Bologna, London book fairs. Paris BF with India as Guest of Honor

Word of the year – ‘in-person’

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Olympia London LBF
The Olympia in London, site of the London Book Fair

The London Book Fair was held from 5 to 7 April with around 1,400 exhibitors and 21,000 professional visitors. Exhibitors numbers from Asia-Pacific included around 50 from Australia and New Zealand, 50 from China, around 30 each from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and India, 20 each from Malaysia and Thailand, and several publishers from Indonesia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, and Pakistan. From India, the exhibitors included 18 publishers and trading companies, 4 printing houses, 5 premedia service providers, and one literary agency.

In addition to all the literati buzz at these fairs, Nielsen Book Data shared some of their research on reading trends during the pandemic at LBF, showing that fiction, and ‘cozy crime’ in particular, seems to be on the rise, while manga is more popular than ever. TikTok trends have also impacted backlist title sales, with sales of books over two years old accounting for a third of all sales in 2021. In many book markets, print books have experienced a resurgence.

LBF concluded with the words of its director Andy Ventris, “It has been fantastic to see the global publishing industry come together in person at the London Book Fair over the past three days, reconnecting and doing business, filling the halls of Olympia with a distinct buzz of excitement. After two years away, it was clear how much we had all missed meeting face-to-face, and to see LBF return in such strong form was incredibly heartening. We look forward to welcoming the industry back to Olympia in 2023, building on this year’s phenomenal return.”

Bologna Children’s Book Fair

At this year’s BCBF, 1,070 exhibitors mingled with around 21,400 visitors on the four days between 21 and 24 March. The book industries from Australia and New Zealand sent 25 exhibitors, South Korea 15, India and China each 13, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Singapore each one or two. The Indians included 11 publishers, one printing house, and one literary agency.

French Book Fair Salon du Livre de Paris – 21 to 24 April

In 2020, when the Indian book industry was supposed to be its Guest of Honor, the French book fair Salon du Livre was among the many events that were canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, two years later, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, Indian literature will be celebrated at the first-again in-person book fair in France, which has been transformed into a multiple-location gig, the Festival du Livre de Paris from 21 to 24 April

The organization of the book festival will center around a 10,000-square-meter exhibition space and ‘small lounges’ at the ‘Grand Palais Ephémère,’ a temporary wooden structure close to the Eiffel Tower, created to house events during renovations of the Grand Palais for the 2024 Olympics. Access to the fair will be free of charge but has to be reserved online in advance. During the main three days of the festival, author presentations and book readings will be held at several other locations, as well as a series of guided literary tours around the city. As Covid-19 cases are still rising in France, organizers will try to avoid too large concentrations of crowds.

Street signage in India
Street signage in India

Postponed by hardly two months, Paris is the third physical event among the larger European book fairs this year, only weeks after the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the London Book Fair, and after the cancellation of this year’s Brussels and Leipzig book fairs. Both BCBF and LBF were canceled for two consecutive years, and both registered visitor numbers of about 75% of their 2019 turnout. Both also showcased the Sharjah International Book Fair as their market focus. The SIBF was one of the few book fairs that were able to mount physical events in both 2020 and 2021.

India Guest of Honor at the Festival du livre de Paris – Program

Friday 22 April
Write-Rewrite History

Shashi Tharoor, diplomat, politician, author
Aanchal Malhotra, historian
Mirza Waheed, author
Christophe Jaffrelot, political science specialist on India
Moderator: Jean-Claude Perrier
Location: Centre de Recherches Internationales

Current literary trends

Perumal Murugan, author, literary critic
Geetanjali Shree, author
Deepak Unnikrishnan, author
Moderator: Karthika Nair
Location: Grand Palais Éphémère

Living in India: Global Cities and the Environment

Anuradha Roy, author, journalist, editor
Bijal Vachharajani, author
Shoba Narayan, author
Moderator: Vaiju Naravane
Location: Grand Palais Éphémère

Living in the World: Calcutta, Abu Dhabi and London

Sandip Roy, author and journalist
Deepak Unnikrishnan, author
Mirza Waheed, author
Moderator: Dominique Vitalyos
Location: Grand Palais Éphémère

Meeting with Geetanjali Shree and Aanchal Malhotra

with, Annie Montaut (specialist on Hindi literature and translator)
Shailendra Mudgal (translator and teacher of Hindi)
Christine Villeneuve, publisher, Editions des femmes
Antoinette Fouque, translator
Location: Bookshop Le Phénix

Saturday 23 April

Engaging in Indian comics and youth literature 

George ‘Appupen’ Mathen, author, designer, musician
Bijal Vachharajani, author
Karthika Nair, author and poet
Discussion illustrated by Joelle Jolivet
Moderator: Jul, comics author
Location: Grand Palais Éphémère

Adapt and Translate: the Mahâbhârata

Ariane Mnouchkine
Jean-Marie Michaud, illustrator of a French Mahâbhârata comics
Nicolas Filicic and ‘his’ illustrated Mahâbhârata
Amina Okada and Indian miniatures
Thierry Pecou, music
Film de Corinne Jaber, comedian

Reading of extracts in Indian languages:
Niranjani Iyer (French-Hindi-Tamil)
Geetanjali Shri (Hindi)
Perumal Murugan and Nirupama Nityanandan (Tamil)
Deepak Unnikrishnan et Jeet Thayil (English) 

Lectures illustrated by Joelle Jolivet
Concept: Karthira Nair et Priti Paul
Translation support by the Apeejay Group and Priti Paul
Location: Museum of Asian Art

Meeting with Perumal Murugan 

Perumal Murugan is a professor of Tamil and the author of numerous novels and poems. Some of his works have been translated into English, such as his latest novel Poonachi and a collection of his poems, Songs of a Coward: Poems of Exile. Only one of his books has been translated into French, Le Bucher (The Funeral Pyre), at Editions Marsan.
Location: Bookshop Le Phénix

Sunday 24 April

The Indian detective story

Ajay Chowdhury, author and film director
Ishrat Syed, author and surgeon
Kalpana Swaminathan, author and surgeon
Moderator: Helene Fischbach, director of the International Festival of Detective Stories Location: Grand Palais Éphémère

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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