Strategically Speaking: India: World’s Largest Book Exporter?
Indian service providers for typesetting, e-book, copy-editing and other production services are an established fact and part of virtually every major publisher's workflow.
To be sure, the business process outsourcing (BPO) of publishing services is a growth business, forecast to reach $1.2 billion in 2012 (according to a report by research and intelligence organization ValueNotes, "Offshoring in the Publishing Vertical: 2009"), including outsourcing for book, magazine and newspaper publishing—with 60 percent of these revenues being directed to Indian providers.
That said, it appears that we may be on the verge of a new addition to the existing Indian business model—an initiative that the Indian book manufacturing community has named Book City—Vision 2017.
Nov. 17 and 18, 2011, saw the Indian book manufacturing community convening its first annual National Book Printers (NBP) conference in Kerala, India. The event was attended by 330 executives from India's leading book manufacturers as well as representatives from major Western publishers and equipment manufacturers.
India's book manufacturing industry traditionally has been focused on meeting internal demand rather than servicing export markets. Export-market expansion has been hampered by a variety of factors—including fragmented operations; trade regulations that encourage importation of books rather than stimulate exports; a transportation infrastructure that puts the industry at a competitive disadvantage to its Chinese neighbor; and little means to market the Indian book manufacturing industry's capabilities to European, North American and other Asian publishers—which collectively represent 90 percent of the world's book manufacturing market.
The NBP's Book City initiative is designed to change all of this, and leverage India's success in information technology and BPO for prepress activities—building on expanded manufacturing capabilities, planned economies of scale, and an end-to-end supply chain that competes favorably with China's well-established book industry. Book City's vision is ambitious to say the least: to put India's book-manufacturing industry on the path to becoming the world's largest book exporter.