Indian Printer and Publisher celebrates 40 years


Historic meeting at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in South Bombay on 30 July 1979 to discuss the use of computers for implementing Indian scripts for typesetting and other applications. Amongst those attending and shown in the photograph are LS Wakankar, Naresh Khanna, K Panchanathan, Gopal Krishna Modi,  Bhatt and GVK Reddy. Others taking part but not shown in this photo included Drs. Narasimhan, Havanur, LS Mudur, Piyush Ghosh and RK Joshi. 

Since Indian Printer and Publisher published its first issue as a monthly technical newsletter in April 1979, the current issue marks forty years of publication and the beginning of our 41st year. It also marks forty years of our ethical consultancy, research and conference business, which has financially supported the publication and which continues to this day with a project that will take place in the coming weeks.

In 2001, we put the consultancy, training, research and conference business under IppStar (which stands for Ipp Services, Training and Research). In January 2007, the publishing part of the company also started Packaging South Asia.

In an era where there was not much business or technical information about our fragmented industry, our magazine and our conferences perhaps brought information and even knowledge to printers who were hungry for information and some connection with the rapid and daunting changes in technology. Although reflecting personal experience and insights, our information was not personal – to a large extent it was general but tried to look at new technology through the filter of an industry with many local constraints. Fortunately, our print industry exists in a very rapidly growing economy and in a society that values education and is fiercely interested in politics.

Coincidently, digital technology and offset printing have been enablers for our society and industry. A common thread of technology evolution runs from computer-aided typesetters, to PostScript which enabled output in languages and scripts, digital color scanners and photography, digital proofers and presses, right to the internet which enables web-to-print and the simultaneity of newspaper pages and the internet of things where presses talk to folding machines and smart phones and maintenance engineers in the cloud.

Today, we have an industry in which highly educated fiber optics, robotics and print engineers and management graduates have inherited printing businesses that they run with great aplomb and guide into the future. They are a credit to the print pioneers who have educated them widely without fear of their migration to other fields and who have also built an industry which offers them opportunity and growth.

Happily the new generation of print business persons are very sure of themselves. Their education, financial security and familiarity with new technology allows them a very personal and immediate relationship to business information and technical knowledge. The shrinking world has literally played into their hands.

For us as B2B publishers and ethical consultants and researchers, the opportunity is there to leverage our experience, learn some new tricks and grow for another 40 years. However, this growth will depend on the young professionals that we are able to attract and who are able to take ownership of the opportunities as well as the need to adapt to a new information order and a changing marketplace.

Over the years we have asked for help from many and most have given it instantly although there were some memorable conversations over the years with those who asked what was in it for them. We thank the countless individuals and companies that have helped us over the years. For us this has never been a sunset industry and we look forward to the challenges ahead.

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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