Kogan Page (KP), founded in 1967 is Europe’s leading and largest independent business book publisher, and provides a comprehensive coverage of business and management related subjects at all levels from initial careers advice to professional texts, reference and analysis. KP enjoys the second largest share of the UK business books market has a significant international presence from London to Philadelphia and now to New Delhi.
Ms Helen kogan, the MD of Kogan Page was recently in town to underline a major purpose of beginning to operate in India. In her own words, she explains why India is such a major business destination for KP, “India represents an exciting opportunity for Kogan Page because of the extraordinary appetite for business information. India’s position as an emerging global power is built on an entrepreneurial culture that sits extremely well with our publishing output. Kogan Page books have long been recognized as providing practical, accessible, business information – it’s our calling card. Business shouldn’t be opaque or inaccessible and our publishing reflects this belief. We feel that this unique proposition will work very well in a burgeoning market where there is a real enthusiasm for business growth and development. Our books offer material for new entrants to the business world, providing support for basic skills such as writing a business plan or negotiation skills, through to information for the mature professional with specific needs to help support them in their strategic decision making. We also feel that there is exceptional talent within India that should be brought to the attention of the global business community and we are keen to work with Indian authors both for the home market and beyond. Indian business schools are now internationally recognized and we believe that there is a lot that the rest of the world can learn from their output”.
As per the story of the Independent Publishing Houses unfold, the independent publishers continue not only to survive but thrive despite various obstacles like the disappearance of an independent bookshop every week, deep price discounting by the supermarkets, the pike-like eagerness of the large publishing houses to swallow their smaller brethren whole.
The scope of Indian publishing industry is huge. Indian publishing needs to make itself visible on an international stage but first it needs to optimise its home market. As stated above there is significant resident talent in India that can deliver really excellent material and publishing acumen to a business community that welcomes targeted information. There is an extremely enthusiastic retail infrastructure with knowledgeable booksellers providing exceptionally good outlets for the market. In many ways the Indian publishing industry benefits from a system that mirrors the best of publishing as it used to be in the West, where personal contacts, trust, ideas and the ability to identify commercial opportunities are still paramount. However, in order to compete on a world stage there also needs an infrastructure that supports Indian publishing and recognizes the importance of supply chain logistics. ONIX feeds and information systems have tended to replace good old fashioned face-to-face negotiations in world publishing and, whilst this provides a much flatter playing field for anyone publishing anywhere in the world, it can provide a challenge to new entrants.
There is a difference between the operating systems of Europe and India, as mentioned above much of European publishing is now driven by systems and the delivery of bibliographic data through digital data feeds (ONIX). This requires an attention to detail that has become exhaustive but necessary. For titles to do well in Europe and the US they have to be ‘discoverable’ in an on-line environment and that requires detailed work by publishers to ensure that all supporting information can be picked up in both consumer and trade search engines. The consolidation of the retail trade has also meant that the commissioning process has become much more discerning. With fewer and fewer book stores to sell to (the most recent casualty in the UK is Borders) each title has to punch above its weight. We have to ensure that we have good competitive data and that our titles appeal to their target markets in way that one might not have had to do ten years ago. It’s become much more market driven. In India the fantastic range of book shops and retailers and the bigger market enables much more creative publishing where a risk-averse environment doesn’t inhibit good books from being published. Having said that to compete in a global market, as it truly should, Indian publishing will need to adopt this systems-driven approach to ensure that it is able to deliver its output to an international market.