Aditya Books Pvt Ltd distributes books on higher education in all subject areas. They supply books to over 300 booksellers and over 1,000 educational institutions. These books are imported from all the major publishers in the world and distributed all over India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal. Here, Kailash Balani of Aditya Books Pvt Ltd shares his views on the impact of Covid-19 on the book distributors in India. Impact of Covid-19… “Like the other industries, publishers, library suppliers, wholesalers and booksellers have also been badly affected by Covid. March is the month when 30-40% of annual sales happen and due to Covid, here was hardly any sales,” tells Balani.
“Publishers and booksellers had conducted many book exhibitions at various higher education institutions in the months of January, February and early March and were waiting for the billing instructions. But due to sudden closure of institutions due to Covid, no orders were received and even books got stuck at various institutions as we could not transport them back.
We finally collected books back in July/August and many of the books were in bad condition as they were lying unattended in the institutions. We received back over 90% of the books due to lack of selection as hardly any faculties were attending physical classes and even now most of the institutions are closed for physical classes. Covid will leave a lasting negative impact on the sale of printed books in the coming years,” tells Balani.
Impact of Covid-19 on Aditya Books… “Books are received by us in November/ December so that we are able to sell them by March. This year also, we were prepared and had huge inventory, but due to Covid we could hardly sell 10% of stock we had. All the stock is lying unsold, we had to pay our suppliers and on top Rupee devaluation during Covid made our life miserable. Institutions are closed, libraries are closed so where do we sell our stock? Books that we received in late 2019 and early 2020 are now almost one year old and are outdated from the librarians’ point of view as they purchase books on the basis of copyright year and not on the basis of the content,” tells Balani.
“Libraries hardly have any budget for buying print books and on the other hand the government has recently announced the New Education Policy but nothing has been said about library funds. The situation for the publishers and the distributors is very grim and if the government does not release library budgets, many publishers, booksellers and the distributors will have to close their shops which will result in huge unemployment and will impact the research.
Book exports have also been badly hit due to the unavailability of air transport and our postal services. Even foreign post office hardly cares for book exports as they sit on parcels for days and weeks before dispatching them. This delay makes our customers unhappy which results in cancellation of orders and in return we earn bad name for no fault of ours,” adds Balani as a matter of fact.
“Our government has to look into the interest of the publishing industry by releasing funds for library purchases so that the print book does not die,” concludes Balani. — Mr. Kailash Balani (MD) Balani Group
The Kailash Balani (MD) Interview
Following is an excerpt from the interview Wonder publish conducted with Mr Kailash Balani (MD, Balani Group of Companies) recently:
Q 1: What do you think will become of the publishing industry once the normalcy sets in?
Ans- Well, the publishing industry has always delivered well whether in wars or otherwise or in good times. Even in COVID, publishers have been very generous. Most of the publishers made their content available digitally and created platforms where they could serve communities like universities or individual students.
They have been so generous that in the last few months they have opened up free access to their digital content to all the major institutions in India and in other parts of the world. So publishers have always helped during any such situations, and even now they are helping.
– Mr. Kailash Balani at ACS Library Summit 2019