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In London, it’s India unbound

books Updated: Sep 22, 2008 20:31 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
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So it’ll be India in London at one of the world’s biggest trade events for publishers and booksellers. The London Book Fair 2009 has, for the first time, India as its ‘market focus’. It is a great opportunity for Indian publishing to get international exposure as well as expand its trade.

Emma House, in charge of the fair’s ‘international development’, who was in Delhi earlier this month, said market focus is designed to put the spotlight on business opportunities in one specific region. “We’re hoping to showcase a lot of younger, independent publishers, regional language writers and smaller publishers,” she says.

Ray McLellan, head of a major distributor of Indian books in Britain hopes that the fair will fast-track the aspiration of Indian publishers for exporting their publications worldwide. “The exposure Indian publishers will receive next April will be unprecedented, and a chance to greatly increase trade and public access to Indian authors, scholars, and others in the field of knowledge.”

House also informed that the key target segment of the fair would be the service providers for outsourcing. “There is a growing market for outsourcing publishing, printing, graphics and technical aspects to India,” she added.

The 38th London Book Fair in April 2008, with 28 Indian publishers participating, had the Arab world as the Market Focus, bringing exposure to lesser- known publishers and books from that part of the globe. It drew over 25,000 visitors and was covered by 1,000 journalists from the world over.

“It was hugely successful. But the Arab world is in a different stage in its life cycle. The event this year was more about introducing Western publishers to Arab publishers,” says House. “But for India, we’re going to go much beyond introducing the publishers. We hope to expand the linguistic and cultural diversity of Indian publishing.”

Books from India include scientific, technical and medical publishing in which the country is said to be the strongest. But the biggest Indian publishing area in Britain in terms of sales is spiritual development. Yoga, meditation and self-improvement are the books the Western reader wants from India.

Out of the top 30 titles selling in Britain this year at McLellan’s distribution agency, 16 were in the religion and New Age categories. Another nine were educational or academic in content.