After the US and the UK, India is the world’s third largest publisher of English language books. Driving that distinction is a young population eager for education as well as entertainment. Of the country’s 1.2 billion inhabitants, more than half are under 25 years old. Not surprisingly, digital is the distribution channel of choice.
“The new government [of Prime Minister Narendra Modi] has set out on the task of empowering the Indian population with the smallest and the most accessible device available to India at the moment – the mobile phone. People are experimenting with new forms of delivering open educational repositories over mobiles,” notes Prashasti Rastogi, director of the German Book Office in New Delhi. “There are initiatives in the children’s space, for example, where you can dial in a story— you just give a call to a number, the number will call you back, and you will have access to an audio story for children.”
In February 2015, Rastogi and the New Dehli GBO will organize the annual Globalocal conference. Billed as a “forum for content” and a “platform for rights and licensing,” Globalocal gathers publishing executives from around the world to meet their Indian counterparts. “Higher Education in the New Age: Social, Global and Digital,” for example, brings together stakeholders from India and abroad to deliberate on the changing ecosystem of academic publishing and its impact on dissemination of knowledge.
Vivek Mehra, Managing Director and CEO of SAGE India since 2006, expects that group to look at how open access and digital publishing are redefining the economics of publishing and what is the roadmap to the future. “It’s still early days for Open Access for India. There is awareness about [OA], but there is also skepticism,” Mehra tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “However, there are some government-funded institutions that are active in the open access space. The one that comes to mind is in agriculture, where a lot of open access publishing is happening.
“The other thing that SAGE, in particular, is quite bullish about, is about publishing in Indian languages,” Mehra adds. “I think that’s something that is now catching the attention of most multinational publishing houses, but I still don’t think a lot of the academic publishers are still in that space.”