Chennai Book Fair 2022 postponed

New Covid-19 Omicron surge curbs exhibition events

Chennai Book Fair
Tulika Publishers stand at Chennai Book Fair 2020. Photo IPP

The 45th edition of the Chennai Book Fair, slated to be held from 6 to 23 January 2022 in the city’s YMCA Grounds in Nandanam, has been postponed amid the rising Covid-19 cases in the city. Organized by the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), this year’s 18-day edition was to be inaugurated by the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, MK Stalin with Anbil Mahesh Poyamozhi, the pastor of education, in attendance. The cancellation has discouraged publishers and booksellers who were planning to recover their losses of the past two pandemic-ridden years.

The Tamil Nadu government introduced fresh Covid-19 curbs on 1 January 2022 as the daily fresh infection case count crossed the 1,000 mark on 31 December 2021 in the state,  postponing all exhibitions and fairs with immediate effect. The Chennai Book Fair had been extended from 12 days to 18 days with a safety limit on the number of individuals allowed to attend the event each day. The event had been planned with a view to observe all necessary precautions, with a Covid-19 vaccination camp at the fair premises.

The 44th edition of the book event is being said to have attracted more than 10 lakh people including booksellers, publishers, literary agents, book enthusiasts, students, and the general public. The much-awaited book fair was the first event in India’s book fair calendar with the opening of the annual New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) just two days later on 8 January. 

According to press reports, the NDWBF is also likely to be postponed although the announcement of the change of plans has not yet been issued as of noon on 4 January 2022. Meanwhile another exhibition, the Paperex 2022 that was to be held in Greater Noida from 9 to 12 January has also been canceled although new dates are likely to be announced. 

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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