On 16 April 2012, during the London Book Fair, NBPC core committee took forward a big step forward to gain momentum for its Book City project. In the first of its kind initiative and probably the first of its challenge for the top ten book printers in India, the global publishers were invited to discover India as a hub for the book industry at the Indian Noon event held at level one of Earl’s Court, the venue for London Book Fair.
The idea of this conference was proposed during yet again a first of its kind National Book Printer’s Conference which was held at Thiruvanthapuram in November 2011.
The two sessions at this event revolved around the theme of the event of ability, affordability and adaptability. The first session by Pramod Khera was an overview of the Indian book printing industry.
Khera through his presentation emphasised on the fact that the interest in India as a book market clearly has two aspects to it: the domestic market and secondly, as an outsourcing destination for printing. "The endeavour is to make book printing industry in India a well-directed, income and profit generating industry with a well-charted future capable of handling global requirements."
Khera focussed on various supplementary rationales that make India the “outsourcing destination for book printing”. He spoke about the Indian ability by citing examples of India being the second most attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) among manufacturing investors.
The adaptability to partner with global publishers was emphasised by the fact that India is the third largest consumer of English books after USA and UK and the number of books published in English is growing by 30 percent every year. Inviting publishers to explore India as a publishing destination which will eventually lead to growth of book printing in India, Khera quoted from a CLSA report on education that said that: "Market for higher education in India is projected to grow almost three times in the next ten years. Current private education market in India of approximately 40 billion US dollars is expected to grow to 115 billion US dollars in the next 10 years. Indian education market uses about $2 billion of textbooks every year.”
The presentation came to an end with synopsis of Book City concept in India, which will be an eco-system for setting up the content management and print services. Under this concept, the top ten book print firms (with a partner in the infrastructure space) will build the infrastructure and invite content, print and related media companies / entrepreneurs to offer services and products – being tenants both in a central SEZ and a domestic tariff zone.
If the first session endorsed the theme of Book City, the second session which was a panel discussion with leading global publishers analysed to explore its possibilities as a concept.
Chaired by Dominic Mills, group editor of Redwood Publishing group, the panel had David Murray, operation director of HarperCollins along with Neil Bradford, Random House divisional production director and David Hetherington, Baker & Taylor vice president for academic/educational merchandising and digital printing who had written an article on the Book City in March 2012 had said: “Book City is designed to leverage India's well-established capabilities in the pre-press area—including colour management, image editing, traditional typesetting, page layout, content digitisation and content conversion combined with geographically centralised book manufacturing. The vision quite literally has all of the critical elements—design and editorial services, pre-press, short-run digital printing, sheetfed and web offset, binding of all types, fulfillment operations, either co-located or in regional hubs—sharing a common information technology infrastructure and, perhaps most importantly, easy access to competitively priced air and ocean freight. The objective of this proximate location is to offer publishers across the globe an end-to-end solution rather than a single point of specialised service such as pre-press or printing, an integrated solution versus a one-off.
The publishers on the panel debated over the Book City concept through their dealings with Indian book printers, their perception of the book printing market in India, the requirements in the form of a partner rather than a supplier of services with whom they can grow collectively and where India stands in comparison to other book printing destinations for the global world.
Bradford who feels that India is the most exciting marketplace for production of physical books said: “Getting past the mindset of publishers will be a great initiative but I also think that it will be a change for the Indian book printers as well who are stuck with a certain mindset. Because whenever I have seen a group of suppliers in a room, it doesn’t take very long before I start shafting each other. If you could keep your direction together, then I think that will be an achievement in itself.”
When it came to discuss the pricing, Mills summarised that the publishers are looking at the “P” word for partnership and not pricing.
On the other hand Murray felt that “collectively the Indian printers might be able to undercut China where they are finding it difficult to compete.”
The three publishers unanimously agreed that Book City will have to be feasible not only from the process standpoint but also from the economics standpoint.
10 May 2013, Vol VI Issue 1
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