Indian Academic Publishers haven’t faced an existential threat of COVID-19 proportion before. Now more than ever, they need to focus on the infinite game.
According to game theory, there are two types of tactical gameplays. Finite & Infinite. Finite, though, beneficial in the small run, yields unsatisfactory results in the longer run. A player with a finite-game-mindset focuses on drawing conclusions and making tactical gains on a game that he or she envisions to be smaller than its actual size. Such a player, not only loses out on the longterm stability but also fails to add any value to the business or the industry.
Time To Ride The High Horse
They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Now, that may very well be true but without a patient and persistent hand, Rome couldn’t have been built in centuries either. To create something truly remarkable, be it a civilization that lasts forever or a high yielding business venture, the players involved need to keep the sustainability of the game in mind. They need to play the infinite game.
The great Indian Academic Publishing story is replete with individual brilliance of publishers like Kailash Rawat of Rawat Publications and the guidance of countless professors who asked the right questions of the education system and established a synergetic relationship between Indian Education System and Publishing. Over 90% of publishing space in India is dedicated to academic publishers, which focus on K-12, Higher Education and other International Publications. But given the large and constant readership, publishing as an industry is still struggling. Now there are umpteen bureaucratic reasons and outdated supply chain models that we can point fingers at. But…
…what truly ails the publishing industry?
Answer: The Outlook
Publishing, because of its synergetic relationship with education, too got a serious face. Somehow academic publishing became synonymous with academia. Which is why publishing never got its due. People still find it hard to understand as to what exactly academic publishing entails. And that is partly why Publishing has become a family business rather than an entrepreneurial venture.
Without new ingredients, you can’t have anything new on your plate.
Time To Access The Inaccessible
To play an infinite game, the player has to let go of short-term temptations in order to achieve something that is both long-lasting and self-sustaining.
To put it simply, publishing needs to venture into the exciting world of digital as well as unconventional physical realms. Now if that sounds confusing, go ask a student who doesn’t have access to books because of the lack of infrastructure. Publishing needs to embrace the digital space in order to reach out to more and more people out there. It needs to detach itself from the formal education’s pet corner and fight its own battles.
Now, some publishing houses have moved to the digital space, but there’s still apprehension regarding sustainability. Yes, most of the bulk orders still come from the institutional libraries, and yes the e-book market is still pretty much nascent, but the industry needs to remember that they are the people who decide the rules of engagement, alongside the policymakers. Big players like Sage have already embraced the changes and have come up with their own virtual catalogues alongside digital libraries like Sage E-Vidya.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed the clock of our times. There is something very primitive about it. Evolution is at work. The survival of the fittest has never been so visible to humanity in the recent times. Even with the present penetration of internet, the large populace remains out of touch of the web, at least of the day-to-day or hour-to-hour basis. To fill this space, and grow out of current restrictions, publishing needs to go digital, and break the mould.
In The Circle Of Life, There Is No Space For Piracy
As more and more ways of distribution open up, education as a resource finds more and more ways to reach out to a seeker. Now, piracy in publishing is a big issue. And as digital is the future, instead of fighting the onslaught in a make-or-break manner, the industry needs to side-step and think on its heels. Academic publishers need to embrace digital and make their presence legit by putting out their intellectual property through the digital medium.
Real security is in taking succinct steps with the tunes of the times.
Time To Play The Infinite Game
Like always, the publishing industry finds itself in a whirlwind of influx. And COVID-19 provides a breaking point to the olden ways of publishing. Now, more than ever, publishers need to revise their plans and start preparing for a long haul, instead of just meeting demands through orthodox ways. According to the game theory, it is the player who has his or her eyes both on the present and the future writes the rules of engagement and history.
It is time for the Indian publishers to start playing the infinite game.