The Italy-based aggregator StreetLib announces today that it is launching in India, with a partnership with India’s PubGen.
The news comes hard on the heels of StreetLib’s new focus on the Ibero-America market, and less than two years after StreetLib opened offices in the USA.
In today’s press release StreetLib describes the move as,
a new step towards globalisation
and says that StreetLib India will
be made available in all the relevant languages, ensuring it best serves the worldwide Indian community.
As I noted here at TNPS a few days ago –
we are at a new stage in ebook distribution as the Big 5 retailers consolidate their positions.
The problem for the distributors, publishers and authors alike is that the “traditional model” of ebook distribution, whereby we sat back and waited for Amazon and co. to open stores and then delivered our content to a ready-made market, is drawing to a close.
Now it’s time for distributors to forge their own way, blaze new trails, and create new markets where the Big 5 retailers fear to tread.
India of course is not a “new” market per se, and at least some of the Big 5 retailers have a presence there (Nook and Apple are notable for their absence in the India ebook sector), but the big stumbling block for all of them is that they are English-language sites and while they do carry a very limited range of local-language titles and Indian authors can upload to Amazon, Google Play and Kobo, both readers and authors need to speak English to navigate the sites in the first place.
So for me it is StreetLib India’s commitment to offering its services in local languages,
starting with English, Telugu, Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Bengali and Urdu; followed later by Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi and Kannada,
along with PubGen’s expertise and established reputation in India, that will be the game-changer here.
As the press release notes,
PubGen provides publishing services and support to authors and publishers thanks to a team of experts working with innovative tools and the latest technology. They describe themselves as “publishing consultants, who help authors, publishers, and distributors, in growing their business multifold.”
How did StreetLib in Italy and PubGen in india come together?
StreetLib’s CEO Antonio Tombolini explains,
We want to keep a truly worldwide vision and, for us, that means expanding our activities into all the countries where we find like-minded people who want to join StreetLib’s mission to save books. Pratap Chowdary from PubGen and I have been friends since 2008, and have always shared a desire to shape the future of publishing. We’ll continue this adventure together, with Pratap taking the position of CEO for StreetLib India.
But perhaps the best is yet to come, as we see on closer inspection of the press release.
Pratap Chowdary, founder and CEO of PubGen, saw StreetLib as the ideal platform for India’s flourishing publishing market. Working together, both companies will not only give readers around the world wider access to books from the rich catalog of authors and publishers in India and the APAC region, but also give writers the opportunity to reach a larger readership by distributing to new stores in the area.
And tucked away in that paragraph is where it gets really exciting – “India and the APAC region” – a clear sign that, while StreetLib India’s primary focus will be on India itself, StreetLib has its eye on not just the wider subcontinent but also the Asia-Pacific region.
I’ve covered the potential of both the subcontinent and the Asia-Pacific region many times here, –
so will end this post with the observation that as this StreetLib announcement goes live, the Indian subcontinent is a hotbed of feverish book interest that passes largely unnoticed outside the country.
Consider this: the world’s largest book fair, Kolkata, is about to start in India (2.4 million visitors last year), the world’s longest book fair, the whole-month-long Ekushey Boi Mela, runs throughout February in Bangladesh, while Pakistan’s biggest book event, the Lahore International Book Fair, starts on Feb 1st for five days, with a half million turn out in 2017.
The Galle literary festival in Sri Lanka has just wrapped, and back in India the Jaipur Literary Festival has just finished (over 100,000 visitors). The Kerala literary festival starts in just over a week.
With the New Delhi World Book Fair and Chennai Book Fair just ended (almost 3 million visitors between them) and more than a half dozen other significant book festivals and fairs in India already this month (Vijayawada Book Festival, New Town Book Festival, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, Hyderabad Literary Festival, etc), it’s safe to say between 7-10 million people on the subcontinent have just / will soon have turned out for book events in the thirty days either side of StreetLib India being announced.
Numbers we can only dream about in Europe and North America, but in subcontinent terms a drop in the ocean.
Full disclosure here: The New Publishing Standard is published by Antonio Tombolini Editore, a sister company of StreetLib, but those who have followed my musings elsewhere will know that, long before TNPS came along, and long before StreetLib India became a reality, I have been saying India is the most exciting publishing prospect on the planet.
It just got a whole lot more exciting.
Read the full StreetLib press release here.