VIJAYAWADA: As the size of the Indian book market is growing at a rapid pace, ebooks and those printed are vying with each other. Even though the global surveys point out that the sales of ebooks are on the rise, traditional book publishers have another reason to worry -- the extensive reach of the e-commerce websites which sell books.The issue came to the fore as the 11-day Vijayawada Book Festival began on Monday. Even though the bibliophiles in the city eagerly wait for the annual event to happen every year, a considerable number of the book sellers, who participated in the festival, saw a decline of 20 percent sales in the last two years.
“In the past, people living in nearby towns and villages used to visit the book festival in Vijayawada. Now that e-commerce firms like Amazon have set up their centres even in rural parts of the country, they don’t find a need to travel to the city,” said R Krishna of SS Publishers, who has set up a stall at the Vijayawada Book Festival. Independent surveys by local e-commerce firms show that more than 20,000 online sales happen per day from in and around Vijayawada. Of these, the books and apparel occupy the top slots.
Attractive deals are another reason bibliophiles shop online, according to R Malleswara Rao from Himalaya Book House, a regular participant in various book festivals across the country. “Last year, sales were not as per our expectations. High discounts and efficient delivery by the online portals is a major reason. Also, book reading habit has dipped over the years in general,” he said.
However, a few publishers and book festival organisers have a different view. They said that the sale of books has been consistent. “We sold `3 cr-worth of books in the last season of the Vijayawada Book Festival. The year before that about `2.4-cr worth books were sold. If we exclude the increase in prices of books, it shows there is no dip in the sales. In fact, the paperbacks and hardcovers are becoming readers’ favourites again,” said executive council member of VBFS B Babjee.