Indian Online Market for Books and Ebooks

Here are some quick facts about the Indian market:

  • India is the world’s second most populous country with 1.2 billion citizens, accounting for 17% of the world’s population.
  • India’s literacy rate is 74% and rising.
  • India has two official languages: Hindi and English.
  • 125 million Indians speak English, twice the 61 million English speakers in the UK, quadruple the 33 million in Canada, and about six times the 22 million in Australia.  I don’t have data on English literacy, or the number of English readers, though our friends at Flipkart tell me about 80% of their book sales are English language books.
  •    150 million Indians are online.  By 2015, according to McKinsey, the number of Internet users is expected to double to 330 million.
  • India recently became the world’s third largest market for smartphones.  Its smart phone market for Q1 2013 grew over 160% year over year, a rate of growth faster than China (86% YoY), Japan (24% YoY) and the US (19% YoY).  Smartphones are e-reading devices!
  • India has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and one of the fastest growing middle classes.  India had 250 middle class consumers in 2007, a number that will rise to 600 million by 2030.   With the rise of the middle class comes increased discretionary consumer spending on books.
The ebook market today in India is nascent, accounting for less than one percent of the market.  I expect the market to grow dramatically over the next five years as the primordial soup necessary to support a thriving ebook ecosystem comes into place.
By Shashikant Nishant Sharma