1.33 billion (2017)

Official language

Hindi. Each state and territory have their own official language, with the constitution recognising 22 in total. English is a subsidiary official language, but it is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication.


Indian rupee

Important Ministries

Ministry of Culture is the Indian government ministry charged with preservation and promotion of art and culture.

Sahitya Akademi (National Academy of Letters) is a government organisation established to preserve and promote literature in 24 Indian languages.

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) provides a platform for networking and consensus building within and across sectors and is the first port of call for Indian industry, policy makers and the international business community.

Fixed Book Price Systems


Trade Associations

The Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) is the representative body of publishers in English, Hindi, and other regional languages with its membership from all over India, representing more than 80 percent of the publishing industry.

Federation of Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Associations in India (FPBA) and their Directory of Regional Associations

National Book Trust India


Most recent market report from Trade Association

Annual Book Fairs

New Delhi World Book Fair is held over 9 days in January.

International Kolkata Book Fair is held over 12 days in January/February.

Jaipur BookMark (JBM) at the Jaipur Literature Festival is held over 5 days in January, and is a hub for industry stakeholders – publishers, translators, literary agents, booksellers, and writers to meet and talk business.

PubliCon is organised by FICCI and held on 1 day in December.

Kerala Literature Festival is held over 4 days in January.

Translations Programmes

Sahitya Akademi Prize for Translation is given to outstanding translations in the 24 languages recognised by it.

Indian Novels Collective is a not-for-profit network of individuals set up with the objective to bring classics of non-English Indian literature to English readers.

Trade Magazines

All About Book Publishing


Directory of Awards
Directory of Book Fairs
Directory of Children’s Publishers
Directory of Digital Publishers
Directory of Distributors
Directory of Educational Publishers
Directory of Government Publishers
Directory of Higher Education Publishers
Directory of Indian Language Publishers
Directory of Literary Agents
Directory of Retail

An Introduction to India
Key Information
Government Publishing
Trade Publications
Trade Publishing
Children’s Publishing
Indian Language Publishing
Educational Publishing
Academic Publishing
Digital Publishing
Literary Agents
Book Fairs and Literary Festivals

An Introduction to India

With a population of over 1 billion people– India is the second largest English publishing market and the 6th biggest publishing market in the world – standing at $10 billion and with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19%. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) system in India was put into operation in January 1985 by Raja Rammohan National Agency for ISBN. In the alphabetical order of member countries, India stands at serial No. 55.

Having 9,000 publishers, it is estimated that there are over 22,000 book retailers across India and organised/semi organised publishing in 22 languages. India is usually an export market allocated to the UK publisher when territorial rights are agreed, often as part of Commonwealth rights. There are circumstances where a local Indian edition may be carved out and published by an Indian publisher precluding a UK or US edition entering the market. This has occurred when it is a big name Indian author such as Amitav Ghosh where there will be a different UK, US and Indian English Language version, with the Indian version gaining exclusivity in the market. On very rare occasions, there are titles which operate in an open market, meaning the UK and US version can be sold at the same time.

There are different ways to access the Indian market, however, there are many challenges, including a limited book buying audience, state publishing in some sectors, copyright and piracy issues and a difficult distribution network.

Key Information

Market Segment

K-12 – 71%
Higher Education -23%
Trade – 6 %

India’s Demographic Advantage

The growing young and working population of India is its biggest advantage. Over one-third of the total population is aged between 6 and 24 years and more than 198 million students are enrolled in primary education. This is good news for the educational and children’s book markets. Parents don’t shy away from spending money on books, preferring print books. City and regional book fairs are all contributing to creating a reading culture, and although levels are still behind other western country reading habits, they are moving in the right direction.

Key stats:

  • The current population of India is 1,403,802,769 as of March 2022, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.
  • India population is equivalent to 17.7% of the total world population.
  • India ranks number 2 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • 35% of the population is urban (483,098,640 people in 2020).
  • The median age in India is 28.4 years – https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/india-population/
  • 1.5 million schools with 260 Million students. Out of this Govt run schools account for almost 75%.
  • 35.7 million students were enrolled in higher education in India during 2016-17.
  • 48,116 universities and colleges. Privately managed – account for about 73.1%.
  • 28.1 percent of India’s population in the age group of 0-14 years, educational industry in India provides great growth opportunity.
  • India has become the second largest market for e-learning after the US.
  • Largest population in the world of about ~500 million in the age bracket of 5 to 24 years.
  • 100 percent FDI (automatic route) is allowed in the Indian education sector.

Literacy Levels

The National Youth Readership Survey revealed that out of 83 million Indians who considered themselves “book readers”, only 55 percent consumed English books. About 35 percent read in Hindi, while the rest preferred vernacular languages.


Publishers are optimistic about a growing readership in India. With the general market for trade books increasing year on year, an ever-growing middle class and the government investment in education, the market should continue to grow steadily over the next decade. Online retailing of physical books and new formats are helping to reach more readers.

Publishing Stats

  • Total market value $10 Billion, growing at a CAGR 19%.
  • 9,000 publishing houses; however, there are estimated to be more – with most being family run businesses.
  • Major share of books printed in India are printed in English and Hindi, rest in other official languages (22 languages).


New taxes have been introduced into the book and publishing market in recent years having an impact on all publishers:

  • 5% duty on imports; the duty is on value of goods not just the cost of the book. As such this would be cost of the book (purchase price) + freight + insurance. Effectively the increase in cost is in the ballpark of 7% plus.
  • 12% Goods and Service Tax (GST) on Royalties; where a royalty is due to the author/copyright holder, 12% of that is to be paid by the publisher as GST.
  • 5% GST on e-books and audio books.
  • There is no GST on physical books.
  • 12% GST on printing and binding.
  • 18% on E-Journals.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Publishing

In 2000 the government changed its rules around FDI in publishing to allow 100% fully owned investment in subsidiaries. Prior to this, multinationals would need to be in a joint venture with a local publisher. Over the last 20 years, most multinationals have dissolved their JVs and partnerships to become wholly owned subsidiaries. FDI rules still exist in retail however, notably around multi-brand retail which prevents Amazon having a 100% owned company in India.

Foreign companies can set up an office in 5 main ways:

  • Liaison/representative office
  • Project office
  • Branch office
  • 100% wholly owned subsidiary
  • Joint venture company

Approval is given by:

The Automatic Route (common for book publishers) through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) or through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

The government however takes a cautious approach to FDI in journal publishing. There is no automatic approval. Permissions and licenses must be taken from the Registrar of Newspapers, India (RNI). This must be obtained prior to setting up. Taylor & Francis recently had their application to set up a wholly owned subsidiary for journal publishing, but this was rejected.

Applying for an ISBN in India

The Raja Ram Mohan Roy National Agency for ISBN is responsible for ISBN registration in India and is affiliated to UK-based International Agency. It is under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Dept. of Higher Education, Book Promotion and Copyright Division. ISBN Nos. are allotted free of cost and can be applied for via the online portal.


Government Publishing


The textbook market in India is dominated by the government. Prior to the setting up of the NCERT in 1961, the textbook market in India was dominated by a handful of foreign publishers. Currently, the government (NCERT, State Textbook Boards, NBT, and Publishing Division, combined) is the largest publisher in the country.

NCERT – The National Council of Educational Research and Training

Sri Aurobindo Marg,
New Delhi-110016
Tel : 011-26526396, 26852261
Email :  anupncert@yahoo.co.in
Key Contact: Prof. Hrushikesh Senapaty – Director, NCERT

NCERT is an autonomous organisation set up in 1961 by the Government of India to assist and advise the Central and State Governments on policies and programmes for qualitative improvement in school education. The major objectives of NCERT and its constituent units are to: undertake, promote and coordinate research in areas related to school education; prepare and publish model textbooks, supplementary material, newsletters, journals and develops educational kits, multimedia digital materials, etc. organise pre-service and in-service training of teachers; develop and disseminate innovative educational techniques and practices; collaborate and network with state educational departments, universities, NGOs and other educational institutions; act as a clearing house for ideas and information in matters related to school education; and act as a nodal agency for achieving the goals of Universalisation of Elementary Education.

NCERT publications are now mandatory in state run schools. The impact of this has been a major shrinkage in the market opportunities for private publishers.

Trade Publications

National Book Trust, India

5, Institutional Area, Vasant Kunj, Phase -II
New Delhi-110 070
Ph: 91-11-26707700/731/737/755/759
E-mail: nbtrightscell@gmail.com
Prof. Govind Prasad Sharma – Chairman, India
Lt Col Yuvraj Malik – Director
Vikram Kumar – Editor & Project In-charge Research & Innovation
K Syama Prasad – Director General Publications Division

NBT – The National Book Trust is an apex body established by the Government of India (Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development) in 1957. The objectives of the NBT are to produce and encourage the production of good literature in English, Hindi and other Indian languages and to make such literature available at moderate prices to the public and to bring out book catalogues, arrange book fairs/exhibitions and seminars and take all necessary steps to make the people book minded.

Book fairs help in creating an engaging and positive ambience for fostering trade as well as cultural exchanges.

Sahitya Akademi

Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road
New Delhi-110001
Tel: 011-23386626
Email: secretary@sahitya-akademi.gov.in
Dr K Sreenivasarao – Secretary General

Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, is the central institution for literary dialogue, publication and promotion in the country and the only institution that undertakes literary activities in 24 Indian languages, including English. Over the 64 years of its existence, it has ceaselessly endeavoured to promote good taste and healthy reading habits. It’s aim to keep alive the intimate dialogue among the various linguistic and literary zones and groups through seminars, lectures, symposia, discussions, readings and performances, to increase the pace of mutual translations through workshops and individual assignments and to develop a serious literary culture through the publications of journals, monographs, individual creative works of every genre, anthologies, encyclopaedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, who’s who of writers and histories of literature. It has so far published over 6000 books, the present pace of publication being one book every 19 hours. Every year the Akademi holds at least 50 seminars at regional, national and international levels along with the workshops and literary gatherings-about 300 in number per year, under various heads like Meet the Author, Samvad, Kavisandhi, Kathasandhi, Loka: The Many Voices, People and Books, Through My Window, Mulakat, Asmita, Antaral, Avishkar, Nari Chetna, YuvaSahiti, Bal Sahiti, Purvottari and Literary Forum meetings.

Tribal Literature: A Treasure Trove

The Publications Division

Soochna Bhawan Lodhi Road, CGO Complex, Pragati Vihar,
New Delhi-110003

The Publications Division is a repository of books and journals highlighting subjects of national importance and India’s rich cultural heritage. Established in 1941, The Publications Division has emerged as a premier publishing house of the Government of India, enriching national knowledge repository in distinctive streams as follows:

(i) Preserving and showcasing India’s heritage with quality publications on land and people, history of freedom movement, art and culture, flora and fauna, Gandhian literature, biographies of the builders of modern India during the freedom movement, leading luminaries in the field of culture, philosophy, science, literature etc.

(ii) Bringing out speeches of Presidents/ Prime Ministers, books on contemporary science, economy, history and other subjects with underlying focus on Indian society and readership; and

(iii) Bringing out Children’s literature – fiction and non-fiction material with broad objective of providing infotainment, spreading awareness about the land, people, heritage, culture and society aiming at inculcating human values and scientific temper among children.

The making of the collected works of Mahatma Gandhi.

Trade Publishing

The major multinational trade publishers have an Indian base (in Delhi), alongside a wealth of domestic trade publishers across India. Penguin was the first major multinational in the market and is the largest (even more so since the merger with Random House). Alongside are HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Bloomsbury, Pan Macmillan, DK, Lonely Planet, Scholastic and Parragon Publishing. They operate to both import books from their parent companies for sale into India, as well as local publishing, mainly in English but some in Hindi. Some of the multinational companies operate sales agencies for other publishers. The market, like many others is dominated by bestsellers with roughly 80% of the market dominated by 20% of titles. The multinationals have all grown quite significantly since they entered the Indian market, despite the many challenges they face.

The domestic publishers range from larger companies such as Rupa and Westland (owned by Amazon) to smaller niche publishers. There are many dynamic domestic publishers, including the relatively new Juggernaut Books founded by Chiki Sarkar (former publisher at Penguin), Yoda Press, Seagull Books, Zubaan, to name a few.


  • The print book sales in India during 2019 pulled even further ahead of 2018. The market including academic and trade books has grown in 2019 compared to 2018. The “Total Consumer Market (TCM)” of print book market has grown +21.0% by volume and +22.0% by value.
  • Fiction sales increased in 2019 compared to the same period the previous year.
  • General & Literary Fiction sub-genre dominates the Fiction category followed by Crime, Thriller & Adventure and Historical & Mythological Fiction.
  • The paperback titles rule the fiction market and contributes 88% of total fiction sales, whereas the hardback titles contribute 12% and it remained same as 2018.
  • The Indian originated local titles have featured in more numbers compared to foreign titles.
  • Non-Fiction is the biggest sub-genre in TCM and it contains academic and non-fiction trade books. The non-fiction genre contributes 61% by value in TCM. The key sub-genre trends are Education & Teaching followed by Self Improvement and Popular Psychology.
  • The non-fiction trade genre is a backlist driven market and see many titles in bestsellers which are classics, self-help and personality development.
  • The seasonality plays an important role especially for examination related titles in the genre.
  • Physical retail is in decline with many bookstore chains shrinking in size.
  • E-books and Audio books remain a small, but growing part of the market.
  • Online retail has however taken off significantly with the major players being Amazon and Flipkart. Many publishers report approx. 50% of their print sales now being via online retail.
  • Self-Publishing has grown exponentially in the last 10 years with several players now entering the market.
  • Literary Agents are an emerging role in the literary scene, again with new players entering this space.
  • Book Fairs and Festivals are on the rise with several important ones popping up across the country.
  • Social media is an important way of marketing books.



  • Piracy both print and online eats into sales
  • There are limited ways of reaching consumers
  • Taxes: – The burden of 12% GST on royalties is a heavy one for publishers
  • GST exists on e-books and audio taxes
  • A 5% import charge was introduced in 2019


Trade publishing accounts for only about 6% of the Indian Book Market. Within this 6%:

  • Trade – Adult Non-Fiction (45%), Adult Fiction (30%), Children (25%)
  • Trade – English (55.6%), Indian Language (44.4%)
  • Indian Language split – Hindi (35%), Malayalam (8%), Bengali (6%), Marathi (4%), others (47%)

Source: Nielsen India Book Market Report 2015

Children’s Publishing

India has approx. 364 million children under 14 years old. For many of them, their first book is a textbook and this is often not in their mother tongue. Children’s publishing is both vibrant and diverse with both the multinational and domestic publishers operating in this space, importing from parent companies, original content and books in translation. This is one of the fastest growing and best-selling genres, however many publishers note there is a huge potential for this aspect of the market, especially in local language publishing. What is lacking however is a real push for Reading for Pleasure driven by the government. Formats range from Early learners, Picture books, Chapter books, General knowledge, Young Adults, with picture books being particularly popular.


  • Dedicated YA imprints are being developed by some of the major international publishers for Indian authors.
  • The children’s section in bookstores is the fastest growing section.
  • Indian authors are writing in both English and regional languages which helps to root the readers with a cultural background familiar to them. There is diverse content, but perhaps not enough.
  • Dedicated children’s literature festivals are starting to promote a love for reading where authors and illustrators are connected to parents and children creating an experiential learning experience.
  • Online sales have revolutionised the way both metros and smaller towns access books for purchase.
  • Boutique book shops are specialising in children’s books alone, storytellers, book clubs, reading libraries, subscription boxes are positives for the children’s book market.
  • Social media is an effective marketing tool to introduce new books, sales, marketing, review avenues etc. It keeps back list relevant and topical and creates new engagement opportunities with parents and teachers, who are key decision makers in a child’s life. Tap into audience base and connect with them in creative ways.
  • Children’s book enthusiast/ bloggers are promoting their recommendations online. This is especially effective in the YA space.
  • More books will celebrate strong female characters, the demand for kid-friendly non-fiction will continue to grow.
  • Literary magical creatures will take children to new worlds. Re-emergence of local lore and world mythology to take children on an imaginative, literary adventure.
  • Books featuring hands-on activities will engage children of all ages and interests: The call to educate children about STEM-related activities grows as more book titles will feature special coding activities, scientific experiments, and more. Many books will be paired with popular characters and franchises to attract more readers to the world of STEM.
  • Iconic series and characters return with new stories: This past year, films and television series reimagined comic book and literary characters for a new generation. This trend continues in children’s books as readers revisit memorable characters from beloved book series, such as The Boxcar Children, The Magic School Bus and Jigsaw Jones, with new stories, but with a special twist as these worlds expand with new characters and unexpected situations.
  • Talented children’s writers in India publishing and books are at par with any international product and beautiful picture books and chapter books are coming out.
  • Puffin Classics list wherein they publish translations from the regional languages and have a wide range of classics under this series, almost 20 titles. Some examples are Devakinandan Khatri’s Chadrakanta, Premchand’s short stories, Somdeva’s Kathasaritasagara, Satyajit Ray’s stories and adventures of Prof Shonku, Upendra kishore and Sukumar Ray’s works, Vijayadan Detha’s Folktales from the Marwar and the forthcoming Shyamachi Aai, translated from the Marathi.



  • Despite this being a vibrant and growing market – there is a shortage of children’s books in Indian languages.
  • The bulk of the market is propped up by licenced characters.
  • Young readers still seem less inclined to picking up a book bearing home grown names (Indian authors and publishers). Brand counts for a lot, and especially the big UK/USA publishers that have well-known brands. Often a buyer will go for their titles where they are priced the same as domestic publishers or an unknown brand.
  • Lack of organised distribution, non-payments, extended credit and marketing is a challenge.
  • Making books available in multiple languages at competitive prices, as picture books are investment heavy.
  • Stock transfer needs to be paid by the publisher, books are often damaged during stock transfer, limited warehousing facilities of distributors.


Indian Language Publishing

India has a wealth of local Indian language publishers publishing both original text and in translation from other languages, including other Indian languages. Many of these publishers bring with them the legacy of literary authors as well as to contemporary writing styles and titles as required by their readers. Certainly, there is a push for diversity in terms of new writings and genres being explored with encouragement to push the boundaries of what is being published.

As well as local regional publishers who are publishing in local languages, many mainstream publishers, both domestic and international are now publishing in multiple languages. Mainly English and Hindi but also in others. There are also new collaborations taking place to maximise the strengths from each partner i.e. Penguin Random House has tied up with Indian publishing company, Manjul Publications to produce, market and distribute their Hindi publications. Yatra Books now produces translations for Westland Books (Amazon) and the Hindi originals and translations list of HarperCollins has a range of popular titles.

New technologies such as Print-On-Demand (POD) from Ingram, special eBook editions on Kindle, Juggernaut’s digital presence, a new wave of audio books introduced by Swedish giant Storytel are all making for a very exciting phase for Hindi publishing especially but also other languages.

Within trade publishing (which constitutes only 6% of publishing in India) Indian language publishing constitutes approx. 44.4%, out of which Hindi holds the maximum share of 35%, followed by Malayalam 8%, Bengali 6%, Marathi 4% and other 47%.


  • Popular genres being Literary Fiction, Self-help, Contemporary Fiction, Poetry, Mythology & Historical books, Political, Crime, Autobiography and Dark Fantasy.
  • Books are available on e-book and audio book format as well as print.
  • Certain publishers are multi-language publishers and actively work with translations both nationally and internationally.
  • There is an emergence of new authors and contemporary writing styles.
  • Social media helps to connect to reader base-Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media marketing is very important for language publishers.
  • Adaptations to screen are increasing for local language publishing – which also helps to create an interest in the book.
  • For print, publishers are very dependent on traditional offline distribution channels through rural and semi-rural book sellers. Participation in regional book fairs is a major sales outlet.
  • Online sales however are helping with sales figures, as are e-books and audio books.
  • Storytel is hosting a number of local language audio books.
  • Introduction of publishing courses in Hindi and English at National Book Trust, Seagull School of Publishing, Institute of Book Publishing, College of Vocational Training, Indraprastha College for Women (in association with Vani Foundation) and Kalindi College- University of Delhi.



  • Reducing retail space is a concern.
  • Decreased funding to government libraries is affecting business adversely.
  • Cost of production is increasing, including with the introduction of GST on royalties.
  • Lengthy and delayed credit cycles.
  • Book piracy.
  • Lack of good translators.


Educational Publishing

Educational books make up most of the publishing industry in India. Notably, most of the market for K-12 books is dominated by the Government. At the national level National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) publishes books for state schools with most state governments also publishing their own books. They do as such hold the highest market share in English and other languages. The private school market is around 75,000 schools, mainly following international curriculum (ICSE, CBSE, IB, CAIE, EDEXCEL and AP). This is the main market for private publishers to focus on.

Education Policy is India is controlled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and has a number of institutions under its mandate https://mhrd.gov.in/institutions.


  • A new National Education Policy was implemented by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in March 2020. https://www.education.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/NEP_Final_English_0.pdf
  • There is a move to introduce Foreign Direct Investment in Education as well as allowing the education sector to borrow from overseas banks. This should help the growth of K-12 schools.
  • Digital adoption has not taken up in the way it was expected to. In recent years however, the government’s focus on digital learning and literacy in schools will help the private publishers to gear up to provide e-content to schools linked to the curriculum to help students better understand concepts by learning in an interactive and visual way. With the digitisation and emergence of new technologies, there will be continued, sustained and supported growth in the Indian K-12 market.
  • A complete solution is sought after by schools: digital products, web support material, teacher resources, assessments, worksheets etc.
  • There is appetite for growth in schools offering international curriculum.
  • There is no government control or approval on private publishers’ content or pricing.



  • Nationwide distribution can be challenging and there are many models for reaching the market.
  • Debt collection both from customer (Schools) & Resellers (Booksellers) takes a lot of time and effort – payment terms often up to 12 months.
  • It’s a very price sensitive market, especially when private publisher books are compared to government books. Large quantities are required to gain any kind of margin. Operational costs are increasing.
  • There are many players competing for the market making it very crowded.
  • Piracy of material, sudden change of government policy, too much sampling, and also return of books.
  • Delay in release of a comprehensive education policy can delay purchasing.
  • High discounts are offered to schools by regional players.
  • There is a plethora or poor quality and not well researched content.


Routes to market

  • Publisher supplies the schools directly (Schools choose to buy from different publishers directly and sell through the PTA (Parent Teacher Association).
  • Booksellers offer a one stop service by supplying multiple publishers’ books.
  • Booksellers are offered space for a limited period within the school to enable them to set up a temporary book shop to sell textbooks and pay a commission to schools.
  • Most schools have tied up with a distributor who supply the books. These distributors either deal with the publisher directly or take supply from other distributor operating in that market, where the publisher supplies the books.
  • Marketing person of the publisher has to campaign across schools to get the book implemented. The school then asks the distributor/dealer to supply the books that they have recommended.
  • Specialist publisher representatives (Overleaf and Viva Books) and specialist schools’ distributors (Gyan Ganga, Patna, Saraswati-Jaipur).


Academic Publishing

The Higher Education sector in India is one of the largest in the world (3rd largest) and is dominated by government funded institutions. Around 35.7 million students are enrolled across 48,116 universities and colleges. The annual enrolment is estimated to be 21.5 million per year. India’s GER (Gross enrolment ratio) is 18% (with China sitting at 26%). The Govt plans to increase this to 30 %.

The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up by the Indian Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and is responsible for maintenance of standards of higher education. It provides recognition to universities in India, and disbursements of funds to universities and colleges. Its headquarters is in New Delhi, and has six regional centres in Pune, Bhopal, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Bangalore.

As of 2016, India had 799 universities, with a break up of 49 central universities, 402 state universities, 124 deemed universities, 334 private universities, 5 institutions established and functioning under the State Act, and 75 Institutes of National Importance which include IIMs, AIIMS, IITs, IIEST and NITs among others. Other institutions include 39,071 colleges as Government Degree Colleges and Private Degree Colleges, including 1,800 exclusive women’s colleges, functioning under these universities and institutions as reported by the UGC in 2016. Some Institutions are acclaimed for their standards of education like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs), University of Delhi (DU) etc.

Distance learning and open education is also a feature of the Indian higher education system.

Most international publishers operate an “Indian reprints” programme, which sees US and UK versions of their textbooks reproduced as a local edition, printed locally and sometimes with added Indian authored content. The Wiley Vs Kirtsaeng case which concluded in 2016 ruled in favour of the defendant, that the importation of the Indian editions into the Thai market was legal, has made many publishers rethink their strategy given they cannot control the territorial copyright of these low-priced editions.



  • India has emerged as a key contributor of research articles published and this will increase.
  • India remains a growth market in terms of content and revenue.
  • The geography of research has shifted to Asia, with China and India leading in publication of high-quality peer reviewed research, according to the Web of Science.
  • Indian research output is growing at 8%, standing third globally, after the USA and China.
  • The publishing industry plays a vital role in the discoverability and impact of this research internationally, a key factor in the government’s ambitions to make India a knowledge economy.
  • A look at new courses being introduced at Indian Universities and Institutions is a proof that there is movement towards more Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary sciences and new generation researchers would need more interdisciplinary content, which is discoverable and modular.



  • Publishers maintain a balance between textual pedagogy and digital learning solutions by providing high quality college textbooks, interactive tools and teacher support materials to meet the needs & requirements of both the faculty and the 21st century learners.
  • India is one of the very few countries in the world witnessing a growth in the sales of print publications. While the demand for digital materials is increasing gradually, there is still a stable demand for print resources.
  • E-books demand is fluctuating and hovers around approximately 25-30% of the total demand for books.
  • Publishers implement a strategy that balances print along with the growth in digital space, to cater to the needs of all kinds of learners.
  • Most distribution is done through direct selling to the distributors with a very minimal interaction with colleges/universities by the publishers themselves.
  • Making the learning process more personalised, adaptive and easily accessible to provide lifelong learning and better employment opportunities.
  • It is predicted that demand for bespoke content will rise sharply, and demand for bespoke e-content will rise.
  • Digital products which provide an engaging, interactive learning experience are being focused on for academic achievement.



  • Challenges in terms of quality, ethics and topics, mainly due to lack of training and resources.
  • A small part of the selling also takes place through direct selling to the institutions, on a regular basis.
  • Tender systems and long purchase cycle in government funded institutions.
  • Recommendation criteria are getting stringent.
  • Price consciousness prevails.
  • Outreach – expanse of market is very large to be covered and distribution is still both insufficient and inefficient to reach every corner of the country. This is mostly due to logistical and financial challenges.
  • Piracy, lack of copyright awareness, slow purchase decisions.
  • The linking of quality research to high-impact publishing and further to scientific progress, industry patents and commercial success on one hand and employability and skilling on the other is not established or recognized in the knowledge ecosystem.
  • Lack of quality authorship and plagiarism.
  • Reduced government funding.
  • The Educational institutes awarding degrees are exempt from paying GST on EJOURNALs. E journals as a product are not exempt resulting in the supplier paying and the same is not recoverable. The distributor is supposed to pay GST at 18 % on sale of e journals.


What Publishers/Distributors want? 
Books & Periodicals are not store items!

Digital Publishing

Digital publishing is growing in India thanks to an expanding internet infrastructure. In 2011 there were 42 million internet users, growing in 2018 to 560 million users followed by an expected growth to 650 million internet users by 2023.

The Indian local language internet user base growing at a CAGR of 18% to reach 536 million compared to the English internet user base growing at 3% to reach 199 million. Indian language internet users are expected to account for nearly 75% of India’s internet user base. 68% of internet users consider local language digital content to be more reliable than English and 9 out of every 10 new internet users in India over the next 5 years are likely to be Indian language users.

99% of Indian language users access the internet through their mobile devices with the overall share of internet users in India accessing internet through mobile devices at 78%. Mobile devices are expected to double from 354 million to 700 million by 2023. In 2017 approximately 27% of the population were using mobile devices which is expected to increase to 60% during 2022.

Digital content comprises of: Online Education, E-books, Online Journals and Audio Books. Regional platforms are also giving a voice to regional languages encouraging the reader to read, write, create & translate.


  • In June 2018, out of India’s 500 million internet users, the rural population accounted for 200 million users and the urban population, 300 million users.
  • 12.3 billion app downloads in 2018.
  • E-Books segment should be around US$149m.
  • Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2020-2024) of 5.2%, resulting in a market volume of US$183m by 2024.
  • Digital publications currently include e-versions of picture books or audio books, available through third party platforms such as Google Play Books, Audible, Storytel and OverDrive.
  • Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver, is an open repository of high-quality children’s storybooks in multiple languages. It started in 2015 with 800 stories and now has 8k+ stories, 3.5 million reads, in 223 languages. It has multilingual stories and the focus is on to read, create and translate.
  • Juggernaut is a mobile first publishing platform, with 1.6 million downloads, 20k subscribers, 70,000 books from 50 publishers. 25% of their titles are in Hindi, and over the next 2 years they want to expand to other languages.
  • Subscription program called ‘Readers Club’ enables a reader to read an unlimited number of titles in a year for the introductory price of a paper back, Rs 299. The reader is free to choose from a selection of almost 5,000 books. This is subscribed from their app.
  • Storytel has 100,000 titles in English and in 9 regional languages with their biggest repository is in Marathi. Popular genres being self-help, personal development and biographies. Storytel originals are doing very well. Subscription Model of Rs 299 a month.
  • Wattpad has 2.8 million monthly users in India and has shared more than 4 million story uploads.
  • Matrubharti is a community of Indian language lovers and a place for content creators and consumers to celebrate Indian literature and culture. People join the community to get access to the original regional content shared by the most enthusiastic writers and artists. They mostly like genres like love, horror, motivation and biography. It is in 8 languages, with 250,000 app downloads. 18,000 authors are on the site with more than four million books and stories downloaded. A user spends more than 21 minutes on the platform with an age group of 18-35. Most users are from tier 2 & 3 cities, those who want to read fiction daily.
  • Pratilipi is a platform which brings readers, writers and their stories together. 7 million + readers, 800,000 +stories, 100,000 plus writers, 12 languages.



  • E-books sales equivalent of print books for most publishers would be between 5% and 10% on average. For some less than 5%.
  • Over the last 2 years, the e-book numbers have been at the same level and not shown significant growth.
  • Protecting copyright to ensure there is no loss of revenue.
  • Standard e-pub formats since enhanced ebooks cost a lot and there was no real increased uptake once this was done. In India for children’s and visual books the print format is preferred because it is largely a parental decision and there is a ‘pick-up-and-browse-to-decide’ quotient in the decision making.


E-books sold on:


Devices: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (10th gen), Amazon Kindle Oasis/ Kindle Paperwhite 3G (7th gen) , Kobo Aura H2O / Kobo Clara HD, NOOK.


Distributors stock publishers’ books for quick supply and restock to retailers in their cities and regions. They have field sales teams who promote and supply books to retailers particularly in the B & C class cities/towns. The distributors buy from (and send returns to) publishers and pay them for the books they sell on to retailers/wholesalers or retain in stock for future sales. In most bigger cities, publishers would also have their own field salespeople promoting and securing orders from retailers to be supplied through distributors (except airport retail who are supplied directly by publishers). Publishers’ salespeople would also liaise for marketing in retail outlets, including display and POS material, events etc. Stock is mainly held by the distributor with some held by the publisher (if they are already in India).

PRH and HarperCollins have their own warehouses with some publishers using their warehousing services. All trade publishers tend to use distributors to supply all retailers and some wholesalers (except airport bookshops such as Relay Stores).

Payment terms are often 180 days or longer and payment collections are often lengthy and difficult. Distributors pay the import tax of 5% on all imported books. There are often high returns levels as well.

Leading distributors:
IBD (India Book Distribution) – National Level
PBD (Prakash Book Depot) – National Level
Supernova – East India
Prism – South India

India Book Distributors distributes eBooks through Amazing Reads Publishing, which is their own company.

Publishers Representatives

For those publishers who do not have an office in India, using a publisher’s representative is often the best way to access the market. The role of the publisher’s representative is to act as a marketing function and to manage the network of distribution for their products. Publisher reps are often specialised and will sell to some direct accounts as well as selling through distributors. They will manage the payment collections and oversee the delivery of titles. Some representatives from outside of India will include India in the territories they cover. A few of the multinational publishers offer third party publisher representation such as Penguin, Hachette and Bloomsbury but they are selective in whom they take on. Other independent publisher representatives also take on third party agency clients.

Distribution (Education / Higher Education)

There are specialist publisher representatives and distributors for both education and higher education, with a sales force reaching bookshops and educational institutions. There are some distributors who also sell journals and databases.


The retail market in India has changed significantly over the last 10 years, notably with the entrance of Flipkart and Amazon for e-retail. The landscape is made up of a range of national and regional chain bookstores as well as a wide range of independent bookstores and niche bookstores, sometimes attached to publishers. Over the last 5 years however it is estimated that more bookstores have shut than in the previous 50 years with an estimated 176 major bookstores that have shut down, resulting in a loss of over 800,000 sq. ft store space. High rent and competition from online have been the root causes of the loss of bricks and mortar stores. Independent Booksellers continue to do well, where they are producing well curated stores and recommendation selling.

Flipkart and Amazon both operate a marketplace model, whereby books are sold by individual retailers through their platforms. This has been said to lead to piracy problems where the online retailers are not in control of what stock is sold on the platform. It is estimated that around 40-50% of trade publisher sales are now done through these retailers, with academic distributors also reporting good sales.

It is commonly noted that with the entrance of the online retailers, the book market is growing, and they are reaching many cities that don’t have physical bookstores and offering the biggest range of available books possible. This has also been made possible with the growing uptake in print-on-demand thanks to the marketing push from Ingram and their partnership with Repro India.

Useful reading: The Most Famous Bookstores From Across India


  • Number of Booksellers are 21,800 +
  • Measures to promote interaction with authors, focus on display, curated lists are happening even in smaller cities.



  • Competition is tough being an offline store as it is very difficult to compete on ‘discounts’.


Literary Agents

Literary agents have only really come into the Indian market in the last 10 years, however there is a growing demand for their services. Most publishing is done by direct submission to the publisher, but literary agents are gaining in popularity. The role expands beyond representing their copyrights. Advice is also given on publicity and distribution, editorial and manuscript services. Much of the work done by the literary agents is to represent the authors (Indian and some international authors) to Indian publishing houses, however there are some agents who sell translation rights internationally. Additionally, works are sold to other adaptation rights including web services. Other clients of agents include celebrities, CEOs, scientists, sports stars, surgeons, film makers and journalists who want help to manage their writing careers.


  • Children books and Young adult books are seeing a growth.
  • Resurgence of writers in English Language writing Indian stories that has a market in India and overseas.


  • Readers are flocking around few genres.



Over the past decade, self-publishing has grown exponentially to become somewhat of a phenomenon with thousands of new titles being published every year in many different Indian languages – as well as English. The big players came into the market around 10 years ago and since then new platforms have popped up and some have disappeared. Prices range from 10,000 rupees to 50,000 rupees + for a title to be published. The self-publishing providers have become extremely sophisticated in what they offer authors, ranging from editorial, typesetting, design, sales & distribution (in all formats to all retail outlets) to adaptations and film productions. Many also offer marketing services including video trailers, author interviews etc. Power Publishers notably has a partnership with Swedish audio books platform Storytel for audio books in the Bengali language. They are also very active in the film production area thanks to the experiences of their founder Pinaki Ghosh who is a screenplay writer and film producer.

Useful reading: All you need to know about self publishing

Book Fairs and Literary Festivals

Book Fairs are in abundance in India and growing. They are a major retail opportunity for publishers often running for 10 days or more, open to the public. The New Delhi World Book Fair has been the major book fair for international publishers to travel to, although many of the other regional book fairs are rising in popularity.

Literature festivals are also growing – both in numbers and in attendance. Attracting vast audiences of the general public, both from India and from overseas markets. Children’s lit fests are the new breed, encouraging reading for pleasure and introducing children’s authors to their readers. Many literature festivals also have a range of prizes for publishers and authors.

Useful Contacts

British Council

British Council (www.britishcouncil.in/programmes/arts)
Key Contact: Jonathan Kennedy – Director Arts, India
Email: jonathan.kennedy@britishcouncil.org.in

Other useful contacts:  

FICCI Publishing
Key Contact: Sumeet Gupta
Email: sumeet.gupta@ficci.com 

German Book Office 

Nielsen India
Key Contact: Vikrant Mathur
Email: vikrant.mathur@nielsen.com
UK Department for International Trade  

Department for International Trade

Email: ditindia@fco.gov.uk
Tel: +91 (11) 2419 2100

Aminah Khan, Creative Industries Investment
Email: Khan@mobile.trade.gov.uk

Ben Green, Creative & Consumer
Email: Green@fco.gov.uk

Shivangi Ambani, Creative, Sports Economy, Retail and Food and Drink (Trade)
Email: Ambani@fco.gov.uk

Leena Paul, Creative Industries Lead Inward Investment (Lead for Life Sciences)
Email: paul@mobile.ukti.gov.uk