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Both digital, printed books should be affordable: NBT Chairman

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

To promote reading habits, books, both in digital and printed format, should be made available at affordable prices in both rural and urban areas, says NBT Chairman.

"Books should be made available to the public at affordable prices then there would be no decline in the interest of reading books. ...I have found that the enthusiasm among people to read and purchase books has not gone down," Chairman of National Book Trust (NBT) Baldeo Sharma said while addressing a conference organised by FICCI here.

He was joined by Vikrant Mathur, Director Nielsen India and Rohit Kumar, Co-chair, FICCI Publishing Committee and Advisor Raed Elsevier India Pvt Ltd.

Discussing that the digital revolution in the publishing sector was still at an inception stage in the country, he said the print publishing did not get completely replaced by digital books. In global trade, for book publishers, print still accounts for nearly 70 per cent of their sales revenue.

"I think both technology and printing publications are complementing each other in Indian context. India's situation and the mindset of the people toward reading habits and books have kept alive the importance of printed books," said Sharma.

Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Digital India' initiative and the advancements that India was making in the field of technology, Sharma said technology and print publications are actually complementing each other.

"In this era of digitisation, I think both technology and printing publications are complementing each other in the Indian context. Digitalisation of books has led to development of good and frequent reading habits of the young urban masses via laptops and smart-phones," he said.

Stating that digitisation will not affect the importance of reading books, Sharma re-visited the era when television technology was making its presence felt when the main point of discussion was print media losing importance in the country.

"When electronic media arrived in the country, it led to doubts that print media might lose its importance, but it has been proved wrong over the years. Now, when newspapers are available online, still they have not lost their sheen, last year's figure suggest it had increase by one and half times," Sharma claimed.

Urging the publishers present at the conference to make books readily available at affordable prices in the rural areas of the country, Sharma expressed need for discussion in this regard and also asked them to shift their focus from the urban areas and major cities to rural areas.

"Publishers sitting here, lets discuss on how books could available in backward areas at affordable price so that common man, who has interest in reading but come from financially week background can buy books," he said.

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First Published: Fri, November 20 2015. 16:32 IST