A New Chapter in Publishing

The case of an enterprising Thai student selling cheaper versions of books (bought in Thailand) in the US has prompted a court ruling that could change the way publishers sell books in developed and developing countries

Samar Srivastava
Published: Apr 23, 2013 06:31:30 AM IST
Updated: Apr 17, 2013 02:37:12 PM IST

After studying law I vectored towards journalism by accident and it's the only job I've done since. It's a job that has taken me on a private jet to Jaisalmer - where I wrote India's first feature on fractional ownership of business jets - to the badlands of west UP where India's sugar economy is inextricably now tied to politics. I'm a big fan of new business models and crafty entrepreneurs. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of those in Asia at the moment.

 Infographics: Sameer Pawar


Ruling hailed by consumers but panned by publishers

The International Publishers Association says: “Allowing the domestic importation of low-cost editions of textbooks from developing countries is a direct threat to low-cost editions themselves. Students in developing countries will, literally, pay a high price for this decision. One of the best developments for students in recent years has been differential pricing… It is unfortunate that these exciting new business models are now being threatened by such a decision.”

What does this mean?
Publishers could discontinue low-cost editions of text books for developing countries.

what publishers could do?
1. Publishers will discover new models

2. There will be more vernacular publishing

3. Special features will be added to books

4. Regional editions will be launched

What to expect

In the short term, expect low-cost editions from developing nations to flood Western markets. In the long term, digitisation of books will mute the impact. Digital content is licensed to users, not sold to them. So, ebooks and iTunes music cannot be resold.

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(This story appears in the 03 May, 2013 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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