4 minute read 25 Aug 2021
Publishing industry in India

The now, next and beyond of the Indian publishing industry

By EY India

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

4 minute read 25 Aug 2021

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  • Value proposition of the Indian publishing

Association of Publishers of India and EY-Parthenon examine Indian publishing industry trends and challenges.

In this digital age, the publishing industry is undergoing a landscape change. Print newspapers and magazines are witnessing a decline in subscriptions, whereas print books are navigating the digital era easily. The Indian publishing industry was  estimated to be approximately INR 500 billion in 2019, with a growth potential of INR 800 billion by 2024. The industry contributes to India's economic development, not only by promoting learning and education, but also by creating employment for more than 1.2 million people.

An increase in enrolment rates in institutions, government initiatives on education, and an increase in the overall education expenditure, are all identified as the key growth drivers of the Indian publishing industry.

The industry is a promoter of Indian culture, values and excellence with at least 45% of trade books being sold in regional languages. It maximizes the continued uptake of digital platforms such as e-books in regional languages to reach diverse audiences.

The Indian publishing industry is highly fragmented and competitive with more than 9,000 publishers and 21,000 retailers, and is dominated by educational book publishing with a small share of trade book publishing. The industry also helps with the dissemination of scientific research. This report highlights the existence of a strong correlation between access to sources of published information, such as scientific journals and research papers, and the quality of research output.

The publishing industry in India is making great strides, but it still faces many significant roadblocks such as copyright and piracy issues. Pirated books account for 20-25% of the total market and impact the overall industry negatively, leading to a drop in revenue for publishers and loss of tax collections for the government. To tackle these problems, India needs a strong regulatory ecosystem for reducing confusion about copyright infringement boundaries.

The publishing industry faces inefficiencies across its value chain, including complex distribution channels, high costs and challenges related to ease of doing business, all of which affect its financial sustainability. In comparison with mature publishing markets worldwide, India faces a significant issue across the distribution chain in terms of longer payment receivables cycles.

With regards to the regulatory framework, the publishing industry witnesses a major impact of GST. In the Indian scenario where a zero-tax slab does not exist, the introduction of five per cent GST on books can benefit both the publishing industry and the government.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further disrupted the publishing industry in India. The imposition of strict lockdowns led to limited sales, delayed payments for publishers and a steep collapse in the supply chain. While print book sales have come to a complete halt due to bookstores being closed, the sale of e-books witnessed significant growth in that period.

In mature markets such as Norway, U.K. and U.S, digital formats are becoming key growth drivers for publishing. Print books currently dominate the publishing landscape in India, with digital formats accounting for a mere 10% of the market. Increased penetration of technology into the lives of the Indian population is bound to change the nature of knowledge consumption.

To sustain the changing socio-economic and technological advancements, the publishing industry has innovated new modes of outreach, formats and business structures. New emerging business models such as online retail, subscriptions, bundle packages, open-access resources, and self-publishing provide innovative channels to reach a broader target audience.

The publishing industry plays a vital role in shaping the future of India. Key educational improvement targets and initiatives of the government, the creation of a knowledge society, and the global dissemination of Indian culture and heritage present the crucial areas where the publishing industry and the government can support one another to achieve these targets.

One of the significant opportunities present for the publishing industry in India is the National Education Policy. The policy would lead to a new structure of education and emphasize teacher education and development, increase Higher Education GER and plans to encourage research and innovation by setting up the National Research Foundation (NRF). The publishing industry could thrive by ensuring the effective dissemination of educational content and collaborating with the research community to design, market, and distribute quality journals to a broader audience.


It is imperative for the publishing industry to form new partnerships with the government as well as private entities to successfully serve a population as large as India’s. Simultaneously, the government should also leverage the publishing industry, to not just implement its immediate reforms but also to facilitate the growth of human capital in the long run.

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By EY India

Multidisciplinary professional services organization