24th Kochi International Book Festival from 24 February

Physical edition after a 2-year long hiatus

Photo: Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

24 February 2022 will mark the beginning of the 24th edition of the Kochi International Book Festival, that will continue till 6 March at the Ernakulathappan Grounds in the city. The fair will be held for the first time since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic that is still wreaking havoc across the world. The 23rd edition of the book festival which was held in 2019, prior to the pandemic, was a grand success with more than 10,000 visitors on a daily basis.

The first edition of the Kochi International Book Festival was organized in 1997 to commemorate 50 years of India’s independence. The annual book fair, which is put together by the Antharashtra Pusthakotsava Samithi, goes on for 10 days. The Kochi Literature Festival is also co-located with the Kochi International Book Festival. 

The book festival, held in December each year, provides a B2B interaction environment for publishers, book traders, literary agents, translators, distributors, and traders. The cultural event is also the meeting point of regional book publishers and sees regular attendance from publishing houses in neighboring states as well as established publishing houses from across the country. The publishers employ the book arena to create brand awareness for their literary and knowledge offerings. 

The fair focuses on the B2C angle as well which makes it an anticipated event in every enthusiast and bibliophile’s calendar. The Kochi International Book Festival offers a line-up of cultural activities for readers of all age groups including book discussions, book launches, book readings, book quizzes, art contests, literary meets, author interactions, panel discussions, and literary workshops, apart from cultural performances. The 2022 physical edition of the event will take place in observance with all Covid-19 precautions and guidelines.

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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