A consistent increase in book piracy has added to the menace of publishers and authors faced during the pandemic.
Bengaluru: Publishers and authors in Bengaluru are choking under the wrath of increasing book piracy in the country, especially of academic books. The book publishing industry was already incurring losses of more than 50% due to piracy that has surged up to more than 80% since the pandemic.
A.R. Pradeep, the owner of Subhas Publications in Bengaluru stated, “The print number has come down to 70-80%. We used to sell forty to fifty thousand copies, now we are able to sell only 1000-2000. So, the publishing industry has been drastically affected. Even many book shops at Avenue Road have been closed in the last two years.”
According to the publishers, an increase in the number of people buying books online has drastically increased during the pandemic. As a result, the fake publishers get hold of the opportunity of selling pirated books easily through online platforms. This is because there is a lack of brand protection or supervision at e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. “Most of the people during the pandemic are buying books online. And as pirated books are easier to sell online because there is no system by the government to see to this,” adds A.R. Pradeep.
Even the authors are suffering, as they don’t receive the royalty they deserve. This often demotivates them to write further. Basavaraj B, an author who writes course books for B.Sc Physics, and has written numerous pieces on subjects like electromagnetism and quantum physics exclaims, “Earlier we used to get 10-15% royalty, but now we hardly get 1 or 2%, almost zero we can say. I am an author for Vikas Publication and they used to publish 25-40 books but as the sales have come down, now they are publishing only one or two. Writing is my hobby. So, I don’t have any words to say”.
The Ministry of commerce and industry states that around, 60,000 people lose their jobs every year due to piracy, incurring a total loss of revenue of more than two million US dollars every year to the country that has increased by 300% since the year 2009. There are several kinds of piracy. From duplicating printing plates, to photocopying original ones, that is major concern that still stays along with PDFs of academic books.
“Bulk photocopying of books is still around 40-50 paisa per page. Hence, it is till today the cheapest way of pirating a book that fake publishers sell without paying royalty to the author. Also, now the books in PDF formats are very easy, especially for the students to share”, continues Pradeep.
Pirated copies of popular books like Wings of Fire by Abdul Kalam costing 425 rupees are being sold at 250 rupees even when the original printing cost of the pirated book is merely forty rupees. Vendors have been selling pirated copies outside the MG road metro station and Church Street from the past thirty years; also say that they buy pirated copies in bulk from Mumbai and Delhi. Yet, the customers realize that they are often unable to differentiate between a pirated and an original book. “The technology used to pirate books is so upgraded that only an avid reader or a book seller, can recognize the difference”, says Shristi, a regular customer at the Blossom book store.
The experts are of the view that only proper legal regulation over book piracy all across the country and brand protection across online book-selling platforms can save the book publishing industry from reaching its end. “Else, traditional book selling will be totally eliminated and authors would stop writing good books”, says Poonam Kohli, the Managing Director of Punya Publications.