Aarti David: More and more faculty, institutions are warming up to online education

While book sales have not been too great, there has been a spike in sales through various eBook platforms, Aarti David, director, publishing, Sage Publication, tells Dibyajyoti Sarma

19 Oct 2020 | By PrintWeek Team

Aarti David, director, publishing, Sage Publications India

The current scenario
Book sales have not been too great in the first half of 2020. In fact, they have been down as the markets have been shut since March. We have been working on getting sales through our basket of digital products, such as E-Vidya: our eBook package for libraries; we recently launched another offering of eTextbooks for libraries.

Given that all institutions are currently operating long distance and online, it made perfect sense to launch this product.

We have also seen a growing demand for our textbooks through Kortext (a platform for distributing textbooks for institutions/ students) as more and more faculty and institutions are warming up to online education.

We have also seen a spike in sales through various eBook platforms such as Kindle, Google Play, Kobo and through the audiobooks platform Audible.

Looking ahead
To be clear, work at Sage didn’t really switch off, so the question of switching back on doesn’t really apply. Having said that, there have been certain functions where we have not been doing things as we would have done traditionally, especially because a large part of our business depends on universities and colleges.

However, the teams have been working diligently to find newer ways to deal with this crisis situation.

In fact, I would like to say that we have truly redefined the phrase that in the middle of every difficulty, there lies opportunity. We have been able to find innovative methods in doing business and though we have not had phenomenal sales, we have been able to unlock sales opportunities and have been receiving orders only through the painstaking efforts of the teams retaining contacts with key stakeholders.

That to me is a very positive and healthy sign. We are not overly optimistic, but we are also not pessimistic.

In hindsight
It is always easy to adopt the approach of ‘what if’ and hindsight is always 20/20. But I guess none of us really could have imagined in January 2020 what July 2020 would turn out to be. Each of us looked at this new decade with a lot of hope and new beginnings.

Well, there has been a lot that has changed in these past few months and one thing is for sure that nothing will be the same again. This pandemic has changed the way we were, the way we thought and the way we viewed things. Things we couldn’t imagine possible/ doable a few months back have suddenly become functional.

I don’t think knowing anything back then would have really changed anything for me personally or the organisation as a whole.

Perhaps what I could say to myself would have been that I should ensure that all the staff had laptops. It was something we were anyway considering implementing, but in a phased manner. It would have surely helped when the government suddenly announced the lockdown.

We did manage to get everyone a laptop on hire before the lockdown was announced; just that the last minute rush and hassles could have been preempted. But then again, IT connected the whole organisation seamlessly and in a matter of days. It’s ironic how in the times of social distancing and isolation, technology connected us and brought us closer even if virtually.