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Last Updated : Jul 08, 2019 06:46 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Budget 2019: Publishers to seek clarity on 5% customs duty on books

The government has imposed a 5 percent customs duty on imported books to boost domestic publishing

M Saraswathy

Imported books will become expensive as the Union Budget 2019 has imposed a 5 percent customs duty. The duty increase that will apply to books of all kinds, has sent publishers into a tizzy. Sources told Moneycontrol the publishing industry will seek clarification from the finance ministry on whether educational books will be excluded from this list.

“A high percent of books used in higher education are published abroad. A customs duty hike would directly mean an increase in prices for the educational material. We are hoping that educational material is excluded from this list,” said the India head of a large educational books publishing house.

In her budget speech, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that to encourage domestic publishing and printing industry, 5 percent customs duty is being imposed on imported books.


The publishing industry in India is worth almost $7.5 billion. Of this, English-language books dominate sales and of these, about 20-30 percent books for educational purposes are imported. Students from lower economic backgrounds would have to shell out more money from the same books in the future.

Even within the publishing industry, there are printed books (including covers for printed books) and printed manuals. These include softcover, hardcover as well as loose-leaf binder books.

“E-versions of the books will continue to be cheaper, but not all students can afford them,” said the professor of a Delhi-based engineering institute.

While leisure reading has moved to digital versions, educational material is still in paper format. A 5 percent customs duty on these books would either mean that students pay more money or find alternative local content.

It is likely that purchases made through the e-commerce mode will come pre-bundled with the additional cost.

In streams like engineering or management where a large proportion of international books are used, the impact would be much higher. Educational institutions order books in bulk to enable easier access for the students and also cut costs.
First Published on Jul 8, 2019 06:46 pm