Online platforms key for regional language publishing

The fast growing market for regional language content

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regional language

Abook lover’s comfort zone lies in reading a book in the language of their thought process. One’s mother tongue is a medium in which one can express once’s emotions and connect the heart, mind and imagination. India is very rich in terms of regional languages. There is a saying in India – ‘Ghat-ghat pe pani badle, char kos pe vani.’ The line roughly translates as – ‘The language spoken in India changes every few kilometers, just like the taste of the water.’ Hindi is the most widely spoken language in the country, while Bengali remains the second most widely spoken and Marathi has replaced Telugu in third place of the official 22 languages each of which is more widely used that than those of most countries around the world.

According to a Google-KPMG report published in 2017, internet access by Indian users in regional language will reach 536 million by 2021. This impact of communicating in regional languages has been tapped optimally by business giants Amazon and Microsoft. Seeing Amazon’s exponential sale of regional language eBooks, publishers will get a boost and will be inclined to publish more books in various Indian languages. Smartphones and Internet access at cheaper costs have opened the gates for regional writers and readers in India.

The Internet is a great platform for authors from different regions to showcase their writing talent now-a-days. There is great fiction available in regional languages, which is not available to those whose mother tongue is another regional language especially for older titles. To address this, many online story-telling, content writing and publishing platforms have come up. Some platforms like Kahaniya (an online story-telling and ePublishing platform), are self serviced, where readers and writers interact with each other. Writers can choose their book price too.

There are other online platforms like Matrubharti, where authors sell eBooks and earn money through translation and content writing assignments. Matrubharti buys publishing rights from writers for a one-time fee. Kahaniya, on the other hand, individualizes contracts with its writers—while the platform earns commission based on book sales. On some platforms authors earn royalties on book sales.

A user-generated multi-lingual content-sharing platform, Momspresso, started publishing Hindi content in January 2017, and by the end of that year, page views for its Hindi content had exceeded those for English. The company is growing exponentially with revenue expect to rise from Rs 15 crore in the 2018-19 financial year to Rs 150 crore by FY 2020-2021.

Many traditional publishers provide contemporary regional writing, including poetry both in print and online. For the young generation, short stories are in trend.

To promote regional language publishing and readership, the government of India’s Publications Division, located at Soochna Bhavan in New Delhi, publishes several magazines and journals on various aspects of Indian life in multiple regional languages. Yojana, published in 13 language editions, is the flagship magazine on development-related issues. Kurukshetra is another journal published in English and Hindi. Ajkal, in Hindi and Urdu, is a prestigious literary magazine. Bal Bharati is a popular children’s magazine in Hindi. The Publications Division also provides a platform for regional language authors who can register on its site and submit their manuscript under various categories, which are then offered to publishers on basis of tenders submitted.

In addition, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India promotes books and manuscripts of original writing in Hindi for different age groups. It also recognizes writers with awards such as the Bharatendu Harishchandra, Balbharti and Rajbhasha awards. u

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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