The capital has two book fairs, strategically scheduled around six months apart. Among them, the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF), organised under the aegis of the National Book Trust, India (usually held in February, now being shifted to January), has been growing leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. This has left its poor cousin, the Delhi Book Fair (DBF), organised by the Federation of Indian Publishers, in Association of the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), poorer. As publishers and the other stakeholders in the business focus on NDWBF, participation in DBF seems to be dwindling.
This year, there was hardly any buzz about the 22nd edition of the show. Even exhibitor attendance was lacklustre at the show held from 27 August to 4 September 2016. However, we noticed a healthy footfall of visitors. They were the usual suspects, booklovers looking for discounts, and higher education students, looking for course-related books and occasional trade books, and schoolchildren and their parents. There were lots to choose for schoolchildren, from books and other reading material, to writing instruments like pens, pencils and colouring material (multicolour pens and sketch pens with brush-like tips were much in demand), and notebooks of different kinds.
The display of writing material was part of the annual Stationery Fair, organised by ITPO, held concurrently with DBF. The regular showing at DBF this year helped the Stationery Fair hog the limelight, at least in our eyes. There were ranges of art instruments from companies like Camlin, Faber-Castell and others. There were wide varieties of pens, from luxury brands like Cross, Shaffer, Parker, Luxor, Staedtler, among others. However, what impressed us most was the array of notebooks on display, of different shape, size and design, from different companies.
Return of longhand
Writing is writing. Yet, as digital writing (via keyboard displayed on a screen) becomes mainstay of our lives, the traditional art of writing has acquired a new name – longhand.
Today, notebooks are strictly a part of school material. It itself is a huge market. The success of a company like Navneet, which was also at the show, is the testament to it. On the other side, look at Ahmedabad-based Line O Matic, the company which has revolutionised the exercise notebook converting industry and in turn has grown leaps and bounds with more than 2,000 installations across the globe.
At the Stationery Fair, however, we noticed another trend, alongside traditional lined exercise notebooks for schoolchildren – designer, luxury notebooks/journals targeted at adult customers. We are not talking about Moleskine; it is a league on its own. We are not talking about diaries, which has an altogether different market. These are plain notebooks (some inspired by Moleskine), beautifully bound and printed, either ruled or plain, with special papers, with eye-catching designs and colours. More than paper, the unique aspects of the notebooks are finishing and design. They come in different sizes and colours, some plain and some in eye-catching exclusive graphics, and they are bound in different substrates – chart paper, leatherite, canvas, craft paper, and even denim.
It’s a visible trend, and everybody has jumped the bandwagon – paper manufacturers like Bindals Papers Mills; traditional converters like IPP (with the brand Paperisto); book publishers and printers like Nova Publication, dedicated notebook players like Modabook and Paperpassion and handmade paper manufacturers like Paper Theatre, and even a start up like Bunk Pages.
What new do these companies bring to the good old notebook? The answer is simple. They make these notebooks luxury items, a conversation starter, much like a Cross or Mont Blanc pen. Hopefully they would also entice the user to write something on it, with a modest pen or pencil, if not a luxury pen.
The notebooks are sold in the retail market via online retail outlets, and via their own websites. The price ranges from Rs 150 onwards (sometimes even less depending on the number of pages, size, designs and so on.). However, the bulk of their business depends on corporate orders, as gifts. A company like Paperpassion, which is also into other paper stationery items, including table calendar, and Modabook has the facility and knowhow to customise the products according to client needs. On the other hand, Bunk Pages, run by a group of youngsters, invites brands to advertise with them within the notebooks.
Jalandhar-based Nova Publications is a leading publisher in CBSE/ ICSE/ state board schoolbooks and children books. The company has its own sales and distribution network throughout India, Southeast Asia and Gulf countries. It has close to 2000 titles published under its name. Evergreen Publications and Ved Parkash & Sons are its sister concerns. In the paper stationery division, the company manufactures painting books, colouring books, art and craft books and notebooks of different kinds.
Paperisto from IPP
With Paperisto, Noida-based International Print-O-Pac (the company which won the PrintWeek India Printing Company of the Year in 2010), aims to offer imaginatively designed and carefully crafted stationery products catering to lifestyle and education. From notebooks to subject books, from writing pads to note pads, from reminder notes to tape pads, it has an extensive range suit every need.
Paperisto means paper-maker in Esperanto and it denotes the move from the unimaginative approach to stationery items we use in our everyday lives to the bright, modern and liberating world, where stationery items of daily use are a means of living the good life.
Paperisto’s wide range of collection includes five subject notebook hardcase notebook; conference pads; soft cover wiro; six subject notebook; hardcase blank book; writing pads; soft cover spiral; PP 5 subject wiro notebook; hardcase wiro notebook; note pads; reminder notes; flexi wiro notebook; hardcase executive notebook; tape pads, colouring books, among others.
The Bunk Pages website says that bored with the plain old notebooks, a group of friend came up with the idea of Bunk Pages. While creating some fun interesting notebooks, it hit them that they could do a lot more; they could create a medium of free speech. With this in mind, they set out to design a new species of notebooks. They decided to let the youth vent, whip and stir up the conventional regressive notions and talk without any censorship about the things that affect them.
The notebooks boast cool cover design. It is a platform for youth to raise their words and to break down the stereotype thinking of society. Bunk Pages is the first-of-its-kind notebook, which addresses the issues of youth. Targeted at college students, the company says the notebooks are available in all colleges in Delhi-NCR.
With the name Taj, you can guess that the company is from Agra. Taj White is a brand from Upkar Stationery, which itself is a part of the Upkar-Darpan Group. Pioneered by Mahendra Jain, the company is known for Upkar career books, and the monthly Pratiyogita Darpan, the largest read youth magazine in India.
The company recently launched a wide range of exercise notebooks, registers, scrapbooks, notepads and other stationery products targeted at diverse age groups. With innovative cover designs, each Taj White notebook dons a classy look. According to the company, the notebooks are fashioned to look premium but are priced reasonably, to give value for money.
Bindals Papers Mills
Bindals Papers Mills Limited is part of the dynamic Bindal Group with annual revenues exceeding to Rs 10 billion. The group has a diversified business portfolio in manufacturing of packaging grades of paper and paperboards, tissue papers, iron and steel, besides trading of commodities.
Bindals’ identified a significant investment opportunity in the high-end printing and writing paper sector by setting up a modern greenfield plant in Muzaffarnagar, UP with a manufacturing capacity of 1,00,000 TPY. The state-of-the-art paper machine produces a wide range of printing and writing paper products. From the quality of pulp to the paper machine, the company ensures delivery of consistently high quality products to customers.
The product range broadly includes surface-sized high brightness papers (uncoated wood-free), cut-size branded multipurpose paper as well as non-surface sized Maplitho grades for the growing education sector and other specific applications.
The company’s stationery division was established in 1993. The paper stationery division manufactures and distributes premium quality notebooks, long books and other stationery products like drawing books, scrap books, hobby stationery, office stationery, among others. All the products enjoy high loyalty from the student fraternity. Navneet also exports its stationery products and children’s books to Middle East, Europe, Africa, the US and South America.
The company maintains its product quality standards, including eye-catching and educative cover designs, keeping in mind the target audience – school and college students. It uses eco-buddy paper. This differentiating factor is usage of bagasse-based paper in maximum products.
Paper Theatre is a sister concern of Delhi-based Paavan Patram, a more than 30-year-old company. It manufactures, fabricates and exports handmade papers and paper products. The company believes that good art and design should be shared and believes in creating a sustainable green world. All its products are handmade, one at a time, using various techniques, including printing, painting, cutting and pasting and pretty much anything else you can do with handmade paper.
The company started in late 1970 after years of manufacturing handmade paper in its factory based in Kalpi, near Kanpur, UP. Since then, the company has expanded to journals, photo-frame, lampshade and more.
Naraina, Delhi-based Paperpassion believes in perfect blending of designs, inspirations and functionalities. It encompasses new concepts of diaries, planners, calendars, journals and functional notebooks with creative templates for information preservation, improving productivity and responsiveness.
Mumbai-based Modabooks offers quality notebooks to express thoughts, feelings and ideas. Made from quality paper and bound to perfection, these notebooks incite to write. Smooth finish and strong paper made using advanced technology gives the notebooks long life and durability.
The notebooks are available in numerous varieties. The soft and hard covers are presented in both Leather and Leatherite with a diverse choice of colours. It also offer spiral notebooks, which come in numerous sizes and colours. Modabooks also have soft pasting paper notebooks that have soft paper cover. Made from high-grade paper, these have simple modernistic covers that enhance the looks and give stylish appearance.
Modabooks offers special customised services for corporate to personalise their notebooks. The company prints notebooks tailor-made as per specific size, design and need.
It was a successful fair for us. We sold books worth Rs 5 lakh during the fair, and generated approximately 50 enquiries from schools for library books purchase. Approximately 50 new booksellers wanted to purchase our self-study books directly from us. Teachers also visited our stall, requested samples of our sample papers, and recently launched engineering entrance books. Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Publishers awarded first prize to our English Reader book. During the show, we organised a spot drawing competition in two age groups. Total 248 students from 31 schools attended the competition. The winners were given the Evergreen eBook tablets.
Meanwhile, Nova Publications displayed over 400 different products in register notebook, copies, drawing pads, graph book, five subject notebook, etc. Booksellers from NCR visited our stall and we have received more than 120 enquiries. Schoolchildren also purchased the notebooks from our stall. We have seen a rising interest among students in our notebooks and registers. Teachers showed interest in our drawing pads and other colouring books, along with graph books and sketchbooks.
Aman Chopra, Evergreen Publications
Paperisto by IPP received encouraging responses with keen distributor interest and robust retail sales. We are now certain that a market for premium stationery has come of age, and the gap between organised brands and the rest is broadening. This will be further helped by introduction of GST next year, which will help in consolidation of organised brands and will further diminish the unorganised sector.
Paperisto’s recently launched children’s activity range includes colouring activity, cursive writing and dot-to-dot books.
Rishabh Singhvi, International Print-O-Pac
The ITPO has been organising the Stationery Fair since 1998, showcasing the progress made by the Indian stationery sector. The stationery industry has been given special focus by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Government of India. The market for writing instruments and notebooks is witnessing a sharp growth of about 30% per annum.
Delhi Book Fair 2016
This year, Delhi Book Fair also highlighted the initiatives undertaken by the central government for its ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan’, the flagship programme to inculcate better reading habits. The fair saw over 250 exhibitors, including publishers, booksellers and distributors, besides educational institutions. School students were allowed free entry to encourage their participation in different activities organised that the fair. The book fair also proved to be an excellent place to hunt for works of Hindi and Urdu literature, not available easily in city bookstores. However, it was the academic books and other educational books that made good business.