Thinking for the future of books

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The future of a printed book is becoming big question mark all over the world. Will the printed book continue to see the sunrise in the years to come? Will it be able to face the challenge in the making by digital threat? These were the major issues discussed during the 2nd summit of Globalocal recently organized by German Book Office (GBO) and the Frankfurt Book Fair in New Delhi on Nov 26, 2010, apart from general issues of language publishing, service providers in the form of BPOs. The day-long conference aimed at providing a comprehensive overview from all the players – publishers, printers, service providers and vendors, not just from India but from all parts of the world. The nature of the participation truly reflected the title: ideas and issues from the so called ‘mature markets’ like the UK and US but also from different corners of the globe. “Innovations happening by smaller companies, 21st century and 14th century going parallelly”
–Vivek Govil, president & CEO, Pearson Education

‘‘India needs to be taken differently’’
–Karthika VK, publisher and chief editor, HarperCollins India

“Monetization of content is going to be a key issue. Being between group of authors and set of printers, publisher looks like acting as financer”
–Sunder Singh, principal consultant & segment head, Information Services, TCS

“Need to create and develop TRUST factor, give up controls”
–Naresh Khanna, publisher, Indian Printer and Publisher

“Simply having PDF format of books makes easy for transforming to e-book platform”
–Tej PS Sood, publisher and director, Anthem Press

“Two out of three publishers of the world are outsourcing publishing services. India remains preferred choice”
–Vivek Shenoy, analyst, ValueNotes

“With digital content, we have been able to provide right solutions. There is a need to be ambitious in adopting newer technologies. Future of ‘content’ will always remain, be it a book or any other device enabling reading”
–Michael Moynahan, CEO, HarperCollins Publishers, Australia Juergen Boos

After having the two minutes’ silence to remember those who died in the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai, the one-day conference started with the welcome address by Juergen Boos, president, Frankfurt Book Fair who pointed out that the print world is changing and presently is in the middle of transformation. Publishers changing with digital are becoming stronger. India has immense potential with fast increasing literacy rate and adopting digital devices.

Thereafter in the first session moderated by Emma House, trade and international director, The Publishers Association (UK), presenting his view Michael Moynahan, CEO, HarperCollins Publishers, Australia mentioned that the changes are happening in new market vs matured market. Relationship between publishers and consumers in matured market has a distance but in new market there has been a closer relationship between them bringing newer opportunities. Herman P Spruijt, president, International Publishers Association said that content need to reach to every one (end users like libraries, professors, etc) and added, “Though India is cost conscious country, but we could find associates to work, produce and distribute books together.” Vivek Govil, president & CEO, Pearson Education, mentioned that high quality academic books written by eminent writers are important, specially those with added value like teaching techniques. “Though relationship between sales-representative and buyers, matters a lot,” he added. Vivek Agarwal, CEO, Liqvid, also shared his views in this session.

In the second session moderated by Kevin Fitzgerald, chief executive, Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd; Clare Somerville, general manager India, UK and export sales for Harlequin Mills & Boon enumerated their initiative for Indian readers which include giving Rs 95 per book offer, and mentioned that as per a French survey, 25 percent share in total books sold will be of digital by the year 2015. Karthika VK, publisher and chief editor, HarperCollins India stated, “We should always keep in mind ‘What’s next?’. As every person is a reader, you need to look into yourself to know what is right and satisfactory, then move further and offer these devices to readers. May be in next five years, 40-50 percent revenues will be coming from digital books/devices. It is time, Indian publishers also need to be pro-active and reach out to international platform.”

Multilingual markets have similar challenges. They also operate in regions with the same language but divided territories. What are the business models in such cases? How do they cope vis-à-vis the English language publishers? It was discussed in the third session moderated by Urvashi Butalia, publisher, Zubaan; Emile Khoury, managing director, CIEL Lebanon; Shirley Lim, regional director – Southeast Asia, McGraw-Hill; and Anna Soler-Pont, director, Pontas Literary & Film Agency.

Moderated by Naresh Khanna, publisher, Indian Printer and Publisher, the session on ‘Return of the colony: India as a service hub’ also became quite effective when Vivek Shenoy, analyst, ValueNotes; Bimal Mehta, executive director, Vakil & Sons Pvt Ltd; and Sunder Singh, principal consultant & segment head, Information Services, TCS shared their constructive views.

Dr Ashok Gupta The English language has definitely provided an advantage in the erstwhile British colonies. Whereas the local industry cried foul for years against the advent of the MNC, the development of a service base to the rest of the world has created a whole new segment (arguable the largest!) within publishing.

In another session on ‘going global, going digital’ moderated by Sirish Rao, director, IDEFIX & Co; PT Rajasekharan, managing director, Panther Publishers / chairman, Focus Medica Pte Ltd; Ravi DeeCee, CEO, DC Books; Ronald Schild, managing director, MVB Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels; and Zhou Hongli, CCO, Shanda Literature Limited (China) presented how the business will survive and grow in the digital arena that has changed the nature of the business. Gautam John (lawyer) and Achal Prabhala (researcher and writer) enumerated salient features of Wikipedia.

Akshay Patha, director of the German Book Office (GBO), New Delhi, a joint venture of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, took turns as emcee of the programme. Vote of thanks was delivered by Dr Ashok Gupta, vice president (North), The Federation of Indian Publishers.

The event was attended by over 150 publishing and media professionals and supported by CAPEXIL Book Division, Liqvid eLearning Services Pvt Ltd, the Association of Publishers in India, and the Federation of Indian Publishers. Partners included Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, Cape Town Book Fair, International Publishers Association (IPA), The Publishers Association (UK), while the sponsors were Libreka, Oxford Bookstore, the Park Hotel and Welbound Worldwide.

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