Prolonged unavailability of physical books due to the lockdown caused by covid-19 has led to the adoption of e-books and audiobooks. E-book sales have doubled from its low base, and audiobooks have seen a big jump from a lower base than e-books during the post-lockdown era, industry executives have said.
“Even though the market penetration of eBooks has been low and audiobooks as a category is poised to take off, we have seen sales of digital formats increase over this period, more than doubling for some. genres and titles, âsaid Niti Kumar, SVP, Marketing, Digital and Communications, Penguin Random House India.
âNew Kindle Unlimited registrations have increased dramatically. Prime Reading, which offers hundreds of eBooks to Amazon Prime members at no additional cost, has also seen increased usage. On KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) we have seen significant growth in new registrations from Indian authors and this has also helped small publishers in these difficult times, âsaid Amol Gurwara, Country Manager, Kindle Content India – Amazon.
To ensure that people continue to have access to the books, publishers like Penguin Random House first released many of their titles digitally. The publisher has also adapted the release schedule and some of its recent launches have been e-books or audiobooks. In April, the publishing company also launched its first exclusive eBook store within the Kindle Store. It contained an organized list of some of their best selling eBooks.
Audiobooks are expected to replace e-books as they are much more convenient to use and allow the listener the ability to do something completely independent while listening to them at the same time.
Customers are finding new ways to integrate audiobooks and audio content into their lifestyle, points out Shailesh Sawlani, Country Head, Audible India Points. âInstead of peak listening during morning and evening commutes, people now listened to our content while doing household chores, for early morning mindfulness, relaxation before bed and / or short Mental health breaks without a screen throughout the workday, âadds Sawlani.
Anish Chandy, founder of Labyrinth Literary Agency, believes audiobooks may actually overtake e-books. As working from home becomes a new normal, Indians are likely to start consuming more audiobooks.
According to industry sources, even after the lockdown was lifted, the sale of physical books is down 80%. This is still only the beginning and as the retail business rebounds, physical books are likely to come back into fashion. Many bookstores have received an enthusiastic response from customers.
âEven though most publishers’ e-book sales have jumped 100%, it is still too early to say whether the crisis will act as a catalyst to fundamentally change the way reading takes place in India. At some point, we’ll get past the virus, whether it’s a year from now or two years from now. Print sales will come back, but in what genres we don’t know yet, âChandy said.
The lockdown has accelerated the adoption of audiobooks or e-books by attracting many new users who are very unlikely to give up on it so soon. Kumar emphasizes that we will emerge with new audiences who have tried these formats and experienced the convenience they offer. We are seeing growth in the consumption of digital formats, however, these formats will coexist with print instead of replacing it.
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