Fear Of E-readers and Piracy Drives Penguin India To Go Digital

With e-readers (The iPad, Amazon Kindle & the Infibeam Pi to name a few) and digital reading equipments spreading all over the market, book publishers are really having a hard time selling paperbacks. Although many publishers may claim that they are not affected at all but some where down their mind, they too must be having the fear of these new generation reading devices taking down the book publishing business.


India is a tough place to do book business owing to the low book prices here and with ever rising piracy making sure pirated editions of books are already selling at traffic signals before original copies arrive at the book stores,  John Makinson (CEO of Penguin) feels that introducing digital and interactive content books in India may take care of the problems of piracy.  And the digital versions being well compatible with the new generation e-reader devices, Penguin India feels that it can do good business by offering digital versions of books over mobile phones and e-readers.

Now do you really think digital delivery of books will be a success? If you ask any avid book reader, he / she will instantly agree to the fact that there is nothing like reading from a paperback edition of a book and no one actually prefers reading a book from a screen. Okay, I do agree with the fact that these e-reader devices have screens which are eye soothing and all but still the feel of reading a book from paper can never be replaced. Penguin India has plans of introducing interactive content in the digital versions of their titles and they feel this interactiveness is what readers may want to enjoy and start switching to digital content gradually.

Penguin India also has huge digital marketing plans for these e-books. With 3G being the talk of the day plus the huge growth in mobile subscriber base, these definitely become the preferred medium of digital delivery for the content. Physical distribution of books is again a matter of concern for publishers in Tier 2 and 3 cities of India. In such areas where internet and mobile outreach has definitely penetrated more than book distribution, delivery of digital versions of the books via online communities, facebook applications, live streaming are some of the best media available to the publishers. And as far as the concern of publishers regarding piracy in India, I feel digital distribution will only give rise to this petty crime!

Original Image via Mediabistro

3 Responses to “Fear Of E-readers and Piracy Drives Penguin India To Go Digital”

  1. April 12, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    E-books are here to stay and the faster publishers make their peace with them, the better. It is actually irrational to think that e-books will cannibalize printed book sales while, in fact, the proliferation of one may lead to increased sales of the other. Piracy too can be a double-edged sword – a pirated book could actually increase its popularity and hence a demand for the print version.

    As you rightly pointed out, e-books might actually take care of last mile delivery issues book distributors and publishers face in India. Those in the publishing business know that the advance-laden, returns-intensive model isn’t working and that the only reason everyone’s sticking to it is the fact that there is no credible alternative. The emergence of a “threat” in the form of e-books might well be an opportunity to think about an alternate model itself.

    Leonard Fernandes

    CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing

  2. April 12, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    I’m an avid reader, reading well over 50 books per year, and I don’t really care about holding a paperback book at all. I’ve done 95% or my reading in digital form in the past 7 to 8 years, the big exception being a period in which I was taking very long flights and didn’t have a reader with enough battery life.

    Today, I avoid buying paper books as much as possible as I know I will be reluctant to pick them up instead of a digital one as the digital format is always with me, where ever I go.

    This is the inevitable evolution of content. I no more wish to buy DVDs than I do physical books. I would much prefer having it all stored digitally on hard disks, instead of taking up space in my apartment. Unfortunately, here in Brazil the digital download of movies, TV Series and music isn’t a viable reality yet. (Not legally anyway.)

  3. April 12, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    Very few of the majority of readers would agree that “there is nothing like reading from a paperback edition of a book and no one actually prefers reading a book from a screen”.
    Just like with food, there are a few aficionados who take into account presentation as well as quality, taste, etc, etc, and so it is with books. Most people just want to read comfortably, and an ereader allows that more than even a paperback. Try turning a page of a paperback while eating your sandwich. It can be done, but Olympians have put less effort into their training :-) Whereas with an ereader, at least a good one [like the solid Sony 505], it is ease itself to hold the reader, turn a page, all with one hand.

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