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Despite digital books readers remain loyal to hardcovers



The sales of digital books in India is expected to pick up in coming months but that will not impact the aficionados love for hardcover books as has been the case in the West, say major publishers here.

India may see good rise in sales of digital books as downloading them on mobiles becomes a possibility but their growth trajectory may not be same as in the West, they say.

Managing Director of Rupa & Co, Kapish Mehra does not see iPads or Kindle book readers replacing the hard copy.

“New technology creates a new reader. Digital books will have their share of techno enthusiasts who will read them. But, that will not impact print versions of books,” says Mehra.

He adds that Rupa is working on ebooks and readers would get some good news in next eight to nine months on this front from one of the biggest publishers in India.

Vivek Mehra, MD and CEO, SAGE Publications says it is very difficult to believe that digital books will replace paper books.

“Since the digital age, HP sells more printers than they did before the proliferation of the Internet. Not all content is easily readable in digital format. Most content is available on a subscription model. An individual could license the use of a journals back-files for a year but the price to purchase would be prohibitive for an individual,” says Mehra.

India is the world’s third-largest book market and with rise in literacy rate, the non-academic book market in India is growing at a rate of around 15 per cent which itself shows the popularity of printed books here.

At last month’s DSC Jaipur Literary Festival, Chairman and CEO of the Penguin Group, John Makinson said,”the idea of the book dying comes up all the time which is wrong. Books matter more in India than anywhere else we publish them.”

A report by market research company Forrester acknowledges that the dynamics for higher growths for ebooks vests with consumer markets like India and China. Advantage India lies in its high quality and low cost of output.

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