Indonesia is the market focus at this year’s London Book Fair. Before packing your bags, take a moment to read up on this fascinating market.
Made up of over 17 000 islands between the Indian and Pacific oceans, Indonesia has only recently been able to grow its publishing industry. Until 1998, the country was under a quasi-dictatorship that tightly controlled its literary culture. The industry slowly developed itself, and after being Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair 2015, has been able to benefit from growing government support through the National Book Committee, a branch of their Ministry of Education and Culture.
Indonesia’s publishing industry has a lot to offer. With 250 million inhabitants, it boasts the fourth largest population in the world. Combined with a literacy rate of 94% (higher than India or Brazil) and a growing middle class, Indonesia presents impressive buying potential. Indeed, the Indonesian publishing industry generates an annual net revenue of 466 million USD and in 2013, over 33 million physical books were sold. While there are opportunities for digital expansion, ebooks currently account for 2% of all book sales. Additionally, it is important to note that there are no fixed book prices in Indonesia. Book prices are set by retailers, and distributors take 50% of the sale price.
Indonesian publishers produce 40 000 titles a year, 40 to 60% of which are translations (mostly from English, Arabic, Chinese, Korean or Japanese into Bahasa Indonesian). The country’s publishers actively work with their international counterparts, as demonstrated by the addition of a Rights Fair to the Jakarta Book Fair in 2015. The National Book Committee also offers a translation grant to support foreign publishers who wish to translate an Indonesian work into another language. With such a large percentage of their lists coming from abroad, it is no surprise that Indonesian publishers are eager to work with foreign publishers. Translated titles, largely consist of manga, self-help books, and novels.
There are currently 1,317 publishers registered with Indonesia’s publishing association Ikatan Penerbit Indonesia (IKAPI), 1,200 of which are considered active. The market is dominated by three main players: Gramedia, which also runs a bookstore chain; Mirzan, which focuses mostly on non-fiction; and Erlangga, which specializes in children’s book and school books.
Sales shares in the Indonesian book market can broken down as such (as of 2015):
▪ Children’s books 22.11%
▪ Fiction and literature 12.64%
▪ Religion and spirituality 11.77%
▪ School and curriculum 9.21%
▪ Reference and dictionaries 5.99 %
▪ Other 39%
Indonesian readers and publishers are generally seeking children’s titles, fiction and literature, textbooks, religious titles (Islamic titles account for 30% of the market given that Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority nation), management books, and social science titles. As the largest rights-buyer in South East Asia, and with help from growing support from government and not-for-profits like the Lontar Foundation which supports the translation of Indonesian titles, the country is well placed to becoming a wonderful export market for international publishers.
For more information on this market and its particularities, please see the sources below.
National Book Committee – Translation Grant
Indonesia’s Children’s Market: Opportunities and Challenges
IKAPI – Indonesia’s Publisher Association
Indonesia’s Top Literary Agent says “Think Books, Not Bali!”
Rights Interest Rising: Indonesian Publishers on International Trade
Frankfurt Book Fair Indonesia Info Sheet
The Publishing Industry in Indonesia