I have been trying to find some data on the size of the Indian publishing market, but the estimates vary widely from Rs. 5,000 crores to Rs. 7,000 Crores a year. Estimates of the size of the English segment within this also vary widely from 20% to 45%.
The Tribune (September 21, 2003) has an overview of the Indian publishing industry which is worth reading in full. Here're some excerpts.
With a market size that's estimated at Rs 6,000 crore (including books, newspapers, magazines, periodicals and academic journals), India actually ranks third in the world in its number of English publications per year, after the USA and UK.
Despite all the good cheer, however, volumes are quite literally abysmally low. Given the almost 20-million-strong English-speaking and reading public, print runs of commercially successful books could be as low as 1,000 copies. What are the reasons for this paradox? "It’s because prices are way too high," says T.S. Shanbagh of Mumbai's Strand Book Store, that old world cramped but comfortable bookstore that's irresistible to every aficionado. Shanbagh puts the blame for low volumes and high prices on high margins and inefficient distribution, "The cost of a book may be as much as 10 times the cost of production, the reader often pays for the overheads of five administrations."
The Tribune article also includes interviews with some publishers.
Business Standard in two articles reports on the prospects for the Indian publishing industry in the post-David Davidar era (July 29, 2003) and David Davidar's role in establishing Penguin in India (September 06, 2003).
Davidar presides over a publishing empire that has a turnover near Rs 100 crore. Penguin itself has a staff of around 80 and brings out around 200 books a year — including some of India’s best known writers in English.
“India is the fastest growing English-language market in the world,” says the urbane Penguin chief, lounging in his plush Panchshila Park office. Currently, there are only around 7 million to 8 million Indians who use English as their first language. But in the post-liberalisation era, says Davidar, there has been a steep increase in this number, and the customer base for English-language publishers is widening significantly. “The world is getting smaller, there are far more Indian children today with English as their first language than there were even 10 years ago. As they grow into adulthood, the sky will be the limit for publishing in English.”
The figures for the Indian publishing industry are nebulous, but estimates suggest sales of Rs 7,000 crore — between 40 and 45 per cent of which is English publishing. Of this, school and higher education books account for Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 2,500 crore (about 25%-35%) while general publishing is in the range of Rs 800 crore (about 12%). The industry is growing at between 10 per cent and 15 per cent annually. Davidar is loath to divulge the group’s net worth but says “you’re not far off the mark” when the figure of Rs 100 crore is thrown at him. “I can tell you we’re not there yet,” he says, “but we hope to be soon. The goal for the group is to be number one at the soonest.”
The Preface to a book titled "The Book Industry in India - Context, Challenge and Strategy" published in 2004 by the Federation of Publishers' and Booksellers' Associations of India claims
The vibrant publishing industry in India generates a turnover of approximately Rs 70 billion annually (Rs. 7,000 crores). Around 16,000 publishers in India publish 70,000 titles (estimated) out of which 40% are in English, which makes India the third largest English language publishing country in the world. Exports have grown from Rs 330 million in 1991 to Rs. 3,600 million in 2003.
According to the The Book Standard (March 31, 2005)
Penguin India president Thomas Abraham is predicting a "phenomenal growth curve" for Indian publishing. He estimates the Indian book market at $823m (£438m, or Rs. 3,500 Crores) with imports of around $36m (£19m, or Rs. 81 Crores ), but Abraham believes the market has massive further potential.
Moneycontrol.com reports (April 05, 2005)
Penguin is mouthing a new language, as the publishing company plans to introduce 35 titles in Hindi, Marathi and Malyalam. The company plans to increase its share in the Indian book market, which is growing annually at a sluggish 12%.
With this, Penguin hopes to increase its share of the Rs 5,000 crore Indian book market, where English books have just a fifth of a share.
According to an article in the Business Standard (May 09, 2005) on Penguin (via Rediff)
With a turnover of Rs 48 crore (Rs 480 million) in 2004, and nearly a 1,000 titles printed, Penguin is the largest general interest publisher in the country. Yet the average print run for bestsellers in fiction could just be around 15,000 copies, while for serious non-fiction the numbers are well below 5,000 copies. In the fragmented world of Hindi publishing, the number of titles a year can run up to 2,000, but with the lack of a wide distribution system, publishers are confined to selling in a handful of states.
In the Rs 5,000-crore (Rs 50 billion) books market, Hindi titles have the largest share with 28 per cent followed by 22 per cent for English.
The jury is still out on the exact size of the Indian publishing market and how it breaks down amongst the various segments.