Session 4: Publishing houses of the Future.

The second day of the publishing-next conference began with a session on ‘Publishing Houses of the Future.’ This session was chaired by Nilanjana S Roy, a Delhi based literary columnist and critic. The other panel members included Atiya Zaidi, publisher at Ratna Sagar Pvt Ltd, Payal Kumar, vice President at SAGE Publications, Sunil Patki, Strategy and business planning consultant and co-founder of notjustpublishing.in, Ramu Ramanathan, editor of PrintWeek India, a columnist and a playwright director, Trisha Gupta, writer, critic and editor and Ulhas Latkar, founder of Ameya Prakashan.

The panellists discussed the many changes that occurred in the publishing industry over the period of time like the advent of alternate forms of publishing and social media marketing. In her opening remarks Nilanjana Roy spoke about teh recent craze of self-publishing that made it seem like the process could be done away with when in fact even authors who did self-publish did their homework on the nitty-gritties of the publishing process. Aitya Zaidi began by providing a glimpse of the text book market which was very unorganized and which is only now beginning to understand the importance of and invest in textbooks that are pleasing to the eye. She stated that while the procurement process was indeed very corrupt, one hopes that Government initiatives will make it more transparent. She also spoke about the transition some schools made to e-books although she thought that such practices would remain an exception rather than the norm, given the fact that many Indians still cannot afford text books and the abysmal state of many schools.

Ramu Ramanathan, editor of PrintWeek India provided a global perspective stating that India had much catch-up to do given the per capita book consumption in other developing and developed nations. He remained optimistic, though, stating that recent trends pointed to an increase in consumption of books in India.

Payal Kumar pointed out that all processes in publishing houses should move to the online platform, making work error-free and streamlined. In her field, of academic publishing, she stated that there was some resistance to change but that authors slowly understood the benefits of certain process changes that SAGE had introduced.

While Sunil Patki stressed that Indian publishers should not only digitize their content but should also find a way to monetize it and deliver it seamlessly, Ulhas Latkar spoke about his foray into digital publishing that started with English titles before titles in Marathi. Trisha Gupta felt that contrary to public opinion, there are still a large number of people who are willing to read books on screenand ebooks should therefore be a logical choice for any publisher.

During the Q&A session that followed, the reluctance of many publishers to digitize their backlists was discussed.