The meaning of book and publication under section 80Q & 80QQ of the Income Tax Act is not defined in the act itself. But we can take guidance from decisions by various high courts. Here are excerpts of courts orders in which the Hon’ble High Court tried to explain the meaning of book and publication.
Meaning of book and publication defined by court
The phrase ‘book and publication’ used in section 80Q & 80QQ of the Income Tax Act came up before Hon’ble Mumbai High Court in Tata Infomedia Ltd. vs. Asstt. CIT  20 SOT 14 (MUM.) and it explained.
Meaning : There is no ambiguity about the words ‘book’ and ‘publication’ and, therefore, the plain and natural meaning of these words has to be seen. In terms of the dictionary meaning of the word ‘book’ and catena of decisions on the issue, it is evident that the word ‘book’ is a word of widest amplitude and as per its natural meaning, would include not only literary or scientific book, book of art, law or religion, etc., But also include mere collection of sheets.
Thus, it would include even the exercise books used by the students for writing, books of account like cash book, ledger, registers, etc., Used by the businessmen for writing their accounts of business. Therefore, it would be wrong to contend that ‘book’ would include only literary work or other word authored by someone.
The expression, ‘publication of books’ used by the legislature in section 80Q would refer to only those books which are offered to public in the sense that it enables the public to read or know the contents of the book. Thus, the books which do not contain the reading material would be outside the ambit of the provisions of section 80Q.
Section 80Q & 80QQ of Income Tax Act
Deduction in respect of profits and gains from the business of publication of books.
80Q. (1) Where in the case of an assessee the gross total income of the previous year relevant to the assessment year commencing on the 1st day of April, 1992, or to any one of the four assessment years next following that assessment year, includes any profits and gains derived from a business carried on in India of printing and publication of books or publication of books, there shall, in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this section, be allowed, in computing the total income of the assessee, a deduction from such profits and gains of an amount equal to twenty per cent thereof.
(2) In a case where the assessee is entitled also to the deduction under section 80HH or section 80HHA or section 80HHC or section 80-I or section 80-IA or section 80J or section 80P, in relation to any part of the profits and gains referred to in sub-section (1), the deduction under sub-section (1) shall be allowed with reference to such profits and gains included in the gross total income as reduced by the deductions under section 80HH, section 80HHA, section 80HHC, section 80-I, section 80-IA, section 80J and section 80P.
(3) For the purposes of this section, “books” shall not include newspapers, journals, magazines, diaries, brochures, tracts, pamphlets and other publications of a similar nature by whatever name called.
In this article, you can get guidance from high courts on the meaning of book and publication under section 80Q & 80QQ of the Income Tax Act.
Updated up to Finance Act 2021