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`Govt must extend support to publishing industry'

K.V. Kurmanath

Hyderabad , April 28

THE population of booklovers is increasing by the day despite the fact that average reading per person has gone down.

The Rs 400-crore publishing industry in the State, which is dogged by problems like piracy, spiralling input costs and lack of Government support, sees an increase in number of readers.

"Maybe the average reading per person has come down. But increase in population and literacy rates resulted in spurt in the numbers," said Mr J. Krishnadev Rao, Director (Commercial), Orient Longman.

Mr S. Srinivasa Rao, Vice-President of the State Telugu Publishers' Association, also saw an increase in book-reading habit among the people.

"Proliferation of satellite channels might have cut into the fiction readership. But the number of readers who read serious books is growing," he said, quoting from a study conducted by the association.

"In fact, this has forced many Telugu publishers to switch to books in management and computer fields. Only those who switched gears survived."

Mr G.S. Sethi, Director of English Edition, also felt that book-reading habit went up in the State. "Earlier, we were holding book fairs in the city twice a year. Now, we made it thrice a year."

Mr Sethi was in the city in connection with the summer book fair held recently.

Mr Srinivasa Rao saw the emergence of new fields like globalisation and increased focus on health.

The Prajasakti Book House has published about 1,000 titles so far. "We are hoping to break even this year with a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore," he said. "One more interesting aspect is that there are more parents who don't mind spending more on buying books for their children."

Mr Srinivasa Rao faulted the Government for not spending back the amount collected through the two per cent cess from the people. "The cess meant for developing libraries is being used to pay salaries."

Mr Krishnadev Rao wanted the Government to open up the space in the textbook segment a little bit. "Right now we are competing for a small pie. Economies of scale would help us. The Government could use our expertise for mutual benefit," he said.

"Piracy is the biggest problem. We are losing 25-35 per cent on major titles due to piracy. While authors are being denied their rightful royalties, buyers are not getting any benefit as pirated books are not priced any lower."

The industry faced another problem in the form of technology. "While technology helped us make books look better, it resulted in huge investments in human resources and inputs," he said.

"It made it easy to become publishers. Piracy too has got a boost with technology making copying very easy."

More Stories on : Newspapers & Publishing | Andhra Pradesh

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