“Book fairs are important for revenue, rights sales, networking and knowledge”

Says Abhishek Bhardwaj, Regional Director – Books Marketing, Taylor & Francis Books India Pvt. Ltd.

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Taylor & Francis attends all major book fairs worldwide through our network of offices, sales teams, and agent & distributor network. We physically participated in the Frankfurt Book Fair, London Book Fair, Beijing Book Fair, Book Expo America, Guadalajara, and Seoul Book Fair before the pandemic. Our participation has transitioned to digital events or a hybrid digital/physical plan going forward as a result of the pandemic. All these events continue to be of importance for revenue, rights sales, networking and knowledge.

Our South Asia participation is similarly focused on all major national and state book fairs – New Delhi World Book Fair, Kolkata Book Fair, Colombo Book Fair, Kochi Book Fair, etc. are amongst the important fairs we attend regionally.

Why book fairs are important?

We publish research-based content in specialist subject areas spanning the Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM. Book Fairs which attract academic and research-oriented visitors are the most beneficial for our business. We eagerly await opportunities to interact with advanced learners and professionals as well as our supply chain partners to showcase our latest portfolio. Most of the national and regional book fairs allow us platforms for such interactions.

Although we do not anticipate such events as primary sales channels, our participation is invaluable for the purpose of market intelligence. Even the most accurate market research report does not compare with the intelligence and invaluable consumer insights which we get through direct interactions – face-to-face or virtual. Our presence ensures that we meet ALL the cogs in our supply chain, and not just our direct accounts, for engaging conversations which cover new product presentations, understanding market dynamics and shared challenges.

On regional book fairs…

Conventionally, regional book fairs were hugely popular amongst our key customer segments as events where the latest books in areas of interest could be browsed and purchased, but this has declined lately. There is a visible decrease in interest from institutional and individual buyers at book fairs in recent years as their preferences shifted to online stores. According to Amazon, 64% of their customers and 80% of new customers are from Tier 2&3 cities.

On online book fairs…

It is apparent that there is the potential of great success for online as it offers visitors benefits of time and expenses saved in traveling, allowing a wider audience to participate. But the organisers have to travel some distance up the road for learnings on how to offer an enhanced, engaging interface and experience to the users when they visit online book fairs.

Also, not everyone can travel to a book fair because of financial/time constraints, and a virtual fair allows a wider audience to participate. But, the downsides are that people are also distracted and less focused.

Online vs offline book fairs…

The need of the hour is to maintain a balance between online and physical book fairs. When it comes to customer interaction and forming a bond with our users as a brand, nothing can replace the physical book fairs. However, as we move to an increasingly online world – with higher proportion of buyers preferring to buy online than in-store, and more and more people shifting to eBooks and Audiobooks (Nielsen Report on Impact of COVID-19 on India Book Consumer) – it is crucial to adapt to the changing habits and needs of our customer, and online book fairs are the key to that.

It is crucial to keep online book fairs customer-centred and user-friendly, and we must make an extra effort to hold the attention of visitors in the vast expanse of internet.

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