The publication industry, which normally sees a bullish November to March period with sales from the creative writing sector, has been badly hit in the wake of the demonetisation decision as organisers are shying away from holding literary festivals, resulting in drop in book sales. The creative writing sector within the publication industry in the state, which annually generates an estimated Rs 50 crore turnover, has not yet found solution to the crisis as organisers are shying away from holding events, Arun Jakhade, president of Marathi Prakashak Parishad, told PTI. About 350 publication houses in Maharashtra, members of the parishad, are facing the heat as book sales have plunged due to the Centre's decision to invalidate Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes in its exercise to curb black money and corruption. "The institutional sale is a support to publication houses where purchases are made in bulk, but very few institutes like schools and colleges purchase books in this period. The November to March period is generally good for creative writers such as poets, story-writers and novelists among others," he said. "Many important books are published in this period and special discussions are held as well. All these have been affected and most of the events are either cancelled or going to be cancelled because there is not enough cash in the market so that people will buy books," Jakhade said. "Purchase of books is the last option on the priority list of people. Nowadays, everybody is concerned with purchase of essential items, books are not on their list," he added. "There are nearly 350 publication houses, of which 60-70 houses are active round the year. You need sufficient financial support to stay in such business. The publication houses as well as various government and semi-government establishments organise book fairs from November to March across the state. "The average turnover is around Rs 50 crore of book sales in the state, of which maximum is recorded in this period.
I do not see any immediate solution to the crisis in the publication sector," he said.
When asked about adopting e-wallet or card-based payment system, Jakhade said, "We need to adopt technology but there should be customers willing to pay electronically. Consumer should also have similar facility, then book fairs will get some response." Arvind Patkar, a publisher from Mumbai, said the first casualty of demonetisation has been the cancellation of book fair organised by the Nashik Municipal Corporation. The event was scheduled in December but due to cash crunch in market for book purchase, the event has been cancelled, he said. "The situation is worrisome for one more reason. Year 2014 did not see a good response because of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. The mood was not apt for holding any such cultural activity. Next year, there was acute water shortage due to poor rainfall. There were not many cultural events and book fairs," he said. "There were hopes that this year would prove be profitable as monsoon was good. But with the sudden decision and situation arising out of it, there is a little hope from this year too," Patkar said.