Coronavirus impact on trade fairs – an update

Livre Paris Book Fair in Paris expected to be canceled

Statue of young book reader
Young book reader in a park at Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo: IPP

1 March 2020 – The Livre Paris Book Fair, where the Indian book industry was to be the guest of honor this month (20-23 March 2020), is expected to be canceled, as the French government has announced a ban on all in-doors gatherings with more than 5,000 people due to the coronavirus (Covid 19) outbreak. Many of the French book industry staff will fall back for their meetings on the Brussels Book Fair next week, which will take place as scheduled. At the Brussels fair, international attendance is limited to French and Dutch publishers and a handful of African and Middle East participants.

The London Book Fair, still scheduled to take place from 10-12 March 2020, will be severely impacted, as most exhibitors from Asia-Pacific and at least three publishing groups from the US have already canceled their participation. Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Ingram decided not to send their American teams to the fair, whereas Penguin Random House US, has left the decision to the individual staff so far.

The Leipzig Book Fair, also to take place this month, is likely to be canceled altogether, as all trade fairs scheduled for this month in other German and Swiss cities have been canceled. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair has been postponed from March to May, but given the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Northern Italy, many participants expect it to be canceled as well.

Meanwhile, Fespa reports that it reduced its Madrid show due for 24-27 March from five to four halls, as most of the Asian participants had to cancel. In the coming weeks, the show is expected to shrink further, if not canceled, as more than one-third of Fespa’s exhibitors are companies from Asia-Pacific. Among these are 150 are from mainland China alone which is why one hall has already been canceled. 

The number of small and large enterprises reporting supply chain shortages and drops in turnover is rising by the day. The industry is holding its breath as to the fate of other trade fairs to be held this year, in particular Interpack, drupa, All-in-Print, and the Frankfurt Book Fair.

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.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.


  1. 320 am on 3 March 2020, New Delhi. News came in about 10 hours ago, that the Livre Paris Book fair has in fact been cancelled. The French government has banned indoor gatherings of 5,000 persons or more.

    Meanwhile more US publishers and US subsidiaries have pulled out of the London Book Fair from 10 to 12 March including Hachette and Amazon. The UK government is expected to announce its action plan later today. Watch this space.


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