Amish Tripathi, the author of the Shiva Trilogy, feels that as far as digital books are concerned, India is behind the curve: “We’re ahead of the curve in Banking and mobile, but we’re behind the curve in Digital Books. It would be wise to see how it is playing out in the US. In the US, e-books are 25% of the market, and in Western Europe it is 10%. Close to 40-50% of working capital cost has crashed, and royalty percentages have gone up, prices for consumers have come down”
“Ebooks are manna from heaven in the publishing trade,” he added saying that because ebooks are being released simultaneously with hardbacks, customers do not have to wait for paperbacks. “In the US, the way I see it, there is only one problem – there is one party which controls 75% of ebook sales. That is a source of worry, even if they aren’t misusing their monopolistic power. Where is India in relation to this? We have a non-existent E-Reader industry. E-Readers are not widespread. The problem I believe is cost, since E-Readers cost Rs 12,000-14,000 for each unit.” He said that this is still expensive, and the price of E-Readers needs to come down to 1 month of per capita income, which is Rs 4000-5000.
But will E-Readers sell in India? “In the US,” Tripathi added, “E-Readers came before iPads and Tablets. In India, it is the other way around. Will someone say that if I’m getting a Samsung Galaxy tab for 13,000, on which I can do much more than just an E-Reader which costs the same amount? Will this market be driven more by Pads? Someone is going to have a long term call, and put pads and E-Readers out at a loss leader strategy – saying that I’ll make the E-Reader available at a low price, and I’ll make money on apps. That could kick-start the market in India.
Tripathi thinks that self publishing will go up in India as it becomes easier to put an ebook out: “For fantasy fiction writers like me, there is an entire world in our minds, and only 15% comes out in our books. In an ebook, the reader can click on hypertext, and get more information, and see the world that I have in my mind. But he can do this on a pad, not on an E-Reader.”