Tulika in LBF International Excellence Awards 2022 shortlist

Tulika – a publisher for growing up multicultural in India

Radhika Menon, founder Tulika. Photo Tulika

The London Book Fair (LBF) is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film, and digital channels. The 2022 on-ground edition of LBF will take place 5 – 7 April 2022 at Olympia London.

The LBF has announced the shortlist for the International Excellence Awards 2022 on 4 March 2022, with sixteen countries represented across four continents. Spain leads the pack, appearing in three categories, while the USA, Egypt, and France follow close behind at two nominations each.

Damla Publishing (Turkey), Thierry Magnier (France), and Tulika Publishers (India) will be competing for the Children’s and Young Adult Publishers Award, which is a new category for this year. 

Tulika caters to Indian multicultural identity

Founded by Radhika Menon in 1996, the Chennai-based independent publisher Tulika initially focussed on storytelling for children and young adults, a somewhat lean genre in the publishing landscape in India in those days. The word ‘tulika’ loosely translates into a writer’s quill in Sanskrit.

Tulika, which completed 25 years in publishing children’s books in the 2020 pandemic year is committed to the multicultural Indian identity giving young readers a bite of the Indian culture of storytelling which they have been raised on. Menon’s personal experience as a school teacher in Chennai provided insights into molding the brand in alignment with children’s developing tastes. The publishing maverick took on illustrating Indian customs, traditions, linguistic expressions, and local costumes as her personal responsibility, which later took on the shape of Tulika’s USP.

Malli is Coming is a bilingual book in Hindi and English by Tulika. Photo Tulika

With the brand’s trademark crow logo, its multilingual approach with books in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, English, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, and Marathi, the publisher aims to reach a wider spectrum of readers. Its inclusive themes and ways of storytelling also focus on untold narratives in the children’s publishing diaspora in the subcontinent – stories of loss, disability, multiculturalism, identity, and real-life encounters.

Tulika publishes not only fictional work but also non-fiction titles exploring the life and works of greats like Bhimrao Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi and seemingly unconventional subjects for young adults such as archaeology in India. The publishing house survived the Covid-19 pandemic by boosting its online presence and sales.

Andy Ventris, the director, of the London Book Fair, said, “The publishing industry has done remarkable work over the past year, managing to tell new stories and deliver books to readers in the face of Covid, supply chain issues, and other notable challenges. The dedication and passion for books shown throughout the global trade are truly inspiring, and we are delighted to recognize some of the most innovative companies, initiatives, and individuals from around the world in this year’s International Excellence Awards shortlists.

The International Excellence Awards recognize publishing achievement across eight categories, championing those organizations and individuals from around the world demonstrating passion, creativity, and ingenuity. The shortlist for each award category was selected by a judging panel comprised of experts within that sector. The winners of the International Excellence Awards, as well as the recipient of the London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award, will be announced at the end of March.

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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