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Indian publishing in focus at London Book Fair

books Updated: Jan 22, 2009 12:52 IST

IANS
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The Indian publishing industry will be the focus of the 2009 London Book Fair this April, with 40 Indian writers being invited to the event, and Amartya Sen being the keynote speaker at the opening.

The Indian writers - mostly big names in English and vernacular writing - will showcase the diversity of literary and linguistic genres across the country, said representatives of the British Council India and the London Book Fair at a literary workshop at the Neemrana Fort Palace in Rajasthan Tuesday.

A special India pavilion will be set up jointly by the Book Fair authority and a forum of Indian publishers, CAPEXIL.

The names of the participating writers will be announced mid-February.

A delegation of 40 publishers from the country will also attend the fair to market their wares and acquaint themselves with the publishing laws in Britain, which are different from India.

"The London Book Fair will host 10 India-specific seminars and have four literary cafes, where one Indian writer, billed as the 'author of the day', will speak about his work," Kate Arthurs, arts consultant of the British Council's literature department in London, told IANS.

"Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen will be the keynote speaker at the Chairman's Breakfast, the opening event," she added.

The British Council has been entrusted with the task of preparing the Indian publishing fraternity for the event, promote awareness about the London Book Fair, and create a shared India-British literature pool through a series of workshops, seminars and related public events in both countries with partner organisations like Wales Arts International.

The special British Council initiative in India for the London Book Fair, named "India 09 Through Fresh Eyes", will be vigorously promoted at the Jan 21-25 Jaipur Literature Festival through interactive sessions.

Debanjan Chakrabarti, head of the British Council's Inter-Cultural Dialogue Project in India, said this market focus initiative was part of the ongoing British Council-India intercultural dialogue.

"We have been working closely with publishers in India to gear them for the London Book Fair. Last November, we organised a three-day workshop in Delhi, where representatives from the British market spoke to their Indian counterparts on ways to expand the potential of vernacular Indian publishing market to target the larger audience, including the mammoth diaspora segment in Britain," said Chakrabarti.

According to him, the market and reading trends in Britian were still dictated by the public library system and offered an opportunity for Indian publishers to make inroads.

According to global statistics, the total annual turnover of all the components in the Indian printing industry was more than Rs.50,000 crore (Rs.500 billion).

Indian books, journals and printed products are being exported to over 120 countries of the world - both developed and developing. Indian exports of books, printed pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, job printing and printed materials during 2004-05 was estimated to be worth $550 million.

Quoting the Chamber of Indian Industry (CII) and Statistical Online India figures, Chakraberti said the publishing industry, one of the biggest in the world, was growing at the rate of 15 percent. Of this, one-third was English language publishing.