Bringing publishers together…virtually!

The Indian Virtual Book Fair was started as an attempt to cope with the crisis that hit the publishing ecosystem as India went into lockdown in March 2020. One major aspect of the discussions was how to publish, promote and deliver books to the reader, looking beyond the traditional, limited book supply chain.

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Virtual Book Fair (VBF) is a collective effort by the publishers to strengthen the future of the book publishing industry and an alternative solution to present and future challenges. “For long, readers have had difficulty in finding the book they are looking for and many publishers have not been successful in informing the readers of their available books. The publishers and readers understand each other better during the book fairs; we wanted to provide a platform that connects everyone under one roof, VBF is one such initiative. This is why we say we are not in competition with any organization rather we are an extension of their effort,” says Murali Kannadhason of The Write Publishing.

The format…

VBF will be the most helpful platform for all publishers and sellers. There will be blogs, reviews, and author meetings only to make the reader enjoy the books more. The ease of use will only bring in more business for publishers. The VBF shortly will break the trend of publishers depending on book fairs and library orders for their survival. “A good book need not be a hard sell if the information was made available in the right place. The VBF platform will host all the information an author or publisher would need to get the book published and reach potential customers at the click of a button,” adds Murali.

Businesses will gain more access to a wider audience and can explore the potential of making their book available in other languages. As for book lovers, they will get all the info they need about the book such as reviews, ebook, audiobook, nearest dealer etc. VBF is the bridge that connects.

“Fair days will be B2C and with that data, it will help the publisher push for B2B. B2B activities will be part of VBF in more of business development. We are gathering the data of sellers, printers, translators, binders, rights exchange, etc. This could help the industry be more organized and have more positive growth,” he adds.

The frequency…

The virtual book fair will happen once every quarter for one month and 2 Clearance sales a year. So the remaining days (non-fair days), other e-commerce players can get the publishers to endorse them to give back links to their sites for their books. There will be B2B activities, review blogs, rights exchange and monthly book launches.

The USP…

“Information is the key for success. What the industry lacks is the communication of the availability. Physical exhibitions are places where people go to find what they are looking for, VBF can do that more efficiently & complementing that process. VBF will be more successful in the long run as it is more cost-effective and will have a global reach,” says Karthikeyan Pugalendi of Vanavil Puthakalayam.

“The Virtual Book Fair is similar to the physical Book Fair with each publisher getting their stalls. Virtual book fair works in multiple phases with four book fairs a year. So when you commit to a stall at this virtual book fair, you are looking at a model that is sustainable throughout the year,” he adds.

The target audience…

The Indian Virtual book Fair LLP is a SaaS (Software as a Service) company by the publishers and for the publishers. VBF will work with various bookfair and publishing associations pan India as an extension of the physical book fairs and lit fests they host in the coming years which will keep some kind of sale, promotion, or book launch throughout the year.

“We are currently getting the Tamil Nadu publishers on board and then move forward to other states and get them to join us as well. This is not just pan India but more of global access as well. Indian language authors outside India would need access to the Indian market and vice versa,” says Kannan Sundaram of Kalachuvadu Publication Pvt Ltd.

The first VBF…

“The first VBF will be held early October or Diwali launch as we are currently updating and uploading all the data, fine-tuning the glitches etc,” tells Gandhi Kannadhasan. They are expecting 25 stalls for the first fair and hope to make it 10 times the size by end of the year. They expect 5,00,000 visitors for the first fair and hope that the numbers will grow with SEO and user word of mouth.

The future…

“This is something new. We don’t have competitors as yet. The main highlight is that a product owner (publisher in our case) needs to build his ecommerce site, get his books reviewed by a magazine or media house and go to a literary agent for cross-selling. But VBF gives them all in one place. It is quite clear that the possibility of revamping physical book fairs — which have been the mainstay for language publishers — is ruled out for the present,” tells Pugalendi Subbiah.

“VBF has taken a bold step to make the publishing industry unite for a bigger success. VBF takes no commission on a sale; VBF only charges an annual fee for the service it is going to provide the publishers with the kind of information that will help them make informed decisions. Wishlist features of VBF will help the publisher know the demand before investing in the number of copies. No good book should be HARD to sell. The features we are bringing on VBF will make the publisher unleash the full potential of the digital age and show the multi dimensions of the publishing industry. VBF is a phenomenal concept it is going to take the unity of Industry to be the best in the World. India has to lead by example,” concludes Badri Seshadri.


Book Therapy: Reading is Life!

I want tell you about a book I am publishing through www.menschpublishing.com for reasons of evangelism for the book and for friendship in the book industry. India is a country of philosophers, writers, artists, musicians, dancers and mystics but books are what join all these different creative spirits and books are what allow different countries to talk to each other and books are great medicine for bodies, minds, and businesses.

Book Therapy is an extremely diverse and intriguing collection of stories that have provided my friend, Jordi Nadal with lessons in life and living in times of difficulty and stress. The book reflects on thirty-three authors from all over the world and across time periods including Chekhov, Elena Ferrante, C.S. Lewis, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Buddha.

To reflect on these authors and their stories, is to ‘sit by the fireplace of heaven,’ as Nadal has described. Each story provides a kind of soothing balm to life’s everyday anxieties, and the book serves as a guide for living your life better by reading. What’s more, this is a not-for-profit venture, and any royalties made from the book will be donated to Give A Book, a charity that ‘promotes the pleasure of reading in the hardest places,’ working mostly with prisons and disadvantaged children.

–Richard Charkin

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