Publishing rights in the Coronavirus turmoil

LBF and Brussels still on so far, other book fairs postponed or skipped

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Leipzig Book Fair canceled
Image of Leipzig Book Fair's cancellation announcement on their website

Of the international book fairs taking place in the first quarter of the 2020 year, Paris and Leipzig are canceled as part of government measures against the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The London Book Fair is likely to be canceled at the last minute, as its organizers Reed Exhibitions appear to await a UK government decision so they can claim losses as force majeure from their insurance company. 

Major publishing houses have already pulled out of the LBF event, including Penguin Random House, Hachette, Pan Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Ingram, and Amazon. Other publishing houses appealed to the LBF organizers to shut down this year’s edition for safety reasons. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the Taipei International Book Exhibition, both postponed, are still on the agenda for May.

The Brussels Book Fair, with international exhibition staff limited to French, Dutch, and a handful of African, Moroccan, and Swiss participants, will go ahead this week with a drastically adjusted program. Chilean author Luis Sepulveda, who planned to attend the Brussels fair, contracted the Covid-19 coronavirus just a week before he could make it. He and his wife were infected while attending the Correntes d’Escritas literary festival near Porto, Portugal, and are in quarantine at a hospital near their home in the North of Spain.

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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1 COMMENT

  1. We have just received at 1526 hours Delhi time, a statement from Reed Exhibitions, the organizers of the London Book Fair.
    “Reed Exhibitions has today announced that The London Book Fair 2020, scheduled to take place at Olympia, London, from 10 to 12 March will be cancelled following the escalation of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Europe.

    “The effects, actual and projected, of Coronavirus are becoming evident across all aspects of our lives here in the UK and across the world, with many of our participants facing travel restrictions. We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organisations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event.

    “We recognise that business has to continue. With this in mind, we will of course support and collaborate with exhibitors and visitors to keep our world moving during this difficult period. We thank all those from the UK and a multitude of other countries who have prepared over the last year to deliver what promised to be a wonderful book fair showcasing, as ever, the exciting best of the global book industry. The London Book Fair will return, better than ever, in 2021.”

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