What exhibitors want?
Book fairs provide great opportunity to catch up with the publishing fraternity, booksellers, authors, and book lovers under one roof, besides providing a platform to exhibitors to showcase their offerings, brand building, sale and purchase of rights, etc. But, what do exhibitors want?
All About Book Publishing spoke to a cross-section of exhibitors at various national and international book fairs to know what they expect from a book fair, its importance for them and how online book fairs are faring in this pandemic. It is interesting to note that all exhibitors look forward to their participation at book fair and wish offline book fairs to be back soon as for them, face-to-face interaction is very important for making ties and networking.
Here are the excerpts.
It’s a forum for deals & negotiations
Genre: K-12 Publishing
Book fairs attended: Frankfurt Book Fair, London Book Fair, Cairo International Book Fair, Nigeria International Book Fair, Ghana International Book Fair, Sharjah International Book Fair, Delhi Book Fair and New Delhi World Book Fair.
Most important book fair: Book fairs like Frankfurt and London, have been highly rewarding for our personal erudition as well as trade augmentation. Through these international book fairs, we have acquired exclusive distributor rights with some of the leading publishers. In days gone by, when there was rare technological prospective of education in India, I got introduced to features like Augmented Reality App, Artificial Intelligence, LMS, E-learning, Flip Books, Audio Books, etc. That time, I speculated if all this would ever be possible for Indian Publishing Industry, and all thanks to globalisation that has turned the tables for us.
Importance of book fairs: I actually see it as an opportunity for mushrooming, edification, and a constructive forum of phenomenal deals and negotiations. We get novel and contemporary ideas, create new networks; not just this, in effect we discover about discrete titles, merchandising strategies, etc.
On online vs offline book fairs: I think, in an optimistic way, virtual book fairs can break the geographical boundaries, outsetting avenues for people who have been homebound. On the other hand, I feel somewhere we aren’t fully satiated or gratified with the connectivity and sales target that we accomplish during normalcy. The bond that we create face-to-face with our buyers and investors goes completely missing.
-Neeraj Gupta, Managing Director, Rachna Sagar Private Limited
It brings a close connection with people
Genre: School textbooks
Book fairs attended: New Delhi World Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair
Importance of book fairs: Book fair helps our business because I can meet a lot of prospective vendors and showcase the varied collection of books that Som Sudha has. It brings a close connection with all the people involved in the book world, including distributors, vendors, publishers and anyone related to the book industry. It bridges the gap between them and associates them beneficially.
On online vs offline book fairs: Online book fairs are successful because they reach a lot of members at one particular time. But, offline book fairs are more effective because we can see and feel the book content in person.
-Rupendra Kashyap, MD, Som Sudha Prakashan
Book fairs tell the future of trade
Genre: Children’s books for Pre-schools
Book fairs attended: New Delhi World Book Fair
Importance of book fairs: They bring together writers, publishers, agents, distributors, retailers and book lovers together on a single platform. Authors get a chance to meet their fans and foster stronger relationships with people and publishers. Also, they tell the future of trade where the trade is going and what technology publishers are using. They also inform us about thoughts and developments in education field.
Expectations from book fairs: Helps to meet all type of people like authors, content developers, animation creators, DTP operators, graphic designers, printers, publishers etc on one platform.
On online vs offline book fairs: I think book fairs will be a mix of both offline as well as online fairs. because it is a blend of tradition and technology.
-Ankit Dani, Blue Bells (India) Publication
Each book fair is different
Genre: An imprint of Ratna Sagar Pvt Ltd for translation of quality texts from Indian language to English.
Importance of book fairs: Book fairs play a big role in supporting the publishing industry. They provide opportunities to all stakeholders – authors, readers, designers, librarians, printers, editors, publishers, publicity persons and the general public – to converge at a point and get a wider perspective of new trends in publishing.
Expectations from book fairs: Some book fairs such as those in Frankfurt and London have a major focus on sale of rights and are forums for the publishing activity to take new wings in terms of markets or languages or tie-ups. Some book fairs have sales as their focus and help many publishers in brisk sales. So you go to different book fairs with different expectations.
On online vs offline book fairs: It’s difficult to assess the success of online book fairs. I think everyone considers this a temporary measure. I prefer actual book fairs with person to person interaction, not virtual ones.
-Dinesh Sinha, Executive Editor, Ratna Books
We welcome both offline & online fairs
Genre: Text books in Engineering and Food Technology and Biotechnology
Book fairs attended: New Delhi World Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair and London Book Fair
Importance of book fairs: Book fairs are back bone for the industry. We get better exposure and helps to develop relations with clients and fellow traders. Book Fairs gives us chance to display our books in wide range and improve for business.
Expectations from book fairs: Virtual Book Fairs will be cost effective. Thanks to technology we can reach wider customer base.
Interesting incident: Scitech got “Excellence in Book Publishing” award twice. It has helped us to gain confidence and for export of our books
On online vs offline book fairs: In future, online book fairs will be the order of the day. We welcome both offline as well as online book fairs, depending on the clientele taste and preference.
-M.R. Purushothaman, Managing Director, Scitech Publications (India) Pvt. Ltd
Book fairs are professional meeting grounds
Genre: Academic, professional and general publishing. Leading distributor of books on Science & Technology, Management, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Book fairs attended: Frankfurt Book fair , London Book Fair, BookExpo America, New Delhi World Book Fair, Delhi Book Fair, Kolkata Book Fair and many other regional and international Book Fairs in India and abroad.
Most important book fair: The most important book fair for me is Frankfurt Book Fair. I have been attending this for over 25 years. In the initial years, participation immensely helped in setting up business partnerships with British, American and European Publishers. I would like to specially mention the learning from the seminars and conferences about publishing trends, emerging technologies, role of social media, e-books, translation and reprint rights, Intellectual property rights etc.
Importance of book fairs: Book fairs are very important for the new budding publishers for their brand building, finding new customers as well as launching their line of products and developing distribution network within India as well as abroad. For the well-established publishers, book fairs provide great opportunity to catch up with the publishing fraternity, booksellers, authors, and book lovers under one roof. There is an enormous difference between western book fairs which are majorly B2B and highly professional meeting grounds for publishers, international buyers etc. whereas Indian book fairs which are open to general public, students, academicians and professionals apart from members of the book industry attract big crowds and are more of a cultural event.
Expectations from book fairs: Branding, promotions, meeting new B2B customers, prospective authors and interaction with the readers. It is exciting to interact and get feedback from students, teachers, and book lovers.
On online vs offline book fairs: I am not a great fan of online book fairs. To get visitors to the virtual fair, social media companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and search engines like Google have to be engaged extensively as for promotion of the event. It would be helpful if they are engaged as partner or sponsor to make the virtual fairs highly successful.
-Manish Kumar Gupta, Managing Director, Atlantic Books
Online fairs are safe platform for customers today
Genre: Distributor of educational books in Bihar, Jharkhand & Odisha
Book fairs attended: Patna Book Fair
Importance of book fairs: Book fairs are of immense importance; we get to know about what’s new in the market, new releases, books, trends, developments and much more. Publishers and distributors get a chance to interact directly with the customers and build strong networks. This also helps in promotion and boost in sale of books.
During my personal visits in the book fairs, I have seen many curious and avid readers going through as many books they can, doing an in-depth research, enjoying the rich content the books have to offer, and spending time to find the book which is the most suitable for them.
Expectations from book fairs: Publishers participate in such fairs to promote themselves and generate orders from new clients. They look forward to build connections and tie up with new authors, distributors and customers and have intend to collaborate with new and upcoming firms.
On online vs, offline book fairs: Online book fairs are pretty much successful. The pandemic has engulfed the whole world into various restrictions and online fairs is the only safe platform for customers to get what they need without any hassle.
But, I think a mix of both would be viable to cater the needs of different kind of customers. while some prefer ordering from the comfort of their houses, others want to make an offline visit explore varieties in person and then make a call, but given the pandemic online shopping is preferable.
-Amit Kedia, Amit Book Depot
Relations made at book fairs go a long way!
Genres: Importer, distributor and library supplier in all subject areas for higher education and research
Expectations from book fairs: Books fairs are nothing but showcase of books and allied services. Book fairs help close various deals like translation rights, distributions rights, printing orders, bulk deals for books, tie-ups, understand different markets, new technologies and above all, the connect with industry stalwarts.
Personal incident: It was in 1988 when I attended Frankfurt Book Fair on my own behalf after establishing “Aditya Books” in 1987. It was the last day of the fair and I had finished all my meetings and was on my way out of the fair. One of the publishers whom I had met at one of the parties during the fair saw me and called me to say that he had some offers. Since the fair was about to close in an hour, he quickly wanted to showcase his collections and offered me such huge discount that I could not resist. Within minutes the deal was closed and we are friends since then for so many years and continue to help each other.
On online vs offline book fairs: I don’t think virtual fairs would be as successful as the physical ones. It is better to have one on one Zoom meeting with select publishers and achieve same results as you would in the virtual fair.
My choice will always remain for offline fairs. The reason being one is able to make face to face meetings and deals on the spot. The contacts and the relations that one makes at such fairs go a long way in building business.
-Kailash Balani, Managing Director, Aditya Books Pvt.Ltd.
Book fairs have helped build our brand
Genre: Software solutions like mobile applications, web applications, client-server based applications
Book fairs attended: New Delhi World Book Fair & Kolkata Book Fair , Frankfurt Book Fair, London Book Fair, Nigeria Book Fair and Colombo Book Fair
Most important book fair: London, Frankfurt, Nigeria, New Delhi World Book Fair, Kolkata – all of them have resulted in leads and new business and new partnerships for us, and have helped us build our brand.
Importance of book fairs: Book Fair is a great place for publishers to connect with authors, distributors, service providers, agents and potential international & national partnerships. Book fair is one place where new markets for the books are created by ways of translations and rights exchange. They also provide a great learning experience. Book fairs give authors a chance to talk about their work, interact with readers, sell their books, and even meet potential agents or publishers. Publishers can use book fairs as a way to reach out to audiences that they would not normally be able to reach.
We had many meetings and chance conversations resulting in long-term partnerships and business relationship.
Expectations from book fairs: Since we are service providers to publishing industry, we would like to have few days or specific time slots reserved for the business discussions in National Book Fairs– as is the trend with all the major book fairs worldwide.
On online vs offline book fairs: Though we are an IT company – but our vote goes to physical book fairs, virtual may co-exist as an option. I believe a computer screen can never match the ambience, warmth, experience, networking & business potential of the offline book fair.
-Chander Shekhar, Founder & CEO, Spring Time Software
Book fairs bring in new ideas
Genre: Software for the book trade
Book fairs attended: New Delhi World Book Fair.
Importance of book fairs: Book fairs are one of the central pillars of Logic Soft’s annual plan. We have been a part of the Delhi World Book Fair since 20+ years now. Book fairs are the stage where the stalwarts of the trade meet and greet. It gives us an opportunity to socialize with these stalwarts and to learn about other established and upcoming dynamic publishers, distributors and retailers. Fairs are also the absolute right space for us to showcase our existing software products and new developments in the pipeline. A whole lot of learning happens at Book Fairs because every customer has different processes and requirements. Discussing with them and sharing our thought process brings in a whole lot of new ideas for building products and improving the existing products
Expectations from book fairs: Our major motivation to attend these fairs is to ensure that our products continue to suit the requirements of the trade. Hence, our expectations from the fairs are to ensure that they bring as many people involved in the trade as possible under one roof. The more the people we can meet and discuss, the better our product turns out to be. Given that Logic Soft’s products are being used by leading Publishers, Distributors and Retailers across India and in other countries, it is impossible to travel around every year to meet all our customers.
On online vs offline books: Even though the reach of online fairs is much greater than the offline fairs, I still think that the experience we get is much higher is an offline fair than in an online fair. Future generation might not get to see that much of offline book fairs and hence will feel that online fairs are the de facto standard. In any business, it is important to build new relationships and the preferred method is to build relationship by meeting in person at offline book fairs.
-R. Rajagopal, Founder & Director, Logic Soft
Offline book fairs help connect in a better way
Genre: Print, pre-media (typesetting, scanning, e-pub conversion, E-learning)
Book fairs attended: New Delhi World Book Fair, London Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair, Bologna Book Fair and books fairs in African continent.
Importance of book fairs: Book fairs help in learning industry trend; we get chance to meet the customers, publishing and printing fraternity and we can also show new initiatives to a wider audience.
Expectations from fair: Better networking options where you can connect one to one, dedicated areas for business meeting even in case you don’t have a stand.
On online vs offline book fairs: Over the period of time, people can learn the trade in online book fairs; but given a choice preference would be offline books fairs where you can show sample, interact, meet and connect. For large book fairs, it would be offline as we can connect in better way. For new locations or smaller book fairs, online book fairs make sense considering budget, timeline and to understand market potential.
-Govindraj Prabhu, Manipal Group
We believe in offline book fairs
Book Fairs attended: National book fairs in Delhi, Patna, Ranchi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Agra and Kolkata.
Importance of book fairs: Most of the books fairs help in growing business finding new author, distributors and new concepts etc.
Expectations from fair: Even if we are able to meet overall expenses, we are fine with participating in book fair means if we are able to do breakeven, it works with us.
On online vs offline book fairs: As such online book fairs are not very popular and viable. We believe only in offline book fairs.
-Piyush Kumar, Prabhat Prakashan Pvt Ltd