HT Image
HT Image

Penguin India eyes growth from retail, online expansion

The book publishing firm plans to ride the huge retail and online expansion to drive future growth, and is finding a surprising new market for Indian writers in Scandinavia, reports Gaurav Bhagowati.
Hindustan Times | By Gaurav Bhagowati, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 20, 2007 12:11 AM IST

Book publishing firm Penguin India is planning to ride the huge retail and online expansion currently on in the subcontinent to drive future growth, and is finding a surprising new market for Indian writers in Scandinavia.

After 20 years in the country, the publishing giant is on the verge of becoming the first Rs 100-crore trade publisher, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 25 per cent over the last 5 years, said Mike Bryan, CEO and President, Penguin India.

Bryan, who took charge of the Pearson company in September, said he expects higher exports, largely driven by greater interest in fiction written by Indian writers in Europe, particularly from Scandinavian publishers.

He said there was also a keen interest from the Indian Diaspora for Indian writing, something that Penguin is looking at to drive exports from India.

Penguin, which has traditionally been strong in fiction and narrative non-fiction, is now focusing on Indian languages and the business segment.

Growth in India will be driven primarily by the huge opportunity in the country's retail sector that is expanding rapidly, besides other triggers like growing Internet sales, digitization of content and the opportunity in vernacular languages, Bryan said.

The Indian publishing industry reflects the size and diversity of a country with hundreds and thousands of publishers publishing an equally huge number of titles every year in most of its 24 vernacular languages.

According to industry estimates, the publishing business in India has an annual turnover of $1 billion, with plenty of potential for growth. India is still the world's third largest market for books in English after the US and Britain.

"With companies like Reliance and Pantaloons getting into the business of books, I believe there are exciting times ahead. We are also looking ahead to areas like digitization of content in the form of e-books, for instance. Penguin is also expanding its Indian language portfolio from Hindi, Urdu and Marathi to Malayalam," Bryan said.

Bryan said that apart from India, the publishing company was keenly exploring the Chinese and East European markets, though all were different markets. China, he said, is a key market for Penguin's local language plans, though at around 25 per cent of the size of its Indian business, it was a lot smaller. But India has a strong English language potential, he said.

The company is strengthening its marketing and sales strategy to combine retail and direct selling tools, Bryan said.

Although Bryan, who has 27 years of various experiences with Penguin across international markets — including managing the sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in major export markets — admits that challenges regarding copyright, privacy and robust online security remain, he is clearly upbeat about prospects in India.

Story Saved