Frankfurt Book Fair – the Special Edition

Digital B2B participation sponsored by German government

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Claudia Kaiser vice president of the Frankfurt Book Fair takes part in a webinar to brief Indian publishers about this year's Special Edition Screenshot IPP
Claudia Kaiser vice president of the Frankfurt Book Fair takes part in a webinar to brief Indian publishers about this year's Special Edition Screenshot IPP

The German Book Office that looks after the activities of the German book industry in India, including the world’s largest book fair for the exchange of translation and publishing rights, has organized at least two presentations to Indian publishers in the last few weeks. The big news apart from the fact that the FBF will be a hybrid event, both material and virtual, is that German government funding has enabled the organizers to offer 7,500 publishers worldwide virtual or digital participation free of charge. The minister of state and culture is supporting the FBF as part of the country’s NEUSTART KULTUR stimulus package.

In its digital avatar, the Frankfurt Book Fair 2020, with its extensive digital program, can be accessed from around the world. There are a host of offers for the general public and virtual B2B opportunities for trade visitors, such as matchmaking, networking, further education, and rights trading.

In the most recent webinar numbering over 40 publisher participants, Claudia Kaiser vice president of the FBF said, “We will have a physical fair, but it will be smaller.” Kaiser explained that the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic continue and persist and said that in some ways to recreate the flavor and multiple channels of the FBF digitally seems in many ways more challenging than even organizing the physical fair.

Looking forward to the new way of participation

FBF has special tools for the Special Edition from 14 to 18 October that digitally recreate the professional activities at the annual fair. There are special thematic events. Central is the digital catalog that can contain multimedia content and is open to all who register in time up to a limit of 7,500 entrants. Here publishers and other relevant entrants can upload information about their titles and offer for distribution or rights and translation. Requests for online meetings can be made, and video can be embedded.

Frankfurt Rights

Frankfurt Rights is Frankfurter Buchmesse’s new digital portal for contacts, information, and trading rights and licenses. It will host an international catalog of rights to browse, discover, and be found in. As Bipin Shah said near the end of the webinar, “We are definitely going to register, and are looking forward to the new way of participation.”

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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