SAGE India shuts publishing operation

Citing the pandemic and “other economic factors” SAGE India, a leading publisher of academic books, said on Thursday it was closing its publishing operation but would continue its “strong imported books” sales and journals publishing programme in India and that it was “actively looking for a new home” for its book titles.

“Over the past few years, we have experienced a particularly challenging business environment for book publishing in India due to the pandemic and other economic factors and as a result we have decided to close the SAGE India book publishing operation,” Smrithi Sudhakaran, Senior Manager-Marketing, SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd, said in a statement to IANS.

“This decision is very specific to books and does not impact our thriving journals publishing program, as well as our strong imported books sales in India. We are actively looking for a new home for our book titles and will make an announcement as soon as we are able. Meanwhile our book publishing operation is active until the point we transition it. We are continuing to support our authors and keeping in contact with them through this process.

“Sadly, this decision inevitably is resulting in exit of some of our employees. Our aim is to carry out the transition with utmost respect and care to our people and we are helping them with extra ex gratia payments for easier transition as well as enabling access to outplacement services to assist them in finding placements,” Sudhakaran said.

Reports of SAGE India shutting its publishing operations had surfaced last week following a letter from its US-based CEO Blaise R. Simqu that also cited “significant challenges and the pandemic”.

“We have recently made a very difficult but carefully thought through decision about the SAGE India book program. Over many years now our attempts to make domestic book publishing at SAGE India commercially viable have faced significant challenges and the pandemic has only made it more problematic. What we have reluctantly and unfortunately concluded is that despite these many efforts the combination of low-price points and the lack of an established adoption market as well as other external factors (including the prevailing Covid situation) have proved an impossible hurdle for us to climb despite our best efforts over the past several years… While we remain committed to our mission to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and to educate a global community, we have decided to divest the SAGE India book program,” the letter said.

“We want to reinforce that this decision is very specific to books, it does not affect our thriving domestic and imported journal publishing, nor the marketing and selling into India of imported Sage books that continues to be an important part of the international book program…,” the letter, signed by Simqu and Sonia Kumar, executive lead for SAGE India and finance director, said.

SAGE was founded in New York in 1965 and is currently headquartered in California. Its India arm was established by founder and chair Sara Miller McCune in 1981 together with George McCune and Tejeshwar Singh. The publishing house specialises in books on social science, medicine, technology, science and humanities.

The publications division of Sage India is the second to go under this year after the Indian arm of global e-tailer Amazon in February shut down Westland that it had acquired in 2017 and which published a range of popular and literary fiction, food and cooking, spirituality and self-help, biographies, health and wellness, history, general reference and travel books.

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