New Focus for BookExpo America

BookExpo 2017

A 3D book at BookExpo 2017. Photo: IPP

BookExpo America is a book fair that has gained some relevance, lately, for Indian professionals in the fields of rights trading, distribution, retail, and services to the US publishing industry. Every year, a handful of Indian companies attend the show, directly or through local representatives. This year again, the Indian scene mainly consisted of printers and other service providers without a stand, or they registered under their US subsidiaries, and two exhibitors formally registered as Indian operators: prepress and conversion services company Newgen, and Kataria, specialized in publishing books on engineering.

For more than two decades, BookExpo America has been struggling to define its position between the American book market and the latter’s main trading platforms in Europe (Frankfurt, London and, for children’s books, Bologna). Attempts to develop a balanced mix of trade visitors and visitors from the general public remained unsatisfactory and kept changing from year to year. The creation of BookCon, a separate event for the general public launched in 2014, didn’t keep non-trade visitors from flooding publishers’ stands. Irregularly changing locations between New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, contributed to the image of a local show rather than an international one.

At this year’s fair in New York, organizers Reed Exhibitions tried to redress the situation by narrowing down the focus of each of the two connected events—BookCon and Book Expo—while dropping the “America” tag altogether in the name of the show. BookExpo has been reduced to two professional days with more restricted attendance conditions, while BookCon was not held in parallel but on the two subsequent weekend days. Unlike previous editions, BookExpo’s Market Forum sessions were not limited to one country but addressed publishing issues in the Middle East, Europe, and China, as well as rights trading. In this move, Reed Exhibitions could draw on expertise it has accumulated as the owner of not only the BookExpo, but also of the London, Tokyo, Paris and Sao Paulo book fairs and the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair.

In another effort to better focus the show, Reed had moved all major conferences and workshops to the day before BookExpo, including the International Digital Publishing Forum, the Book Bloggers meeting, the Buzz Panel, the American Booksellers Association’s luncheon, and several publishing pitch sessions. For BookCon, Reed had improved the interaction between publishers, authors, booksellers, and consumers, by making such arrangements as reading sessions, author markets, autographing areas, and its own ReedPop merchandizing shop. BookExpo with 675 exhibitors and BookCon with 400 exhibitors had a footfall of some 20,000 visitors each, this year.

The next BookExpo will be held on 31 May 31 and 1 June 2018, followed by BookCon on 2 and 3 June 2018, both at the Javits Center, New York.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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