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Bigger the newspaper boom, hotter the products

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Wooing the Indian consumer: The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries stall at IfraExpo India international exhibition on printing technologies and publishing trends at the Chennai Trade Centre.
Wooing the Indian consumer: The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries stall at IfraExpo India international exhibition on printing technologies and publishing trends at the Chennai Trade Centre.

Priscilla Jebaraj

CHENNAI: If you are reading this article from a newspaper you are still in the majority. People like you are the reason why the Indian publishing industry has reason to celebrate: India is one of the few places where newspaper readership is on a steady growth curve. This is also the reason that 100 global exhibitors flocked to the Chennai Trade Centre this week for the IfraExpo India, an international exhibition on printing technologies and publishing trends.

Growing market

“The U.S. market is down and, mostly, so is Europe. Japan is overheated… But, the Indian market is growing,” says Takashi Uchiu, at the plush Mitsubishi Heavy Industries stall.

His company sells printing machinery to high-end publishing houses, and the cash tills are ringing as the Indian newspaper boom gets bigger. “With competition higher than before, newspapers are trying to distinguish themselves from others. So, they are eager to spend on new technology,” he explains.

He is not alone in his optimism. The world’s leading suppliers to the newspaper publishing industry, including Adobe, Agfa, Fuji Photo Film, Kodak, MAN Roland, Nippon and Siemens Information Systems all have colourful stalls, slick demonstrations, and impressive presentations ready to woo the Indian consumer. At least 500 people visited the expo on Tuesday, with another thousand visitors expected over the next two days.

At the Agfa Technova stall, with its distinctive red pillars, sales personnel demonstrate the latest printing technology in a small enclosed room. More than 50 serious customers have visited so far, including several Tamil Nadu-based newspapers that the company has been trying to woo. “With the coming of FDI [foreign direct investment], there’s a whole lot of impact. People are investing in new machinery, new technology. It’s just a beginning,” enthused TechNova’s Sanjay Daryani. But, there’s more on offer than just traditional printing technology. Design software firms such as Adobe are flaunting products that will work across media. Several firms offer content management software and workflow solutions meant to integrate content for both print and online editions.

Looking beyond papers

An Ifra stall explains the concept of Newsplex, the newsroom of the future, with media convergence as the buzzword.

Workshops on podcasting and vodcasting are on. R. Subramanyam, a marketing manager at Ninestars, the company that digitised the archives of several newspapers including The Hindu, is excited about the new ways to offer news content. “We’re moving beyond e-papers… Mobile is the next big thing,” he says.

A nearby stall shows the 450 year old history of the Indian publishing industry. Mr. Subramanyam and his peers are in the process of creating a new milestone in that distinguished tradition.

If you are in the steadily growing minority reading this article on a computer screen, join the crowd.

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