today’s world, in any field a person cannot be successful unless one has a passion for the job and I feel equally passionate about books.”

Sharing more about Om Books, he added, “We have published popular and literary fiction including best-selling titles like Two Mothers and Other Stories by Khalid Mohamed, Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu (Man Asian Literary Award, 2010), The Kept Woman and Other Stories by Kamala Das, Delhi OMG! by Vinod Nair, Newsroom Live by Prabhat Shunglu, The Company RED by Shantanu Dhar, to name just a few. Amongst other genres, several cinema-related titles (under the imprint Spotlight) including Still Reading Khan by Mushtaq Shiekh; Shah Rukh Can by Mushtaq Shiekh; AR Rahman: The Spirit of Music, an authorised conversational biography by Nasreen Munni Kabir; I’ll Do It My Way: The Incredible Journey Of Aamir Khan by Christina Daniels; Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam: The Original Screenplay compiled by Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari; The Original Screenplays of Lage Raho Munna Bhai and 3 Idiots; Bollywood in Posters by SMM Ausaja (shortlisted for Vodafone Crossword Award 2010 for non-fiction) are published.”

“We create bestselling authors, instead of buying bestsellers. For example, the book The Mahabharata Secret by Christopher C Doyle was a great hit. We do promote such books as they offer experiences besides expanding one’s knowledge.”

It is evident that reading habits have declined drastically over last decade. But according to Sanjay, one should always look for growth options, no matter whether the situations are favorable or not. That is why Om Books also publishes monographs and co-editions on art and architecture and photo essays. And other categories that feature in their publishing list are fashion and lifestyle, biographies, narrative non-fiction, mind, body, spirit, cookery and children’s books (under the imprint OmKidz.) Currently, they have eight bookshops in Delhi/NCR and planning to have more. Om Book Shop is a part of Om Books International, which has been a leading force in the Indian book market for several years.

“We have about 1,00,000 registered customers with the Om Book Privilege Loyalty Programme which offers them points, exclusive discounts and special offers. We also aim to popularize the Gift-a-book idea across our stores and deliver services like Dial-a-book which allows the customers to shop from their homes; and the efficient and helpful staff in the book stores assisting them in finding the right book or the right gift for the right occasion,” he added.

The conversation would have been incomplete without asking his views on online vs. brick and mortar bookshops and Sanjay shared, “Yes, online book selling has affected our retail sales. Huge discounts that are being offered online has to be taken seriously as it’s ill-practice. We need publishers’ support as well. We need to have certain guidelines to fix minimum price of a book. There should be a competition between offline and online sellers, but it has to be healthy. And premium products should never be offered with huge discounts as it makes real unpleasant situation for book retailers.”

“Selling books is not an easy business, but it is not difficult too,” he concluded.