Kai Buentemeyer on a book yatra in India

Kai Buentemeyer, director of Bindwel has experience of more than 30 years in manufacturing machines which have produced almost half the books consumed around the world. As the erstwhile CEO of Kolbus - a market leader in soft and hard cover adhesive binding machines - he has seen how publishing industry and book printing evolved globally, from close quarters. Buentemeyer has been visiting Indian book print firms and one multinational publisher in Delhi NCR. Dibyajyoti Sarma reports.

29 Nov 2023 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

(l-r) P Sajith, Sanandan Seth and Kai Buentemeyer

Kai Buentemeyer told PrintWeek that “India is definitely the largest consumer of books. And the consumption is spread over a multitude of languages. It is a wonderful experience to observe in the book factories and warehouses, how the publishers and printers - spread over different segments, trade, children's books and education - are addressing these requirements." He added, "I met a leading multinational publisher for whom the requirement is not just to meet the requirement just in time, but at the same time to do so with meeting their sustainability goals."  

Buentemeyer continued, "I met India’s largest test prep educational publishers who employ more than 600 people in their printing plant - and also employ the entire gamut of technology inkjet digital, sheetfed and web offset printing. And finally I met a multi faceted print house which has investments in books,converting and packaging and despite the challenges of availability of space has got one of the most organised book print factories that I have seen in the world."

Kai Buentemeyer is in India for a book yatra from 26 November to 2 December, mainly to confabulate and branstorm with the who's who of book publishing and printing. Presently, Buentemeyer is in Delhi, having one-to-one meetings with publishers and printers. These include Penguin Random House, Arihant Publications and Replika Press.

Kai Buentemeyer at Penguin Random House

In addition to helming ops at Kolbus, Buentemeyer had spearheaded the company’s  foray into luxury packaging. As a director and advisor to the Bindwel-Stelda group, he plans to understand India’s domestic and international requirements for book manufacturing and tertiary packaging.

“Books are complex products to pack and dispatch. A distributor or retailer may ask for a different set of books, all packed tightly into a box and delivered without damages. And the publisher wants to do this in a sustainable way. I was amazed with the Penguin Random House warehousing facility and as to how their supply chain logistics is. I am sure that the FMCG companies can learn a few lessons from them, said Buentemeyer. He had a detailed discussion with Ajay Joshi, who is vice president of supply chain at  Penguin Random House, and is spearheading the group's sustainability initiatives in India, over and above meeting the fulfillment targets.

Later, Buentemeyer visited the plant of Arihant Publications in Meerut. He said, "I am amazed by the way they meet the requirements of students in the most affordable manner. They use multiple technologies, mixing them the right way to ensure that the books are made available on time, every time."

Speaking to PrintWeek, Parvesh Jain, the director of Arihant Publications group said, "In a short span of time, I could understand the vision of Kai Buentemeyer. This was an enlightening experience for me. I am proud that Bindwel has the support of such visionaries. I feel this will help them develop and deliver book machines which we need to produce the best quality of books. As Buentemeyer said, it's not about just solving problems that we had in the past, but also planning about what will help us stay ahead in the future."

Kai Buentemeyer inspecting a book which has been produced using the Bindline at Arihant Publications in their Meerut factory

At both Arihant Publications and at Replika, Buentemeyer could see the Bindlines post-press kit from Bindwel in operation, along with the Kolbus binders.

Sanandan Seth of Replika spoke of the book print behemoth's years of experience and relationship with Kolbus. Seth said, "We have moved to a new partner for supply of perfect binders and that's Bindwel. We have installed a Bindline with gathering systems which is equipped with signature recognition and the binder has full automatic features." Seth added, "We hope to work with the Bindwel team for many more requirements and with the support of experienced mentors like Buentemeyer, that we will have a strong possibility that we will have a future-ready book binding machine which is made for the world - and manufactured in India."

Kai Buentemeyer concluded, "Today, I hope to meet fifty publishers and printers during the PrintWeek-Bindwel organised India Book Mission at the India Habitat Centre. This will help me discuss with the Bindwel team in Bengaluru about the right combination of tech-features and binding capabilities that can enhance value for the book fraternity."