Serendipity Of Book Fairs!


Book Fairs are vital for the publishing industry and this issue, publishing professionals share their views on Future of Book Fairs. While each one of them describes the importance of physical fairs, at the same time they accept that online fairs have kept the publishing industry together in these unprecedented times.

David Unger, General Secretary of the International Conference of Book Fair Directors shares book fairs require in-person contact and has heard from many literary agencies the need to meet other agents, scouts and editors is an essential part of their business. He further adds, “Online book fairs reveal to their visitors that they are still “alive” and can provide amazing content—authors, panels, concerts, readings, debates, etc.”

Richard Charkin, member of the international advisory board of the Frankfurt Book Fair, shares Book Fairs will always be the place for meeting colleagues, re-invention, new projects, discovering new routes to market for the future, etc. He further says that publishers will spend less on sending people overseas and ‘statement’ stands will be replaced by more workmanlike professional meeting places, and fairs will gradually move from a single fixed time slot into 24×7 365 days a year digital showcases with renewed focus on return on investment.

The Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF, September 14-18, 2021) along with the five-day physical book fair, has the upgraded digital platform SMART!BIBF so as to facilitate the participation of those who may not be able to go to Beijing in person.

“Hybrid models and digital integration will become a common additional option,” says Andy Ventris, Director, The London Book Fair. While, Claudia Kaiser, Vice President, Frankfurt Book Fair also says that hybrid fairs are here to stay and they hope to continue to engage new visitors through their digital programs and platform as well. But, “Serendipity” is so important and that is what people are looking forward to again with an in-person fair…the chance meetings that brings opportunities.

In India, we are all set to witness the Indian Virtual Book Fair in October, which aims for businesses to gain more access to a wider audience and a global reach. While, New Delhi World Book Fair is a much awaited annual calendar event for book lovers and the publishing industry across the globe. Due to the pandemic, National Book Trust, India organized the 29th New Delhi World Book Fair from March 6-9, 2021 as a Virtual Edition, which was visited by booklovers from about 70 countries and about 600 cities, including US, UK, UAE, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Brazil, Nigeria, Netherlands, amongst others.

“Post pandemic, we expect book fairs to be same as before, if the economic conditions do not undergo much change. The readers would love to have physical contact with the books before they buy,” tells E N Nandakumar, President, Kochi International Book Festival.

Till we meet again, keep reading and keep safe……

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