Sleepless walkers of IIMA

Publishers go under heavy chiselling at the Publishers Training Programme.

03 Jul 2013 | By Supreeth Sudhakaran

24 June was a special Sunday for a group of 17 top executives of the publishing industry of India (and a couple of neighbouring countries too) as their memory scooted its way back to their college days when they reached IIM Ahmedabad for the third edition of Publishers Training Programme, organised by the German Book Office (New Delhi), Frankfurt Book Fair and IIM Ahmedabad.

The delegates to the Publishers Training Programme reached a day early (23 June) for the induction of the programme. The five-day programme is not only about brushing-up the skills of the delegates and keep them abreast with the latest trends, issues and opportunities in publishing industry but also about exchanging ideas.

For the induction ceremony, Dr H Anil Kumar, librarian and head NICMAN, IIMA along with Claudia Kaise, vice president, business development, Frankfurt Book Fair, and professor Mukund R Dixit, faculty – IIMA, welcomed the guests and took them briefly through the history and vision of the programme before warning them to be prepared for the next five days of being the new “sleepless” walkers on IIMA campus. Albeit, initially, the delegates found it funny but when they received the schedules of the programme and the details about the sessions, the smile simply vanished in thin air!

Professor Dixit added his bit to the shock by informing the “students” that they were expected to read and comprehend over 60 pages of case studies and theories, as well as report to the class before 8:45 am sharp for a series of exhaustive sessions on various topics; unless they were willing to see the professor walk-out of the class! Nevertheless, the jitters of the “new style” of living gave way to a mix of excitement and anticipation.  

While Proff Dixit in his 2.5 hours lecture put the students at the helm of, post the demise of Steve Jobs, and asked them to formulate the business strategy of the company for the next five years, Dr Kumar extensively talked about a number of innovative initiatives in the field of publishing and education; and tipped it with a crash course in the Open Access model that has been gaining traction lately.

In sync with the current trend of M&A in the industry, Rahul Srivastava, director, Simon & Schuster India spoke in depth about various factors that need to be considered before opening up to (or approaching) another company for a joint-venture, acquisition or merger.

Akshay Pathak, independent publishing consultant and former director of GBO (New Delhi), took the sessions of the first day a step ahead. He proposed the delegates to push the walls of their imagination and envision a time in distant future when there would be no books, no eBook, and not even apps.

The exercise, although, initially threatened to expose the dearth of the out-of-the-box ideas from one of the finest minds of the industry, it soon turned out to be a fun exercise that helped everyone’s imagination fly in the open skies; perhaps, beyond too.  After all, a little laughter wouldn’t have hurt “sleepless walkers”.