A study of available data on the number of books published in India every year across the various Indian languages and English throws up some interesting trends - see the graphic below. I was only able to find data for the years 1977-82, 1990-96, 1998-99, 2000-2002.
Except for English, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali and Marathi, the output in all the other Indian languages has been less than 1,000 new titles per year for over 20 years from 1977-2001.
Oriya publishing seems to have experienced a boom of sorts going from about 200 titles published per year to 1,700 titles per year in just one year in 2000-01, but was still fifth in terms of the number of titles published behind the top four languages which were English, Tamil, Hindi and Bengali.
In 2000-01, Tamil publishing experienced a surge (from about 1,900 titles to over 2,800 titles published per year) to move to second place behind English (~7,000 titles per year) by overtaking Hindi and Bengali. Hindi dropped to third place (~2,200 titles published)and Bengali was in fourth place (~2,000 titles published per year).
Marathi experienced a boom in 1994-95 going from 800 titles per year to about 1,900 titles per year, but dropped back to 1,200 titles per year after that.
The data is based on the number of titles received by the National Library at Kolkata under the Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act 1954. As per the act, every Indian publisher is required by law to send a copy of every title published to the National Library at Kolkata. The data has been gleaned from different sources: a UNESCO report for the years 1977-82, the Education Ministry site for the years 1990-96, and answers to questions raised in Parliament for the years 1998-99, 2000-2001 and 2001-2002. I've compiled together all of the above data and put it up online (MS Excel format). I sent an email to the National Library at Kolkata for data for the missing years, but have not received any response. Maybe an RTI request or another question in Parliament could do the trick!
A report on the Education Ministry web site suggests that statistics of books received by the National Library at Kolkata can be taken as an approximation and the actual number of titles published are likely to be a good 20-30% higher.
The data from National Library, however, do not present the real picture on titles published in the country because many publishers do not send a copy of each of the published titles as required under the Act. As experts suggest, the number of titles would be more by at least 20 per cent in the case of English language and by 30 percent for other languages. The book division of Chemicals & Allied Product Export Promotion Council (CAPEXIL) estimates the number of new titles published in the country at about 50,000 per annum. Even this seems to be a underestimate.
Fortunately, the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) in recent times had compiled the latest statistics on Indian book publishing, which was published in a book titled " 50 Years of Book Publishing in India since Independence". According to this source about 11,000 publishers in India bring out nearly 60,000 titles in a year. To be more specific, in 1997 57,386 books were published in the country in 17 Indian languages and English, which had a share of about 22 per cent. The FIP data which were collected through various Indian languages publishers' associations appear to be more reliable compared to the incomplete information provided by NBC & the CAPEXIL.
Even if number of titles published in a year is known with certainty, the estimation of publishing market in India remains difficult. There is no consensus over average print runs per title and average price of a title. The print runs for a title can be as high as one lakh for a popular novel and can be even a few hundreds for another. Similar is the case with the variability in prices.