The current scenario
While the first quarter saw reasonable sales in physical books, two months of complete lockdown saw book sales plummet to ‘zero’. It’s only in the month of August that online sales of physical books started rising, which is a mainstay for most publishers in India, given the penetration of eBooks and audiobooks are still low in our country. We noticed a steep rise in eBook sales for us between March and May.
However, digital book sales plummeted again in June and July.
Having said that, online sales of physical books have started to climb. However, the inability to supply due to lack of logistics has thwarted a much-needed rise in sales. Since August, sales have risen, but not to the level of pre-Covid times. It will take at least another six months for things to normalise.
But, books are here to stay. We have gone through world wars, curfews and plenty of apocalyptic events but books have always held their place. This pandemic is a minor setback, but it forced us to innovate and move ahead.
For Niyogi Books, the workload remains the same. We have been working throughout lockdown. The two departments, which saw complete halt, during the lockdown, were sales and printing. However, we continued with all other functions, remotely, of course.
Initial months after Lockdown 2.0, on the one hand, our operations were limited by physical capacity; on the other, lack of logistics and unavailability of paper and printing accessories made operating further more difficult.
Having said that, even though our publishing plans have been pushed back by a few months, because of several months of inactivity, our yearly output might have dropped, but our monthly output remains the same. But, there have been some changes in the way we operate.
We are more efficiently looking at online channels for effective communication, both internally and externally. As a result of the increased use of the internet and online channels, we are also looking at digital integration in our books.
Also, the enormous amount of data received is helping us create more userfriendly modes and methods of distributing, communicating as well as curating.
If I have to send a short message back then, if I could travel back in time, I would have informed us to be more proactive on the digital front.
By seamless branching out to the digital media, we could have drawn on the existing network to achieve higher marketing reach. Having said so, we were swift to spring into action and adopted digital media strategies both in communication as well as products.
We also adapted ourselves to create mini-content on our digital platforms as well as increased digital footprint through SEO, SMO as well as digital products like eBooks, even for some of our illustrated books.