Even as the World Book Fair turns into an annual affair, publishing industry bigwigs feel the need for more such fairs in different parts of India to reach out to the “marginalised” and “hinterland readers” as well as harness “untapped potential of language media” publications.
“Only having one large world book fair in Delhi is not enough. We need to reach out within the market through the language publishing media by taking these book fairs to every corner of the country that speaks different languages,” said Ravi Deecee, CEO D C Books.
Deecee, who heads one of the country’s largest retail chain, said there was dire need of book fairs, which focused on the regional languages of the country.
“What we need is more fairs focusing on regional languages like Malayalam, Punjabi, Bengali and other eastern tongues. Reaching out to those readers in a win-win situation both for the publishers as well for languages in dire need of attention,” he said.
He was participating in a round-table event “CEO Speak - a Forum for Publishing” organised in partnership with National Book Trust and FICCI as a collateral event of the World Book Fair, which began here on February 4.
The event saw captains from the publishing industry exchanging ideas and sharing business and book trade-related issues and concerns such as industry status for the publishing industry, implementation of National Book Promotion Policy, related issues as well as digital media.
The focus of the first-of-its kind annual forum aimed to evolve a composite agenda of publishing in India, and among other things, for the proper projection of Indian publishing in international book trade in order to strengthen the business component of the New Delhi World Book Fair.
“We hereby urge the government to accord industry status to the publishing industry and also hope that the National Book Promotion Policy will be eventually implemented benefiting both the industry as well the readers,” said Sidharth Birla, senior Vice-President, FICCI.
Eminent author and Minister of state, HRD, Shashi Tharoor in his brief keynote address said the Indian publishing industry has certainly improved over the years.
“The future of the publishing industry certainly looks encouraging. I had a difficult time finding s publisher for my first book but it’s not so difficult these days, I guess. The quality and the editorial content too have improved over the years,” Mr. Tharoor said.
Issues of book piracy and online piracy, corruption, need for library movements at the Panchayati Raj level and loss of bibliographic heritage too found mention at the three-hour log discussion.
“We are not an industry in India. And, then we have pulp books available through piracy in the streets and now free illegal downloads through the Internet are hampering our growth. We need anti-piracy awareness programme in the school to curb the menace,” a delegate said.
The issue of disappearance or unavailability of rare and illustration-based format book was also raised at the venue.
“Large illustration format book does not work with digital format. So that they have to be reduced or compromised in terms of its beauty and aesthetics so as to comply with say an i-Pad configuration. How do we save such works of artistic books that need preservation too,” Vipin Shahboo, a delegate said.
Kailash Balani, MD, Aditya Books who moderated an Open House session said, “Out of the 250 billion strong global publishing industry, India hardly constitutes 2 million.
“Low library budgets standing at 2 per cent of the GDP also are a bottleneck in reaching out to the reader at the rural levels,” Mr. Balani said.
According to a FICCI report, India is the only country where books are published in more than 20 languages with approximately 90,000 titles published each year.
Earlier Eric Yang, executive director of Korean Publishers’ Association delivered a talk on ‘Korean Book Market’ on the occasion of India being the guest of honour at the Seoul International Book Fair in June 2013.
The participants numbering about 80-100 included, Elsevier, Cambridge University Press, Publishers Association, UK, S Chand Group, DC Books, Pratham Books, Manupatra information Solutions, German Book Office, associate of the Frankfurt Book Fair which is the world’s largest, among others.