Ebooks booming globally but print yet to stay in India

In my last post itself, I had written about ebooks picking up faster than estimated internationally. But as I had thought, the trend of physical vs. ebooks sales does not seem to be following the same curve in India. Here is an update on e-book industry in India which came in press recently – Craze for ebooks yet to catch on in India

So, Indian publishing industry is still gung ho about the printed books only. Despite the prices being dropped in India, Amazon Kindle has managed to sell only 2000 numbers locally which is very meager if we compare it with overall Kindle sales globally. We even have a more economical version of ebook reader ‘PI’, but even there the sales do not seem to be impressive enough to give reasons to publishers to launch digital version of their books.

Predictable, isn’t it? Despite being so heavily into digital medium,for everything else, somehow as a consumer this whole digital book stuff and a separate device to read such books always leaves me wondering on the feasibility of overall ebook industry in India on a larger scale. Not that it would never pick up, in fact Indian consumers are undoubtedly the most unpredictable ones, but I think digital book adoption is still years away as far as Indian market is concerned. Now think of these points:

  • In a market which is so heavily dominated by movies or books piracy and considering the price conscious mass consumers of India, isn’t a separate device and that too of minimum Rs. 10k to read digital books a difficult blockage for e-book adoption?
  • Even if you buy one and the device needs internet connectivity, then where are such easily accessible connections for you to download the books on the go?
  • I’m not even sure how many consumers actually pay for original copies of printed books in India? Will this digital version of the books actually accentuate the chances of digital piracy?
  • Will it help if text books are launched as digital versions in some high end schools for better market penetration in India?

Don’t you think that as far as this industry is concerned, the buying behavior of Indian consumers will take some time to change and adapt to the digital world? Well, ebooks are definitely outselling physical books globally but from the current state of this market in India, seems like print industry is definitely going to stay for some time now. And I’m happy for the same because as I always say, I prefer to read books (esp. fiction ones) in a printed book format only :-). Thank god, Indian consumers like me don’t need to worry about changing our consumption pattern so soon.

E-books outselling hardcover books: Slow extinction of physical book industry?

Until few months back, Amazon used to sell 48 Kindle copies for every 100 physical copies of books that it offered in both formats. But the figures definitely seem to have taken a dramatic change now.

Amazon.com, one of the US’ largest booksellers, announced on Monday that for the past three months, sales of books for its e-reader, the Kindle, has outnumbered sales of hardcover books (via).

Now Amazon is selling 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition. The figures do not include free Kindle books.
As far as overall digital book sale is concerned, even there is an upsurge. In past four weeks, sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 hardcover copies. Amazon has 630,000 Kindle books, a small fraction of the millions of books sold on the site.
The growth rate of Kindle sales tripled after Amazon lowered the price of the device in late June to $189 from $259 and as per the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales have quadrupled this year through May.

Amazon had earlier also predicted to sell more of e-books as compared to physical books  and the recent statistics undeniably cast a notable change in favor of their estimation. There is definitely need for this product in certain consumer segments, moreover e-books are eco friendly and easier to store as compared to the physical ones. So, does this mean physical books are on their slow path to extinction now? What about avid readers like me who still prefer to read the physical books? Will the affordability, accessibility and convenience factor to store books affect my consumption behavior? Though Kindle as such has not been doing that great in India but considering the book market in India (India is the world’s third largest English language book market and has been growing at about 10% per annum for several years) and availability of more affordable products like Infibeam’s Pi, will the global trend of e-book outselling physical books apply to Indian market too? Would be interesting to observe some statistics from Indian e-book sellers to come out with a better comparison between international vs. domestic market but as of now from all the global trends, e-books definitely seem to be picking faster than estimated and that too in a short span of time.