Children’s publishing in India is key to human development and cultural advancement. However, the spend on children’s trade books (leisure) in India is miniscule compared to other developing and developed nations.
Despite growth drivers, the future prospects for Indian publishing industry do not appear promising. While the children’s publishing industry at large is innovating new modes of outreach, formats and business structures, there is much more to be done.
Given the market size of Children’s Literature in the Indian Publishing Industry and dearth of reliable data sources, how lucrative is the market for Indian authors to enter and thrive is the real question. With the exception of books by just a couple of coveted Indian authors, only western titles are doing well in the children’s publishing market.
Sign up to get your copy of The NLF Report: Children's Literature in India 2022
Decades of research and our own encounters with books have taught us that a story becomes truly meaningful to a young reader when it resonates with one’s lived experience.
A question that we constantly ask ourselves is how do we make this happen for children across India today? What is the ecosystem that we might need to support this?
When we looked into this some more, we realised that there is little accessible data on the size of the Indian children’s book market. Existing reports either delve into publishing figures or largely comprise anecdotal recommendations.
Our findings point to a lack of funding across the Indian children’s book industry resulting in diminished interest from publishers, distributors, and retailers to push sales. There is low visibility due to the absence of prominent voices in the media to champion good work in the sector. With little impetus to spur them on, creators often feel pressured to produce more books within short spans of time so as to remain in the public eye.
The NLF Report: Children’s Literature in India 2022 seeks to put these factors into context, building on the primary research conducted by Kanishka Gupta, founder of the literary agency, Writer’s Side.
We believe that there is much to do in this space. NLF is announcing Fellowships to support and nurture children’s writing as we know that India has the talent to create bodies of work that are comparable with global greats. However, we also recognize that it takes time for a great book to be written. We would like for young readers today to have access to books where writers and illustrators are able to afford the luxury of time to develop their manuscript at length.
We are looking to build a deeper understanding of the sector by commissioning a study in the coming year that looks at how children’s literature has grown in global markets, and examines the insights that parallel experiences may hold.
This is our endeavour to grow a space that has given each of us so much, and that we hope will continue to do so for our children in the years to come. Happy Reading.
Head of Reading, Neev Academy
Director, Neev Literature Festival