Amazon acquiring the publishing business of Westland

This is a development that has the potential to disrupt the existing reality of publishing in India, the third largest English language publisher in the world. In a recently development, online retail giant Amazon has agreed to acquire the remaining 74% stake in Westland, the publishing unit of the Tata group retail company Trent. In February, Amazon bought a 26% stake in Westland for about Rs 9.5 crore. Trent had said at the time that Amazon had the option to acquire the remaining 74% stake lat

03 Nov 2016 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

While the terms of the deal are not public yet, one thing is certain. Amazon has shown a keen interest to expand its presence in India books market, not just in retail, but also in publishing.

The US-headquartered company, which started out as an online bookstore in 1994, has massive experience in publishing. While the company legitimised eBook self-publishing since the launch of its eReader, Kindle, on 19 November 2007, it also runs a successful publishing arm, Amazon Publishing. Started in 2009, the company has at least 13 different imprints and publishes different genres, from romance and thrillers to spirituality, comics, and science fiction. Its translations arm, Amazon Crossing, is said to be the largest publisher of translated books in the US. Again, in February, it was reported that had planned to open up to 400 physical bookstores worldwide, after the opening of a bookstore in its home city of Seattle.

Chennai-based Westland began as a book distributor and ventured into publishing in 2007. Today, it is one of the top five English language trade publishers in the country. Its imprints include Tranquebar Press (for literary fiction and non-fiction), EastWest (focusing on South Indian heritage) and Westland (for trade books, both fiction and non-fiction). The present company was formed from the merger of two companies, Westland Books and EastWest Books (Madras) in April 2008. The publishing list of Westland include bestselling authors Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Rashmi Bansal, Rujuta Diwekar, Preeti Shenoy, Devdutt Pattanaik, Christopher C Doyle, Anand Neelakantan, Anuja Chauhan, Ravi Subramanian, BKS Iyengar and Savi Sharma, among others.

Amazon said the acquisition would help Westland’s authors grow their physical and digital book businesses in India as well as expand their reach to customers globally. “In just three years we have built India’s largest online store that customers can trust to find, discover and buy anything online. Our acquisition of Westland continues our commitment to India—enabling Amazon to bring Westland’s highly talented authors and their books to even more customers in India and around the world,” said Amit Agarwal, vice-president and country manager at Amazon India.

“This is a great day for our authors and their readers across the globe,” said Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO of Westland. “Amazon’s roots are in books and we are excited to be part of that team in the next phase of our journey.”