New Delhi World Book Fair likely to be called off

NDWBF could be postponed to April of this year

New Delhi World Book Fair
New Delhi World Book Fair 2019. Photo IPP

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) recently approved a graded response action plan after the number of Coronavirus cases shot up in the capital. New Delhi recorded a total of 4,099 fresh Covid-19 cases on 3 January 2022 thereby increasing the positivity rate to 6.46%. 

With this recent spike, the National Book Trust (NBT), which organizes the annual New Delhi World Book Fair, has submitted a report to the Central Government about the prospects of still holding the 2022 fair that was scheduled to begin at the end of this week – 8 January 2022. According to a report in The Hindustan Times dated 3 January, the Ministry of Education (MoE) may cancel the book exhibition that was slated to be held from 8 – 16 January 2022. The news report suggests that this year’s edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair may be postponed to April 2022 or organized as a virtual event on the same dates. 

The DDMA has banned the organization of business-to-business (B2B) conferences and exhibitions with a yellow alert under its graded response action plan to upsurges in the Covid-19 pandemic. As reported by HT, with the recent Covid surge in the city and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant across the country, many book publishers from India and overseas have intimated their inability to take part at the major annual book fair organized by the National Book Trust. The Fair was to complete 50 years in 2022, with a special photo exhibition to commemorate the milestone. The theme of this year’s edition was ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav,’ – elixir of energy of independence.

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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