New dates announced for 2022 Chennai Book Fair

Decline in Covid-19 cases lifts publishers' spirits

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

The 45th edition of the Chennai Book Fair, earlier postponed from 6 January after the state of Tamil Nadu saw an unprecedented rise in fresh Covid-19 infections, will now be held from 16 February – 6 March 2022. Indian Printer & Publisher had reported on 4 January that the book fair had been postponed as a result of fresh curbs imposed by the Government of Tamil Nadu postponing all exhibitions, and cultural events in the state with immediate effect.

After the recent decline in new Covid-19 cases and the increasing number of recoveries, the Tamil Nadu government has permitted the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) to hold the 2022 Chennai Book Fair starting in the second half of February. BAPASI chief secretary V Irai Anbu recently gave a presentation to the authorities to organize the book exhibition while observing all necessary Covid-19 precautions and adhering to pandemic norms and guidelines, similar to the 2021 edition of the event. The permission to arrange the book fair has been given following this plea. BAPASI has also accepted a reduction in the number of stands from 1,000 to 800 in order to maintain appropriate social distancing during the exhibition. Around 80% of the fair framework is already in place, according to sources.

Restrictions on participation of senior citizens

The annual book fair, held at the YMCA Grounds in Nandanam, attracts booksellers, publishers, literary enthusiasts, book lovers, literary agents, students, children, and the general public from Tamil Nadu and neighboring states. The 18-day 2022 edition of the book fair is planned with a safety limit on the number of people allowed to attend each day. According to the new guidelines issued by the authorities to conduct the event, infants, newborns, senior citizens aged 65 and above, pregnant women and people with co-morbidities such as hypertension and heart disease have been discouraged from attending the exhibition.

The new guidelines suggest no-touch entry with online ticketing, mandatory mask use, and sanitizer dispersion at all entry and exit points, washrooms and individual publisher stands. Separate entry and exit paths to maintain social distancing are also being considered. In addition, only three visitors will be allowed at a time in any stand for a maximum duration of 15 minutes to make their literary purchases. 

Air conditioning has been prohibited in all exhibition areas while workers, organizational staff, and publishers will be made to wear gloves during the exhibition timings, from 10 am in the morning to 7 pm. Moreover, Covid-19 safety measures and precautions must be pasted at relevant areas in the premises, and regular announcements to observe Covid-19 rules and guidelines must be made on the loudspeakers during the event.

The postponement of the Chennai Book Fair 2022 had discouraged publishers, booksellers, and literary agents who were looking to recover the damage incurred due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, the sharp decline in Covid-19 cases in the city has once again lifted spirits after the fresh dates were 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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