Notion Press on the self-publishing business model

Freedom to publish

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Sushant Satish, business and marketing head, Notion Press
Sushant Satish, business and marketing head, Notion Press

If authors like Amish Tripathi had not chosen to self publish their books, they would not have been as successful as they are today. The idea of publishing a book without it being dissected by a team of editors or professional gatekeepers is becoming popular since it comes with the freedom of expression. 

Digital publishing technology and eCommerce have seemingly deconstructed the hallowed mystique of publishers who love to turn down and send pink slips to budding authors. Not only is everyone an author nowadays, but increasingly, many are willing to pay to be published authors and entrepreneurs of their own content.

Sushant Satish, business and marketing head, Notion Press, a self-publishing platform, said at the Delhi Book Fair held last week at Pragati Maidan, “The concept of few people judging a book or content didn’t sit well with us. Most bestselling authors like JK Rowling and Chetan Bhagat might not write content that you agree with but there is a huge market for them, and it is not up to us to deny that opportunity to first-time authors.”

Notion Press publishes more than 500 books in a month and is looking to publish a 1 lakh books in the next 5 years. “Our publishing model allows authors to publish their work without criticism. We don’t scrutinize the content too much but we do check it for plagiarism and language. The author can upload their work and design their book within 30 minutes. We make sure that the best version of a book goes out despite the content and the money invested in it,” Satish said. 

Traditional publishers publish a few books in a year and rely heavily on the sales of those titles. But that is slowly phasing out, according to Satish. Notion Press works with the authors to ensure that their content reaches the readers and the readers decide whether it is good. “If a product is good and is marketed well, it will sell well. But no matter how much you market a bad product, it will not be successful. If the market responds well to a certain book, we go a step higher and promote it more. We try to bridge the gap between self-publishing and traditional publishing,” Satish said. 

Printed books are still mainstream

When eBooks first saw the light of day in the market, it seemed as if they would be picked up faster given their low cost and ease of availability. “However, the demand for eBooks is not increasing and readers still prefer the physical experience of holding a book in their hands while reading. Printed books are still mainstream. We bring out both eBooks and printed books. There are many costs involved when it comes to producing printed copies but on the other hand, an eBook might not be as profitable as a printed one. Distribution platforms like Kindle cost 65% of profits and the authors have to be paid royalty out of the remaining 35%,” Satish explained. 

Qualities of a good publisher

“As a good publisher, you need to have quality in terms of editing, production, distribution network, and marketing. To provide each book with a good platform, we make sure that it goes through the process and we put considerable work into this. It is a little easier to do this in this age where the digital platform makes promotion much easier. Many first time authors are starting to sell, says Satish, by which we assume he means that it may be possible to earn a living by publishing your books if you are good enough and if readers agree. 

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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