In India, more and more bookworms who read in Hindi and other regional languages are shopping online.
In the last six months, Amazon, the world’s largest bookstore, has found its sale of Hindi books in India rise by 60%. Alongside, there is an increase in supply from authors, with the selection of Hindi books seeing a 40% jump in the same period.
Amazon India launched its online Hindi bookstore in April last year, with 23,000 titles across different genres: literature, fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, and biographies. Writings by some of the most popular and prolific Hindi authors, including Premchand, Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, and Harivansh Rai Bachchan were included. It also made available reference books for jobs and college admissions, Hindi translations of English bestsellers, and language-learning books.
“With increasing internet penetration and ease of buying Hindi books online, book lovers are increasingly buying books in Hindi,” Noor Patel, Amazon India’s director for category management, told the news agency, Press Trust of India. “The Hindi-speaking population in India is vast and runs into many crores.”
Amazon India now has around 30,000 titles, including top-sellers like Amish Tripathi’s Ikshvaku Ke Vanshaj (translated from the original English novel, Scion of Ikshvaku) and Meluha Ke Mritunjay (translated from The Immortals of Meluha).
Orders for Hindi titles are placed mostly from buyers in tier II and tier III cities, including Bhatinda, Rajahmundry, Solan, Ranikhet, Joshimath, Darbhanga, Buxar, Bharuch, Hissar, Dhanbad, and Kolhapur.
“Hindi translations of English novels have been popular traditionally,” Patel said. “But we have witnessed that there is a growing niche audience for original Hindi classics and Hindi novels as well.”
That popularity was evident in Amazon India’s online year-end reader’s poll for 2014, in which a Hindi title, Colaba Conspiracy, by prolific crime fiction writer Surendra Mohan Pathak beat English author Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend to emerge as the highest voted book.
Amazon India declined to answer Quartz’s queries on the number of English and Hindi books they sell every year and the rise in the sale of number of Hindi books in absolute terms.