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. 

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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