JBM’s excellent traction will lead to a flourishing rights business

Jaipur BookMark – a manifestation of what is possible

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Jaipur Literary Festival
Hans Jacob Frydeniund, ambassador of Norway in India, Anushree Rathore, author, Namita Gokhle, author, publisher and founder and co-director of Jaipur Literary Festival and Jaipur BookMark releasing Gandhinama in Hindi. Photo IPP

In 2014, the Jaipur BookMark held its first event at a smaller palace (not far but not a walkable distance) away from the main Jaipur Literary Festival. The commitment of the organizers in building a business platform never faltered, nor did their interest in Indian language publishing and poetry. The event has grown well, found its feet, and moved to its own compact haveli in the main JLF Diggi Palace grounds. It is likely to eventually serve its manifold and ultimate purposes of improving the publishing rights business, critical to the realization of its slogan ‘Where books mean business.‘  Many in the publishing community have supported the growth of this event that now lists 33 associates and sponsors with varying levels of contribution. Major Indian publishers such as Seagull and DC Books have stepped up substantially. Still, one partner stands out for its continued support right from the first JBM event – the Norwegian Embassy, and it deserves both praise and thanks – these guys get it!

Mita Kapoor, CEO of Siyahi, literary director JCB Prize for Literature, Elane Cnning, executive officer of Swansea University’s Dylan Thomas Prize, Sunny Singh, author, founder Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Color and Aanchal Malhotra, oral historian and prize winning author. Photo IPP

The Jaipur Literary Festival itself is an enormous manifestation and accomplishment of what is possible – where art is necessary no matter the constraints, physical, cultural, or political. The organizers are navigators in a universe fraught with sponsors, egos, and politics. In its 13th year, one should have understood better all along what it represented – that in a less than ideal world not only did it manifest what is possible but that it has all along been the herald and witness to a literate, creative and democratic movement amongst the youth of the country. In this sense, JLF is quite rightly anathema to its right-wing, wind-bag detractors – it represents creativity, rational and scientific thinking, the courageous act of writing and speaking out, and the legacy of non-violent discourse and persuasion.

L-R: Anushree Rathore, Oscar Pujol, Aditi Maheshwari Goyal, Rakhshanda Jalil and Ravi Deecee. Photo IPP

Translating National Narratives: Aditi Maheshwari Goyal engaged Anushree Rathore, Oscar Pujol, Rakhshanda Jalil, and Ravi Deecee in a conversation about language and identity. Here again, the tension between the construction of national identity and collective consciousness across regional borders and languages contesting the rich diversity of art was highlighted.

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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