Chennai International Book Fair 2023: A new chapter in Tamil publishing

The first edition of the three-day Chennai International Book Fair (CIBF), conducted from January 16-18 in Chennai, turned out to be a resounding success. As a co-event to the 46th Chennai Book Fair, one of the largest Business to Consumer (B2C) book events in India, the CIBF complemented it with a global Business to Business (B2B) component. A report by Janani Rajeswari. S.


Organised by the Tamil Nadu Text Books and Educational Services Corporation under the Ministry of School Education of the Government of Tamil Nadu, the CIBF was a platform for more than 100 Tamil publishers from India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, UAE and the USA, for the first time. Representatives from 30 countries and numerous States of India participated in the event. Azerbaijan, Israel, Canada, Indonesia, France, Georgia, Malaysia, Italy, Singapore, Bangladesh, Uganda, Armenia, Tanzania, Argentina, Turkey, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Germany, Thailand and Japan were among the participants.

“The Tamil Nadu government aims to take Tamil to the world and bring the world to Tamil through the international book fair,” said M.K. Stalin, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The Chief Minister had set up 12,000 libraries in the rural regions of Tamil Nadu when he was earlier the minister for local administration.

The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu announced a fresh translation grant of ?30 million (USD 3.75k) as the first allotment to translate Tamil titles in 30 languages. Many schemes of translation grants through co-publishing and bulk library purchases have already been initiated.

“After nearly five months of work, it’s very gratifying. A number of translation rights contracts have been signed. When we first pitched the idea to the Government of Tamil Nadu, they doubted if it was possible to organise such an event at short notice. The whole idea behind the event was to spread Tamil literature and create a book fair for all Indian and other languages. We assured them that we could conduct it, although in a small way. However, through this event I realised that we had actually underestimated the Tamil language publishers. I had the question in my mind if they (Tamil language publishers) would buy rights,” explained Senthil Nathan, International Partnership consultant, CIBF.

International visitors’ speak…

“I recently took charge at IPA from January 1, 2023. CIBF is my first official visit and I am very glad to be part of the first edition of the fair and learn about Indian publishing. It is very gratifying to be here where our (IPA) support is needed. The trip has been truly memorable. I am also happy to see this initiative has been largely supported by the Government of Tamil Nadu. My fellow publishers from other countries are also very happy about the way the fair has been organised,” opined Gvantsa Jobava, Vice President, International Publishers Association and Editor / Head of the International Affairs, Intelekti Publishing, Georgia.

“I have already collaborated with Tamil publishers but this is my first time in Chennai. I am happy to be here and will definitely be back next year. Also, Tamil publishers were happy to meet a Turkish literary agent. This will help more exchange between publishers globally,” added Nermin Mollaoglu Demirtas, Kalem Agency, Turkey.

“It has been a book fair way beyond my wildest expectations! The future is here,” Francesco Verso, Future Fiction, Italy.

“CIBF is indeed huge platform. Looking at it from a broader perspective, it’s an amalgamation of food, culture, language and translation. There is no boundary in exchanging literature. It’s been beneficial for the host as well as the participants,” added Nadira Bhabna, Adorn Publications, Bangladesh.

“I am delighted to be in Chennai for the first time and I think it’s a very professional fair. I met many Tamil publishers who were curious about the French writings. We have signed contracts mostly for fiction work. I can also pass on information about Tamil publishers to my colleagues in Paris,” said Judith Rosenzweig, Foreign Rights Director, Éditions Gallimard.

Indians exhibitors at the fair…

“We think it’s a very good idea that will benefit Tamil and other language books. It’s quite encouraging for publishers and bookshops overseas. We also got an opportunity to network with publishers from other countries, “opined Naa Andiappan, (Chairman) and Prema Mahalingam, Association of Singapore Tamil writers.

“It’s a great endeavour. It will definitely pave way for a strong connection between the publishers across North and South India,” said Tridib Chatterjee, owner, Patra Bharathi, Kolkata.

“I think this fair is a much-needed initiative and someone had to take the first step towards organising it and inviting foreign delegates too. The most amazing part of it is the selling of translation rights and the grants supported by the State government. I believe that there is a need to replicate this model in other book fairs such as New Delhi World Book fair and Kolkata International Book Fair and so on,” opined Prashant Pathak, Wonder Book House, New Delhi.

“Tamil book rights have not been distributed so far. CIBF is a face-to-face platform for international publishers to meet Tamil publishers. It is a great opportunity to further relationships between national and international contacts,” added K. Nagarajan, publisher, Bharathi Puthagam, Chennai.

“This is one of the greatest initiatives by the Government of Tamil Nadu. There are emerging writers in Tamil language. In 2021, around 17,000 books were published in Tamil. There is also a quest to take this to other Indian and international languages. I believe that CIBF has created a great platform for the same,” said Olivannan Gopalakrishnan, Emerald Publishers, Chennai.

While, Naresh Chutani, Deputy Director, CAPEXIL, New Delhi, said,“I know how difficult it is to organise a grand event like this at very short notice. It’s very well-organised yet there is scope for improvement, which I am sure they will in the following years.”

You might also like More from author

Comments are closed.