Where Books Mean Business

jaipur bookmark
Apart from the general business sessions

The Indian publishing industry is at the center of global attention: in 2017, the total size of the Indian book market was pegged at US$ 4.6 billion, according to a Nielsen report, making India the second-largest English language publishing industry in the world.

Jaipur BookMark (JBM) is focused on the business of books and translations and brings together key players who are the driving force behind the growth of this industry. JBM, which began in 2014, provides a B2B platform for publishers from around the world to come together and discuss different aspects of the trade. Over the past five years, JBM has evolved into an important forum which brings together publishers, literary agents, writers, translators and book-sellers to ‘talk business’ through focused sessions and roundtable discussions.

The fifth edition of JBM took book lovers through the journey and metamorphosis of a book—from stimulating discussions with aspiring writers, literary agents and publishers to book cover designers, graphic artists, and audio and digital platform providers.

JBM was held from 24-28 January 2018 at the Durbar Hall in Diggi Palace.

Day 1 of the event centered round four crucial sessions. ‘For the Love of Books’ with Akshaya Rautaray, Satabdi Mishra, Tilak Sharma, Nikko Odiseos, Shruti Sharma, moderated by Urvashi Butalia, celebrated unusual booksellers and curators who infused new life into promoting and preserving books with innovative publishing and reading ideas like leaving books on the metro as a treasure hunt, walking book fairs and bringing out books on interesting practices such as Tibetan Buddhist traditions. While ‘Books that Speak: The future of audio’ discussed the potential of audio books, ‘Resurgence of Print’ brought back the printed page to center-stage, and asked whether readers still take refuge in print. ‘English Language Publishing: The Indian Market’ delved into the position of the Indian publishing market in the global landscape.


Day 2 of the event brought together a roundtable discussion on the ‘Publishing Process and Policy Perspectives’ with eminent publishers such as Ananth Padmanabhan, Manas Saikia, Robert Watkins, Urvashi Butalia, Renu Kaul, Ian de Toffoli, Bijal Vachharajani, Rita Choudhary, K. Sreenivas Rao and Ratnesh Jha, in conversation with Atiya Zaidi. ‘Bestselling: The Indian Way’ spoke of the how and why of Indian bestsellers; ‘Educational Publishing: Towards an Expanding Knowledge Base’ discussed the growing concerns in the domain of academic publishing; and ‘Enhancing the Book’ introduced the audience to new and innovative dimensions of the book in the digital age. The day concluded with a session celebrating book covers.

On Day 3, the ‘Vitaran: Distribution and Outreach in Indian Publishing’ discussion talked about the impact and distribution of books in Indian languages. This was followed by a fascinating session on ‘The Role of Art in the Book Industry’. The session on ‘Digital Narratives’ involved a celebrated panel, including Anurag Kashyap, Karan Anshuman, Anish Chandy, Pankaj Dubey, Gaurav Solanki, Arpita Das, Anu Singh Choudhary, Kathy Reichs, Akshaye Rathi, Shailesh Bharatwasi and Sameer Nair in conversation with Vani Tripathi Tikoo and was held on Day 4. The panel discussed the latest trends in digital media and the potential of web streaming platforms in the new age to harness the power of great stories.

The last day, Day 5, featured an Agents Open House with Mita Kapur, Preeti Gill, Kelly Falconer, Pierre Astier, and Hans Petter Bakketeig in conversation with Anuj Bahri. The session ‘Mind is your Business: Divine texts and the mortal art of bookselling’ gave insights into the publishing and selling of religious texts. The agents and some select publishers also mentored a group of young first-time writers under The First Book Club New Writers Mentorship Programme. Around 25 shortlisted participants were invited to attend the festival on Day 5, and given individual feedback by an expert panel of publishers, literary agents, writers and translators.

Welcoming attendees, JBM co-director and publisher Neeta Gupta said, “Through a series of dialogues on the business of books and translation we hope to spark a greater interest in South Asian writing.”

JBM played host to the hugely successful Festival Directors’ Roundtable on Day 4, bringing together over 20 of the world’s most successful festival directors who discussed their many challenges; announcements of three major industry awards were made: the Vani Foundation Distinguished Translator Award, the Romain Rolland Prize for translations from French to Indian languages, and the Oxford Book Cover Prize.

Speaking about JBM 2018, ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival Co-Director Namita Gokhale said, “It has been heartening to watch Jaipur BookMark, the publishing segment of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, grow from strength to strength over the last five years. It has evolved into a vibrant hub and intersection for the Indian and international publishing community and an important catalyst for translations from and into the Indian languages and from around the world. ”

Festival producer Sanjoy Roy commented, “The Jaipur BookMark has created a much-needed platform for translation and for publishers, agents and digital businesses to come together to discuss and debate the needs of this growing industry.”

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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