The Indian book publishing industry is currently pegged at Rs 10,000 crore. Non-academic books market in India is estimated to be Rs 2,000 crore. The online players are estimated to be selling around Rs 400 crore of books. Online books market will grow at a higher rate in years to come, hence in percentage terms this market will gain share over brick and mortar book retailers.
Books are among the first categories to get impacted by online. The price advantage offered by online retailers makes this a lucrative category for online shoppers. This is already visible globally, for example, as per UK Booksellers Association the count of independent bookshops in the United Kingdom has dropped from around 1,500 to 1,100 between 2006-2011, largely due to impact of online channels. Similarly in India, the books category has seen the emergence of many online retailers, which has affected traditional booksellers' sales with several of them estimated to have seen decline in their sales.
Some online retailers are indeed discounting below cost price to lure in customers to their sites. While in the short term this may be feasible, this trend will correct itself in the long-term as focus of online retailers shift on bottom lines as well.
Online sites offer volumes to publishers which they will find difficult to get from the highly unorganised brick and mortar retail market.
Also, going forward, e-books market is also expected to pick up in India. While e-books will not eliminate the paper book market over next few years, they will create a new avenue and format for publishers.