New Delhi World Book Fairs

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• Journey continues with great zeal & effort
• There is an equal appetite for Indian language books abroad

India is a big publishing market, with a multiplicity of languages. “NBT alone publishes books in 30 languages though the Constitution of India recognises only 22. Our industry has a total different arena. You cannot compare it with other countries. Most of our languages have a rich treasure house of literature, with a distinct flavour and cultural heritage and we need to showcase to the world what treasure trove we have and it is through book fairs and events that we can interface with the rest of the world,” asserted A Sethumadhavan, chairman, National Book Trust (NBT), India.

“Whatever changes we made in the last New Delhi World Book Fair, have been well appreciated by the industry. The first being the migration from biennial to annual event, which has been a major initiative by Kapil Sibal at that time. India, being a major publishing power in the world, it makes a lot of sense to have an annual book fair as whatever the industry is doing, it needs to be carried forward to keep the activity level high. We do participate in many international fairs and get a lot of innovative ideas, which need to be translated into practice to make it an ongoing thing,” expressed Sethumadhavan.

New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) is now a major calendar event in the publishing world. The upcoming NDWBF 2014 is scheduled from February 15 -23, 2014 at the centrally located Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, with the theme of the fair being ‘Children literature.’ The show will be formally inaugurated by president of India, Pranab Mukherjee.

NBT is an apex body of the Government of India, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The show is co-organised by India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), the nodal agency of the Government of India under the Ministry of Commerce, for promoting the country’s external trade.

“It is not just a book event. We are involving all stakeholders and not just the publishers. These include readers, authors, book lovers, critics and public at large. Today, we have much more aggressive players in the market and a whole lot of new entrants in this segment, who need to know what’s happening around and NDWBF is the platform to be. It has been made into a nine-day event keeping in mind the interest of the Indian publishers,” added Sethumadhavan.

Talking about their initiative CEOSpeak, Sethumadhavan told that the response has been phenomenal. “Last year, there were 75 participants but this year we have already got 100+ participants,” he told. He further told that they shall have two speakers from abroad, one each from Singapore and Korea, who will tell the participant about their market. He personally feels that the ‘Book City Concept’ of Korea is very impressive and there’s a scope for such an initiative for India as well.

Another important initiative by NDWBF is the Rights Table. “It was started last year in a very modest way. The response has been good and the world market is noticing NDWBF seriously. We hope that it will pick up this year as there is appetite for Indian language books abroad. We have already talked to many publishers and now we need to push it further,” he said. However, he says that NBT is only a facilitator and efforts need to be made by respective publishers as they have their own networking methods. In fact, they should not just sell books, but should somehow try to promote writing of the authors. Additionally, NBT is offering financial assistance for translations and which has been well received. The rights catalogue which NBT now takes to overseas fairs is much bigger and professional, focussing more on the classics from Indian languages.

Besides, the Author’s Corner would be much more pronounced with more number of writers from not just India, but from Guest of Honour country Poland and also from Czechoslovakia. One famous name from our Indian literature is Ruskin Bond and he would be a guest of honour author at the show.

Coming to the theme of the book fair – ‘children literature’, Sethumadhavan informed that there would be different design in the pavilion which would also be fabricated in an innovative way.

Also, there would be a session on Digital Zone where digital service providers will talk to publishers about their changing needs and trends. He, however, feels that print is not going anywhere as the real market lies in villages and may be book reading have come down in urban settings, but they will continue to be appreciated, sold and read, despite changes in the delivery channels.

Sethumadhavan, however, feels that print media, with reviewing of books reguraly does not support the publishing industry as it deserves. “It is very limited and there is a need for more exposure in main line print media,” he said.

The countdown for NDWBF 2014 has begun and the industry is poised to converge at Pragati Maidan for this annual mega event of the industry.

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