New Focus for BookExpo America

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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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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