As the saying goes, when one door closes another door opens. Here in the west, with many of our major economies undergoing prolonged uncertainty or turbulence, it’s easy to be pessimistic about the state of publishing. Yet in developing markets around the world, economic growth, favourable demography and emerging middle classes’ belief in the value of a tertiary education mean demand for good quality scholarly and research content has never been higher.

In the latest in our series of blogs looking at the market opportunities for publishers looking to access the developing world (and vice versa), we look at the scholarly and academic landscape in India, and why this gives us a few reasons to be cheerful.

1. The demographic bulge

We all know that India is one of the world’s great economic success stories, but did you also know that India is home to the world’s third largest higher education system? After China and the United States no one sends more people to college than India.

As of 2011, India had 42 central universities, 275 state universities, 130 deemed universities, 90 private universities, 5 institutions established and functioning under the State Act and 33 Institutes of National Importance. Other institutions include 16,000 colleges, functioning under these universities and institutions. Add to this the fact that India’s continued high birth rate means the country will soon overtake China as the world’s most populous nation, it’s easy to see why it represents a major business opportunity, particularly to English language publishers.

Any scholarly or journal publisher who builds links with the Indian system now stands to benefit in 20 years time as the babies now being born to India’s huge new middle classes reach college age and spur the next growth phase of the country’s higher education sector.

2. Everyone wants English language STM content

As a country that has benefited like few others from advances in technology and science, overwhelming emphasis within the Indian tertiary education sector is placed on STM subjects. For example, a recent study by Duke University estimated that while 70,000 engineers graduated in the US in 2011, India produced a staggering 350,000 engineering graduates in the same year. This bias towards STM subjects is partially driven by social factors, as many people in India perceive scientific or technical degrees as having a higher economic value. Yet just as important as this in many cases is the ability to read and write English fluently, as this is also seen as a critical step towards securing a career in international business.

This means that English language STM publishers are in an ideal position to fulfil Indian students’ voracious appetite for high quality research content that also gives them the opportunity not only to perfect their general English but also master the technical terms within their chosen fields.

3. The move to digital has reduced the risk of piracy

Historically publishers may have viewed India as a risky market, as it was common for print journals to be pirated and illegally distributed. Here, however, the migration towards digital format journals has had a positive effect, making it much more difficult for pirates to access content illegitimately in the first place. Government intervention has also results in tighter controls over the publishing market, while the growing size of the market in general has increased the number of high value sales opportunities presented to publishers.

While the risk of piracy has been reduced, however, it has still not been eliminated. Consequently it’s of that publishers and intermediaries safeguard their brands by engaging in the right relationships and by partnering with known agents and trusted partners only.