Crouching Tiger; Hidden Dragon

04 Mar 2012

The story of Indian book imports from China

The imports of books and book print services to India grew by a massive 20% in year 2010, over the previous year.

This is as per the latest figures reported by United Nations Commerce & Trade, the world body responsible for reporting commodity trade. India took its time in sending its 2010 figures. Till the end of 2011, we were relying on the 2009 figures of USD 455 Million.


In 2010 India imported books worth USD 545 Million. Most of these books are in the trade and higher education segments plus multi colour. Even though many of the publishers of these books are based in India, the printing gets outsourced from countries like China. The Chinese share in Indian market (imports) has grown from about 7% in 2009 to 25%, as per the latest reports.  


The Indian imports from China stands at 138 Million USD in 2010. This is inching closer to India's total exports, much faster than we like. The Indian tiger, who exported just under 0.4 Million USD worth of books to China, looks a paper tiger, in comparison.


In 2009 United Kingdom was the largest exporter of books to India. Now they are relegated to the No.2 spot. Indian printers attribute the major reason for this preference, as the availability of cheaper coated paper in China. In some of the International markets, we are in a position to compete with China on prices; but not in India.  Book printing does not get the benefit of some other trades in India, when it comes to 'deemed' exports status.


To give an example, a buyer based in UK could place an order on an Indian manufacturer, make payments in Pound Sterling and ask for delivering the goods to its subsidiary in India. This is treated as a deemed export and the manufacturer gets most of the benefits available to exports - including duty free import of raw materials. This is not so when it comes to book printing. This gives a serious disadvantage to the Indian printer.


The 2010 imports data indicates that there is robust growth in the domestic book industry. It is another matter that China is capitalizing on this increase in demand.  

Click here to see the leading book exporters to India

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