Simon & Schuster eyes India’s digital reading space

September 22nd, 2011 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) The booming publishing market in India has lured yet another international publishing firm, Simon & Schuster, which is high on the country’s growing digital reading space.

Simon & Schuster, the publishing segment of CBS Corp, Wednesday opened an India-specific unit.

The publishing house wants to cash in on digital transformation, the demand for inexpensive books and the inherent financial advantages like lesser material and allied costs in India, said Carolyn K. Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster.

“In India, the digital book revolution has bypassed e-readers and tablets (reading e-tablets with screens) to reach mobile phones, unlike in the US and UK. Everyone in India has a mobile phone but not all own e-readers or tablets,” Reidy told IANS.

“Digital books are still new to India and would take some more time to become popular,” she said.

“But nearly 20 percent of readers will switch to the digital domains in the next decade,” Reidy said.

He said “digital books cost half as those of physical books because there are no shipping or paper costs”.

“But in India, physical books still costs less than in the West,” she said.

“Nearly 80 million educated readers aged between 15 and 35 years in India,” Reidy said, citing statistics collated by the firm in the course of researching the Indian market. The publishing house was eyeing the “young readers’ segment”.

She said fiction readership in India was higher than non-fiction and the market was volume driven.

“A global survey has shown that 42 percent of readers worldwide like fiction,” she said.

The publishing house has a data base of 15,000 physical titles and 8,500 e-titles. It adds 1,000 new titles in both the categories every year, Reidy said.

According to Ian Chapman, the managing director and CEO of Simon & Schuster, Britain, “the publishing house was interested in quality sports writing from India”.

“If cricket personalities like Rahul Dravid decide to write a book for us, I would like to publish it. We could market it in all the cricket playing nations,” Chapman told IANS.

The publisher known for its children’s books is “cautious about children’s publishing in India”. “Most countries like indigenous children’s books. They want the writers to reflect their own country. It is not easy to sell children’s across national borders, Chapman said.

The company will distribute its children’s titles before “publishing India-oriented books”.

Estimates cite that the Indian book market is around Rs.13,000 crore.

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