Economy, Business And Markets

Publishing Industry Gripped by Unprofessionalism

Publishing Industry Gripped by UnprofessionalismPublishing Industry Gripped by Unprofessionalism

The current Iranian year (to end March 19, 2016) saw a 12% decline in the number of copies of books published in the country compared to that of last year, said the deputy culture minister for cultural affairs.

Seyyed Abbas Salehi also said in the opening ceremony of the Mashhad International Book Fair in October, “A deeper slowdown is seen in Iran’s book publishing industry in comparison with the country’s economic recession.”

The growth or decline of a country’s publishing industry is usually in tandem with the performance of its economy, but such is not the case in Iran. The sorry state of book industry is to largely blame on its publishers being unprofessional rather than the low rate of reading in the country, Forsat-e Emrooz reported.

Production and distribution of books, like other consumer goods, is an intricate, economic mechanism that can contribute to economic growth if done professionally, but what percentage of Iranian publishers produce books based on business rules?

Only one-third, or 4,000 book publishers, are active among the total of 12,000 licensed publishers and they mostly follow a traditional process in book production.

Generally, authors work in isolation. Once they complete their books, they refer to publishers. There is often no ready market for the books they write. There may be a large potential readership, but the great majority of authors have no practical way to reach that audience.

Given the popularity of the author and the content of the book, publishers step in and sign contracts. They print the book after securing the go-ahead from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.  A well-known writer can choose among thousands of publishers in Iran. In fact, what determines the existence of a book is the connections their writers might have or whether their content appeals to the publishers.

Unfortunately, publishers often turn down worthy books, just because the book’s author is not well known.

In view of the situation described above, only the very famous would be able to write and sell those books and make a living.

Apart from a handful of publishers, most publishers enter the industry without prior experience or knowledge. They do not carry out economic needs analysis for different types of books and embark on printing books according to their own ballpark estimates.

Book publishing must be based on research in order to become a profitable investment. It needs a professional business manager capable of running an organized system of book production and distribution.