Jo Henry reports on how Nielsen launched India's first ever lists of bestselling books in Hindi
As Nielsen's recent Indian Book Market Report shows, the Indian book market is extremely diverse. While there are many publishers who print only in vernacular languages, the local-language publishing industry is a largely unorganised segment in the country. Hindi is the largest vernacular-language publishing segment, with more than 40% of the population speaking it - some 480m consumers. However, as one trade publisher said: "The vernacular-language segment is definitely growing, especially Hindi. But this segment is very price sensitive."
In August 2017, in an attempt to understand more about the Hindi-language market, Nielsen Book India launched a Hindi bestseller list, measuring sales in three categories: adult fiction, adult non-fiction, and books in translation.
For the first ever Hindi bestseller list, the April-June 2017 sales of relevant books (published in Hindi on or after 1 January 2011) were included, with sales data collected monthly from 80 bricks-and-mortar bookshops in 39 Hindi speaking towns across India. In addition, all data already collected on Hindi book sales through the BookScan system, including online retailers, was collated, with data aggregated to produce robust quarterly bestseller lists. In order to be as useful as possible for the industry, the information supplied by each bookstore included ISBN, quantity sold, net price sold at, and the time/date of the sale. The ISBN is matched to Nielsen's bibliographic database to validate and identify the book, and to ensure that the new bestseller lists provide high-quality information commensurate with the information already being produced via Nielsen BookScan India.
The initiative is supported by Dainik Jagran, the flagship newspaper brand from Jagran Prakashan, one of India's leading media companies. The bestseller lists will be printed in the Dainik Jagran on a quarterly basis, and are part of the paper's "Hindi hain hum" ("We Are Hindi") campaign.
The first lists reveal a fascinating insight into just what books the Hindi consumer is buying these days, with one publisher - Hind Yugm Westland - dominating the fiction bestseller list, and Westland Ltd dominating the translation book list, where the author Amish Tripathi held positions 2, 3, 4 and 5.
A ceremony was held on 24 August in New Delhi to unveil the very first Hindi bestseller lists, with guests from all areas of the Indian book market attending, including the ceo of Jagran Prakashan Group and editor-in-chief of Dainik Jagran, Sanjay Gupt, and the senior vice president of Jagran Prakashan Group, Basant Rathore. Sanjay Gupt welcomed the new initiative, saying: "There is a popular belief that English is overpowering Hindi in India. We wanted Hindi, and the people and culture related to it, to get their due honour. It's important to honour the literature in order to honour the language itself. We joined hands with Nielsen in order to bring a transparent and credible list based on international methodology." The second Hindi bestseller lists will be published in November.
The translation of books into regional languages is an important market that caters to a vast diversity of people in the country. However, a few specialised categories are generally published only in English, owing to their niche audiences.
Dilli Darbaar, Vyas, Satya (Hind Yugm Westland)
Banaras Talkies, Vyas, Satya (Hind Yugm)
Musafir Cafe, Dubey, Divya Prakash (Hind Yugm Westland)
Namak Swadanusar, Sachan, Nikhil (Hind Yugm)
Prem Kabootar, Kaul, Manav (Hind Yugm Westland)
Main Mann Hoon, Trivedi, Deep (Aatman Innovations)
Meri Kahaani Meri Jubani Krishna, Trivedi, Deep (Aatman Innovations)
Musafir, Badra, Bashir (Manjul Publishing House)
Kahani Communisto Ki, Deo, Sandeep (Bloomsbury)
Kuchh Ishq Kiya Kuchh Kam Kiya, Mishra, Piyush (Rajkamal Prakashan)
Devlok Devdutt Pattanaik Ke Sang, Pattanaik, Devdutt (Penguin)
Meluha Ke Mritunjay, Tripathi, Amish (Westland Ltd)
Vayuputrom Ki Shapath: Shiva Rachna Traya 3, Tripathi, Amish (Westland Ltd)
Ikshvaku Ke Vanshaj, Tripathi, Amish (Westland Ltd)
Nagaon Ka Rahasya, Tripathi, Amish (Westland Ltd)
Photo (left to right): Mr Tarun Gupta, Mr Sanjay Gupta and Mr Narendra Kohli celebrating the launch of Nielsen BookScan-Dainik Jagram's new Hindi bestseller list.
Jo Henry is vp, insight & analytics at Nielsen Book.
This article first appeared in the Publishers Weekly/BookBrunch Frankfurt Show Daily.