Jaipur BookMark gains traction alongside JLF

Neeta Gupta talks about JBM

Jaipur BookMark
Jaipur BookMark 2018

The Jaipur BookMark publishing professional event that takes place along with the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival will be held from 23-26 January 2019 at the DIGGI Palace in Jaipur. The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival attracts about half a million participants from across the world, ranging from literary enthusiasts to bloggers, aspiring writers and book trade people. In the last six years, Jaipur BookMark has emerged as a rich business segment of the festival.

JBM aims to help writers, publishers and translators bridge the gap by coming together on a single platform to talk about their challenges and learn from the best practices around the world.

Neeta Gupta, co-director of Jaipur BookMark

Neeta Gupta is the co-director of Jaipur BookMark. She is also the publisher at Yatra Books and editor and joint secretary at the Bhartiya Anuvad Parishad, a not-for-profit organization promoting translations between Indian languages. Speaking to Indian Printer & Publisher about Jaipur BookMark 2019, Gupta said, “Ever since its inception in 2014, Jaipur BookMark has seen a steady growth not just in the numbers of people who participate at these business sessions, but also in terms of partners. We have had the steady support of the Norwegian Literature Abroad (NORLA) and the Norwegian Embassy for the last six years. The Australian Arts Council has been sending a delegation of publishers and festival directors to Jaipur for the last five years and this year we will see a ten member delegation from France taking Jaipur BookMark by storm.”

The Seagull School of Publishing has come on board as an associate partner for JBM 2019. Publishers like Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Westland, Zubaan Books, Vani Prakashan and Rajkamal Prakashan have consistently supported the event, in terms of both talent and resources.

Over the years JBM has become a single window access for anyone who is a part of the business of books, whether it is a publisher looking for a new voice, a literary agent scouting new talent, translators searching for new projects or book distributors and bookstore owners looking to understand the millennial opportunities in the book trade!

No longer limited to first-time writers, the mentorship program at JBM not only gives writers a chance to express themselves, but also lets them mingle and interact with publishers, literary agents, translators and industry experts in a pitching session with a view to make a deal. Delegates and speakers at Jaipur BookMark include both industry veterans and some of the younger edgier publishers.

“Every year we try to include new and independent voices from across India in the —program – whether it is a Tamil publisher from Nagercoil, an independent bookstore in Gangtok, translators who have discovered new voices, aspiring new writers, librarians, academicians, film-makers, web series promoters or audio book publishers. At the heart of all our sessions is the need to highlight something new. These dialogs give insights to newcomers on how they can become a part of and make it big in the industry.” added Gupta.

JBM Copyright Roundtable

On selling rights and copyrights, Gupta commented, “We are delighted to be hosting Michael Healy, the director of the Copyrights Clearance Council, at Jaipur BookMark 2019. Copyright underpins everything we do as an industry and without it all opportunities quickly recede. The principle of copyright is threatened at a global level and this is as true in India as in many other countries. At the festival this year, we will host the JBM Copyright Roundtable. The session is a call to all publishers, literary agents, rights managers, lawyers, authors and international book fair organizers for the protection of copyright.

“While academic and higher education books do make up almost 70% of the book business in India, trade books are the mainstay of the publishers and industry people at the event. This year Jaipur BookMark 2019 will have 20 sessions in all, with a keynote address by Juergen Boos, the chief executive officer of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and multiple roundtables and panel discussions on the business of books, sessions focussed on literary translations and why reading poetry is important for us all.”

There will be roundtables on sales, distribution and bookstore businesses. The session on innovative distribution models will examine the disruptions and creative innovations of tradebook distribution and how to find new ways to promote and sell books. The bookstore session, on the other hand, will look at the opportunities to learn and grow in the publishing industry as a bookseller.

Gupta has worked with Indian languages and translation since 1996, and has seen the evolution and growth of the translation and publishing industry in India – having handled diverse aspects of the trade including book publishing, editing a literary magazine and publishing eBooks. She talked about the regional book publishing, challenges and how Jaipur BookMark can help publishers and Indian authors, “Indian languages have a very rich and vibrant tradition of publishing. Languages like Bangla, Assamese, Malayalam have thriving library systems, popular book festivals and committed book reading communities. I think the fact that Kindle launched eBooks in these 5 Indian languages – Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi and Gujarati – is also a pointer to their popularity and the fact that these languages have an outreach far beyond their geographical boundaries. Some languages may not have made it to the Kindle list merely due to technical reasons. For instance, in Bangla we are still battling with font and software compatibility. This is in no way a comment on its popularity or readership as a language.

“While India is said to publish the second largest number of books in English, it also has a vibrant publishing industry in 22 languages. There is a tremendous synergy that they share via translations. Translating and promoting literature in the Indian languages has been a major focus at Jaipur BookMark.

“This year, we have two sessions on translation, including one called Anuvad in which we hope to begin answering the question that publishers and agents from across the world often ask – How do we get to know Indian literature and translate from, into and between Indian languages? For publishers the main concern in working with languages is keeping the software updated. Can you imagine that we still do not have a Microsoft word spell check in Hindi?”

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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