10 Developments the industry will watch in 2017


The New Year is a time for some recap. Instead of thinking of resolutions of the year gone by, which mostly go unfulfilled and make us feel uneasy, this one is an aspiration... So, here’s a wish list of the 10 developments that the industry will watch.

Copyright – Photocopying

The Delhi University photocopying case is the most significant one that the industry will be following. The 58 page judgment restored the copyright suit brought by international publishers against a photocopy shop on Delhi University’s (DU) campus in order to determine whether or not copyrighted material was being used in the course of instruction.
The copyright law already has a balance between what is protected and what can be legitimately used without permission. The question of ‘fair use’ will be the key outcome.

CBSE Schools

CBSE now and then reiterates its stand that prescribing too many textbooks and coercing parents and children to buy them is not a good practice. Along with this they also murmur that it is educationally unsound, especially since NCERT textual materials are the base for preparing test items in the board examination. What will be the final outcome? Remember that schools don’t take notice of CBSE circulars, the good example is their advisory that schools should not be permitted to sell private books at all and in particular the sale of stationery material in school premises.

EduTech (Digital India)

The Buzz is that in the next five years venture capital investments will flow into education technology. Where will the money go? Are the investments concentrated and charting a future course? I will attend the BETT show in late January 2017 and will share the trends and my learning in the next issues.

FDI in e-commerce

Brick-and-mortar stores vs. Indian e-commerce companies and the Government’s role is going to be a major game changer. Will the Government allow FDI supported multi-brand retail companies utilising the e-commerce route to sell their products? Will the Government permit the likes of Amazon to go direct to customer (B2C), instead of the marketplace model?

GST

Yet another document in the public domain, 192 pages and 162 sections and we as an industry are looking for what? The tax slaps are fixed at zero, 5, 12, 18 & 28%. What is the publishing industry shooting for and what is the lobbyist recommending? Another outcome that will be keenly watched this year. Don’t remind me of the word ‘pub’ or ‘bar’ anymore, it is a sin!

M & A

Initial public offering (IPO) is in news about a major educational publisher. Will this trend continue? Will there be consolidation? Venture capitalists and Institutional investors will help with the consolidation of the market. Numbers of successful Indian publishing houses are family owned and that widens the opportunity for acquisitions.

New Delhi World Book Fair

Will keep this short. Will there be a book fair in 2018? Could NBT and/or ITPO make early announcements? This will help planning immensely.

Parallel Imports

Australian Government’s draft report in Intellectual Property arrangements has recommended lifting of Australia’s parallel importation rules (PIRs) on books.
Yet another sticky policy issue that the Indian Government also has to address.

Skill Development

Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship has initiated a process of assessments. This is not part of MHRD remit. New opportunities are emerging for the publishing industry. I see this, well-funded education as the big opportunity in the year 2017.

Syllabus

Will there be a timeline/accountability to announce the National Curriculum Framework? While the CBSE has announced the resurrection of class X exams, what curriculum should the students be preparing for? NCF 2005? This requires urgent attention from the Government. This policy document is more important than the election manifesto.


The Rule of One, reading’s minimum threshold


What do Bill Gates, Amitabh Bachchan, and Barack Obama have in common? Of course, they are all successful and famous, but all three of them are also avid readers. Indeed, despite their busy schedule, these icons reserve time to read on a regular basis. Reading has many benefits. At the minimum, reading raises awareness about current events and trends (as well as ongoing fads and fashions). When done well, reading also expands one’s horizons, broadens the worldview, and brings greater meaning to life and work. Finally, and at a somewhat more mundane level, reading expands vocabulary, strengthens verbal and linguistic ability, and sharpens communicational skills.

Notwithstanding its many benefits, reading is underappreciated in our modern world. When vast amounts of information seems to be available at the click of a button and audio-visual stimuli from a variety of sources constantly threaten to overwhelm the senses,

it becomes hard to inculcate the discipline for regular reading. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, ‘reading deficit’ has emerged as a rampant problem throughout the world, with its potency especially high in countries like India. Few people take the time to read on a regular basis, making them more vulnerable to misinformation, ignorance, and fiction masquerading as fact. Over the years, I have come to emphasise what I call ‘The Rule of One’ (specifically, 1-1-1) as a way to alleviate the deepening reading deficit. The ‘rule of one’ is powerful, yet deceptively simple: One newspaper a day, one magazine a week, and one book a month. Those who maintain the discipline to read at least one good newspaper daily, one relevant magazine weekly, and one interesting book monthly will find that they were able to considerably deepen and broaden their knowledge. The temporal requirements for following the ‘rule of one’ are also not very demanding, so that almost every person around the world can make the time needed for disciplined reading in their everyday life.


My profession (as a college professor) has enabled me to take ‘the rule of one’ to various audiences, including young students, retired and working executives, and entrepreneurs in many countries around the world. I have been impressed with the universal appeal of the power-of-one rule, and how a person at any stage in life in any country can easily follow this rule. Sure, some people have asked questions and expressed concerns about the rule, but these questions and concerns tend to be about the implementation of one-rule rather than the logic of its formulation. The most interesting concern I remember hearing about the rule is whether 12 books annually is a low target to aspire for. Given that most people I meet in my professional life read less than 5 books a year (if that!), my response to the concern about the number of books has been to say that 12 (that is, one book a month) is the minimum threshold. Avid readers are welcome to read as many books as they can.


In case you are still thinking about the opening examples I used, in addition to his regular reading of newspaper, magazines, and books, Bill Gates also takes one week off annually to read various recommended books and think about their short-term implications and long-term consequences for industry and society. You can call it a readingcation if you want: Reading+ Vacation. Gates seems to subscribe to the notion that public policy and business strategy originates from ongoing conversations in newspapers, magazines, and books. At this stage, would you be surprised that the intellectual bases for demonetisation—the most ground-breaking economic policy of 2016—was first laid out in a book? I hope you will seriously consider my call to make ‘the rule of one’ an integral part of your life