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India Literature and Publishing Sector Study




The British Council is the UK's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. For the development of its Literature Programme, the British Council wanted a needs-based analysis to identify new partners and stakeholders who the British Council might collaborate with (moving beyond the usual suspects or relying on pre-existing UK-India relationships).


The British Council wished to conduct research into India’s trade publishing and literature sectors, identifying opportunities for internationalisation and challenges and issues faced by publishers and other literature organisations from working and collaborating more internationally, specifically with the UK. India has 427 recognised languages, with 22 official languages, yet most Indian literature known globally has been written in English, with very little Indian literature in translation making it to western markets. The sector research focus was on publishers, writers and literature organisations working in India’s Official Languages (not English) and on consulting with individual trade publishers, writers, translators and literary agents.


The research was structured in line with the scope and aims of the project. First, it involved a broad mapping of the publishing industry and gaining initial insights through desk research and preliminary quantitative analysis. Secondary research was also informed by publisher catalogues, rights reports from international book fairs and media coverage of rights sales from publications such as All About Publishing and Publishing Perspectives. This approach will be richly justified with interviews, focus group discussions, and secondary research that aimed to understand the current scenario for regional language publishing in the country, considering questions such as how the increasing penetration of English is affecting the industry, how digital innovation is shaping the future of reading in regional languages, the economics of book publishing such as contractual arrangements and royalty splits, the impact of government initiatives (both at state and national level) on the industry, as well as the impact of COVID-19.

Year: December 2020 - May 2021


100 stakeholders were consulted spanning 77 interviews and 5 focus group discussions involving 33 participants. 

An internal report containing specific recommendations was produced for the British Council to inform the development of its future strategies and program development, especially with regard to its publishing and literature programs with Indian stakeholders.

A public version accessible for the community is slated to be ready by end-November. This public summary of the report will be translated and released in 12 different languages. 

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