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What made HBP to come to India now?
Recent years have witnessed several prominent publishers establishing a direct presence in India. This can be attributed to several factors like easing of FDI regulations and declining growth in home markets, combined with the fact that India offers unique structural,demographic and economic advantages. Recent CII research suggests that India is the fastest growing book market in the English language world with growth rates ranging from 10-30 per cent across genres. It has the second largest population in the world, the largest population of people under the age of 25 and the maximum English-speaking people globally.

It is some of these factors that have driven Harvard Business Publishing to recognise the strategic importance of the Indian market, and choose India as the destination for its first international office. The needs of India’s growing number of developing managers and established leaders, present a terrific opportunity for HBP.

What are the kinds of authors/genres you plan to bring on board? Will the mandate be any different for India when it comes to choosing genres/titles?
Our content is more relevant now in the downturn, with businesses having to place a huge premium on leadership development. One major distinction between other book publishers and us is the range of markets we serve and diversity in publishing platforms. For individual managers, we publish Harvard Business Review, the leading magazine of business thought and practice; books on business and management; a growing digital platform via HarvardBusiness.org and HBR.org, where managers gain timely insights into business topics and issues. For the academic market, we offer an unparalled collection of business case studies from Harvard Business School and other schools, as well as videos, simulations, and other online teaching materials. The third market segment, which is our fastest growing segment in India, is the corporate learning business and here we offer an online collection of modules, and customised solutions for developing managers and leaders.

The range will include both authored titles as well as our branded collections on a range of management topics for practitioners. Our content spans management topics such talent development, HR, innovation, strategy, change management, leadership, sustainability, IT management, and communication. In the next year, we expect to bring out about 50 new titles.

We plan to increasingly source content from Indian leaders with innovative ideas and practices to share with our audiences in India and the rest of the world. Currently, we have commissioned a number of books by Indian leaders, including two books by Vikram Akula, Chairman and Founder of SKS Microfinance and one by Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies.

Besides offering our list (including the entire backlist) in India, the business in India will also service the needs of other South Asian markets like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

And how do you plan to avoid the pitfalls of book publishing revolving around similar topics. For instance, the market is full of books on slowdown at the moment.
As in the past, we hope to rise above the crowd due to a few critical differentiators. These are:
The quality and authenticity of our content and authors, whoare recognised experts in their field;
The fact that our books are practitioner oriented and provide practical solutions that can be used by managers in their roles immediately;
The diversity in formats we offer our customers. These include articles, books, online discussions, videos, e-learning, audio, and mobile learning.

What is the kind of investment you are making at the moment in terms of signing up an author, setting up, etc.? What is the agenda for the Indian arm of HBP?
We are making material investments in areas such developing a high calibre local team, sourcing and publishing Indian authors, adapting pricing and content to bring in an Indian context where appropriate, promoting our authors and titles, warehousing and fulfillment capabilities, and ensuring adequate stocking levels to meet the needs of our customers for even deep backlist and niche titles.

Our India office is headquartered in Mumbai with teams that now work with all three of the market segments we serve – individual managers,business schools, and companies.
The agenda for our India business, stated broadly, is twofold: First, to enhance awareness of our brands, products and solutions and to establish ourselves as a leader in our three target markets. Second, we plan to source and publish innovative ideas and best practices emerging from India for our global audience – this could be in the form of HBR articles, books, case studies, and digital offerings.

What according to you would be your immediate course of action in spreading the word? Will there be acquisitions in the offing?
Fortunately for us, awareness levels of our brand are fairly high in India given that our products such as Harvard Business Review, our books and HBS case studies have been available here for several years. We have specific plans in place to promote our products and authors, through increased presence at retail stores, author tours and events, cross media collaboration, and direct interaction with our end customers – this would happen through our sales team, distribution partners, events and importantly, the growing community of emerging and senior managers engaging on our website. The number of visitors and participation on our website from the Indian audience is the highest amongst all markets outside the US and continues to grow at a healthy pace.

We are unlikely to pursue any corporate acquisitions in India – our growth plans in India are organic, and the only acquisitions we source are that of breakthrough management ideas to publish for our audience in India and globally.

Do you think Indian publishing is going in the right direction? And would you also be interested in selling e-books of titles published out of India?
There are several encouraging trends for the Indian publishing industry, specifically the business publishing segment, which still is still growing in double digit rates. Trends like growing organised retail, increasing business education, corporate growth, growing presence of international publishers, and growing interest in India-sourced content globally, bode well for the publishing market here and for Harvard Business Publishing specifically.

We have already digitised almost all our books and our clients can purchase individual chapters electronically on our website. This is proving to be increasingly popular with the academic and corporate markets for their training modules. We are also expanding partnerships to make our content available through new technologies like the Kindle.