Rohit Kumar has recently started his mobile publishing company called Chapter Apps Inc in Silicon Valley and India, focused on the global higher education market.
In a conversation with Kabuliwaala Kamal Pruthi, Rohit Kumar shares the success story of Chapter Apps Inc, challenges of higher education and mobile publishing in India and his opinions on the events like Publishing Next.
What is your current focus?
My primary passion at this point is to bring digital content consumption to the forefront along with a sustainable business model. As part of this, my venture with Guiding Star Digital Publishers and with Chapter Apps are entwined into bringing content as well as technology platforms as a unique offering to our customers.
How did you come up with Chapter Apps Inc. how has the success been so far?
When I joined the publishing industry about 7 years ago from the tech industry, one of the main aspects that struck me was the challenges in making end users/readers aware of what content existed. That coupled with unique 300 year old distribution mechanisms in the publishing industry led me to keep doing multiple experiments in Ecommerce and digital content so that our authors would see their content available everywhere.
That journey reached a very interesting point when we launched the Physiology Learning Mobile App in Elsevier. Within a month over 10,000 users had downloaded the app with zero marketing – and then about 100,000 in the next six months continued to download the app.
That woke me up to the global potential of simplified content available on the mobile, in bite sized chunks….a potential that still has to be reached, and we are on this journey now!
The trend of Mobile Publishing Companies is fairly new in the Indian market. Please throw some light on it.
India has the second largest users of mobiles in the world, and the fastest volume growth market for smartphones. The primary issue is that it is not easy to access content legally on your phone as the combination of the publisher and platform and payments has not come together (see the similarities in the print world : publisher, distributor, retailer and credit issues!)
What aspect of the Publishing Industry interests you the most?
The aspect of the Publishing Industry that I love is that the goal is to spread the word/message/thoughts in various forms – a purpose that can contribute to an individual’s personal and professional growth….what better goals are there in any other industry?
What are the two major challenges in the higher education publishing in India?
Well, the first challenge is that students study more in school and less in higher education! So, even if they buy books, most do not learn as much.
The second challenge is that this leads to focus on just passing the exam – thereby making the real learning and development of the mind for individuals challenging. Long term, is the future just solved papers and answers and the quest for finding a job…or is there any real learning possible?
How can these challenges be overcome?
The overall culture has to increase focus on learning; more research oriented jobs, and roles that enable people to learn by doing would go a long way in terms of making the student learn through experiential learning.
If you were not into publishing industry, what would you be?
I would either be a tech entrepreneur or a publisher….I am doing both today in my unique way!
How do you see your transition from working with organisations like Accenture, Wipro, and Elsevier to starting your own Publishing setup?
I see it as a logical next step of taking all the interests/hobbies as I grew up – from loving books to learning how to write software programs to building products – to really bringing all these aspects into one portfolio of products…am I a publisher or a technology platform – the answer depends on what my customer wants!
What two messages would you like to convey through your talks at Publishing Next 2016?
Well, we as publishers have to learn how to spread the word better than we are doing…and that it takes a lot of effort to learn how to do it properly and costs a lot of money.
And secondly, we need to embrace all platforms that enable our readers to consume content…it is not just about print but also about being able to be like a media company, a TV channel, an Internet Channel/YouTube as well as mobile publishers!
What is your opinion about events like Publishing Next? What role are they playing?
These events bring a lot of likeminded people together who share similar goals either for our organizations or for the industry. An exchange of ideas leads to further development and insights for everyone…that is always a very enriching experience.
PUBLISHING NEXT 2016
Publishing Next is an annual gathering of publishers, authors, editors, translators, librarians, book retailers, printers, technologists, service providers and policymakers from all over India and abroad. The event is organized by Goa-based CinnamonTeal Publishing, since 2011.
Dates: 15th 16th 17th September 2016
Venue: Kochi, Kerala