60-70% fall in book trade: Publishers

Only IELTS, school books in demand; e-books causing downfall in biz

60-70% fall in book trade: Publishers

Finding no profits in sale of graduation and PG books, some of the retailers have started selling only school books.

Ajay Joshi

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 15

As the popularity of e-books continues to expand among students, Jalandhar-based book publishers and dealers are facing a huge downfall in their businesses.

The trend had rapidly surged for the past two-three years, claimed dealers.

Consequently, the print sale business has reduced to 60-70 per cent. In addition, students are settling abroad immediately after their schooling, hence, low admissions in colleges have further affected the publishers and shopkeepers.

Interestingly, instead of course textbooks, the sale of IELTS and English speaking books has increased in markets.

Aashu Rakheja, owner of English Book House, said every day around 20 customers visit his shop to enquire about and purchase various IELTS books. Finding no profits in the sale of graduation and post-graduation books, some of the retailers had started selling only kindergarten and school books (that too up to Class X only). Course books and reference books stored in racks of shops are gathering dust as the the digital world is reportedly offering more avenues to the students, that too free of cost.

Sharad Manocha, owner of Krishna Brothers Publishers at Mai Hiran Gate, here, said: “Looking at the current trend when the publishers are suffering almost 50 per cent loss in their business, which was booming a few years ago, the day is not far when only limited retailers and publishers will remain in the market. Topic-wise study material available on the Internet has become a preference for students.”

The book industry is engaged in an active debate about how the use of e-book channels will impact print sales. Even the conclusion of these debates enabled them to approach online platforms. However, the students filtering only subject-wise study material was another major concern which was further hindering the online sales, said Balwant Sharma, president, Punjab Publishers Association.

“A survey revealed that over 60 per cent loss was suffered by publishers in the state since 2017. Hence, they are forced to publish only a limited quantity of books now.

Pirated books

To provide students with cheaper study material, the dealers have also resorted to selling pirated books.

“Unabated piracy and photocopying of books have also tremendously impacted the business of publishers, for which stringent laws need to be implemented”, said Manocha.

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