publishing trends

How many copies must a book sell to be a bestseller in India (and why are there so many lists?)

The truth is that there is no one accurate estimate of the sales of a book.

If you’re a reader, you’ll have noticed that in India, there isn’t a clear definition of what a bestselling book means. Sure, there are some clear leaders: the Chetan Bhagats, the Amish Tripathis, the Devdutt Pattnaiks, the Dan Browns. But why does The Asian Age carry one set of books as its weekly bestseller, while The Hindustan Times has a different set of books, and Amazon.in features yet another bestseller list? And what makes a book a bestseller in India?

The answer to the first query is clear: each bestseller list is collated on the basis of different datasets.

At the bottom of the Asian Age Fiction bestseller list is a small notice that reads: Bahrisons, New Delhi. This implies the list of books has been supplied by the venerable bookshop that is almost an institution in Delhi.

In Hindustan Times, the data is provided by Nielsen-Bookscan, the only quantitative dataset we have on the entire Indian book industry:

Then there’s Amazon, whose bestseller list is based on its own algorithms, and constantly checks for actual book sales, combined with historical data analysis, to come up with a bestseller chart:

Between these three, which one should you trust?

Like with most things about books, there’s no simple answer.

If you’re looking at sheer numbers alone, the most quantitatively accurate data will come from Nielsen-Bookscan, which covers online sellers like Amazon and Flipkart and physical booksellers like Crossword. Even so, industry estimates suggest that Bookscan covers about 60 to 70% of the trade book market. So it’s not a comprehensive figure, but it should give you a fair idea of how many copies a book has sold in a year. Bookscan doesn’t release numbers here in India unless you subscribe to its services, but get your hands on Bookseller magazine, which prints fortnightly numbers from Bookscan from across the world, for some benchmarks.

Amazon rankings are based on their own site sales. Considering that it accounts for as much as 40% to 50% of sales for most books, and sometimes even more (unlike mass market books that are available even in the smallest of stores)  – it can be a reasonably accurate measure of how well a book has done in India. Remember, reviews are not taken into consideration in the rankings – it’s pure sales.

The third, that of individual booksellers, is a more limited dataset, for obvious reasons. But it’s also a reflection of the customers that frequent the bookseller. For example, Bahrison’s fiction list quoted above suggests a overwhelming preference for literary titles, with six of the top ten books in that category.

Of course, the most famous bestseller list in the world does not follow any of these rules. The New York Times Bestseller List “rankings reflect unit sales reported on a confidential basis by vendors offering a wide range of general interest titles”, but the exact details about the methodology, or the number of stores, remain a trade secret. The list has often been criticised as being misleading, inaccurate and manipulated, and has also been sued by William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist, for his book Legion not being included in the bestselling charts. (The California Supreme Court ruled against the author in the $3-million suit in 1989.)

Now we come to the second question: How many copies must a book sell to qualify as a bestseller in India?

As someone who has worked in Indian publishing previously, I’d say this is a difficult question. It depends on the goalposts. Say your sales target was 100,000 copies, and you end up selling 70,000 copies  – fewer than what you wanted, but a significant number nonetheless. Would you consider the book a bestseller? And what about the book that you thought would sell only 5,000 copies, but ends up selling 30,000 copies?

As a commissioning editor, I’d look out for the latter. That’s the breakout hit, an unexpected bonus. A Dan Brown, if it sells less than 100,000 copies, has disappointed. But an Ajay K. Pandey, which sells more than 50,000 copies, is a definite bestseller.

But at the end of the day, it’s all about perception. If you’re a debut author, consider 10,000 copies your first barrier. If you can breach it, you’re on your way to bestseller kingdom.

It’s just that even this number is a tough ask now, especially at a time when most novels barely sell 5,000 copies!

This article first appeared on Medium.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

Play

The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.