The 8th Publishing Next conference in Goa

Revisiting the basic tenets of the publishing process

Ritu Menon, publisher, Women Unlimited and Indira Chandrasekhar, publisher, Tulika Books
Ritu Menon, publisher, Women Unlimited and Indira Chandrasekhar, publisher, Tulika Books

The 8th Publishing Next conference was held in Goa, at the Goa Science Centre, Miramar, from 19 to 22 September 2019. Spread over 4 days, the conference brought together publishers from all over the country. This year, the focus was on the basic aspects of the publishing process.

Among those who spoke at the conference included recognized names in the publishing and book retailing sectors. The mood for the conference was set by two engaging sessions on editing; one on the editing process itself, conducted by Ritu Menon, publisher, Women Unlimited and Indira Chandrasekhar, publisher, Tulika Books. Another session on how an author and editor engage during the making of a book, conducted by the author Jerry Pinto, and the editor of his many books, Ravi Singh, publisher, Speaking Tiger.

Jerry Pinto, an author, a poet, and a journalist
Jerry Pinto, an author, a poet, and a journalist

The audience consisted of publishers, editors, academics, translators, and booksellers who gained insights about the intricacy and importance of the role of an editor in shaping a good book, a theme revisited often during the entire conference.

The theme was readdressed when self-publishing was discussed on the second day of the conference in a panel moderated by Manish Purohit, owner, AuthorsUpfront, and on the last day when translations were discussed in a panel moderated by Manisha Chaudhry, publisher, Manan Books.

During the panel discussions on translations, Kabani Chandran, a translator and author of Malayalam reiterated that publishers of books in the Indian languages ought to pay as much attention to editing as publishers of English books often do. There was a lament, however, that in many publishing houses, editing is now being outsourced to freelancers.

Other aspects of the publishing process were also recalled during the conference. A panel discussion on book retailing was moderated by Meethil Momaya, co-owner, Trilogy Library and Bookstore, while a panel discussion on collaborations between publishers was moderated by Arpita Singh, publisher, Yoda Press. There were masterclasses on book production by Sudhanva Deshpande of Leftword Books, and Amit Chavan of Repro India and another on book marketing by Niti Kumar and Vaishnavi Singh, both of Penguin Random House India ensuring that small and new publishers at the conference understood the entire publishing process from manuscript to bookshelf. A panel discussion on the sustainability of small publishing houses, moderated by Vinutha Mallya, editor and journalist and a workshop on contracts conducted by Vinutha Mallya and Karthika VK, publisher, Westland Publications was also conducted.

Kabani Chandran, a translator and author of Malayalam and Karthika VK, publisher, Westland Publications
Kabani Chandran, a translator and author of Malayalam and Karthika VK, publisher, Westland Publications

Similarly, there were sessions on book reviews by Rihan Nijab of The Hindu Business Line, and Shireen Quadri of the Punch Magazine and a panel discussion on the importance of bibliodiversity, moderated by Ritu Menon.

The 6th edition of the Publishing Next Industry Awards were also presented during the conference. The Printed Book of the Year Award (English) was won by A
Respectable Woman, published by Zubaan while the same Award for the Indian
languages was won by M F Husain – Kala ka Karmyogi, published by Niyogi Books. The coveted Publisher of the Year Award was won by the independent children’s publisher, Duckbill Books, awarded for ‘engaging with relevant topics, to which children of our time need exposure; for consciously moving away from the pedantic model in children’s publishing, and helping create models in children’s minds that promote an ability to differentiate various kinds of information; for clearly defined publishing aims; for choices in terms of content and approach that are very well aligned; and for the twin effort to both anchor in the familiar, and extend into new areas.’

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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