Jon P Fine, Director, Author and Publishing Relations, Amazon.com, in an interview with Sanjay Bhattacharya, says that the Indian tradition of oral story-telling, in combination with lower costs of e-publishing, holds enormous potential. Excerpts.
There is a report in a US journal referring to Amazon having stepped in to finance small-time publishers so that they do not wither away….
No doubt, Amazon is big… So, yes, we have done something on those lines there.
India, too, has small publishers, in fact a lot of them. Any thoughts?
Our presence (in self-publishing) here has just been for a few months. We haven’t thought about this at all.
What’s Amazon’s take on the Indian market for self publishing?
India is one of the top 10 publishing markets in the world and also the third largest from the English language standpoint. Couple these facts with the incredible story-telling tradition that comes out of the country and, I think, it is set for an incredible explosion. Our platform intends to enable people with a story to get it out to an audience in a way that they couldn’t have done before. At a recently organised event, authors, who have witnessed success on other platforms, also joined in. We talked about the Kindle Direct Platform and how it works in India. These authors included people from varied backgrounds such as doctors, lawyers and even journalists. The technology has democratised the means if production. Any story can now find an audience.
Would you have a ballpark number on the size of the market in India?
We don’t share the numbers on our business. But, I can tell you that there are thousands of authors globally. And the statistics from India, as compared with a more mature market like the US, are instructive. Right now, in the US, between 25-30 per cent of the top 100 e-book sellers in any given week on our site are self-published. We have been here (in India) for 18 months with the KDP and have already witnessed about 20 per cent of top 100 e-book titles, in any given week, being self published on Kindle Direct.
We are entering a very active political cycle with General Elections on the cards. Do you see any surge in interest from politicians to publish on this platform?
That’s an interesting point, but we haven’t really thought about this. Maybe self-publishing will see some growth because of the political cycle. One of the great things about this platform is that if you need to, you can make your book available in weeks or days. So the speed-to-market is incredible. And that has always been a challenge for tradition publishing platform. I am not saying one should rush a book to market, but political works, particularly during the election season, is exactly the sort of thing that blends into this market.
What is the cost between traditional publishing and self publishing of e books?
If you have a manuscript, say in MS Word, you can create your own cover with our templates in 5 minutes and upload it. It takes a day or two to be available. The US has flagged many IPR issues with India.
When a work is uploaded which rules kick in, the US or Indian?
Copyright is an issue. We make sure that we and our authors are in compliance with different laws in different territories. Germany has some very bizarre laws on what one can publish. US tends to be very non-restrictive, while UK has different liable laws. We have developed innovative internal tools that help us react and ensure that we are in compliance. But we also have to have a trust with the authors.