Book Affair at French Pavilion, New Delhi World Book Fair
Pragati Maidan's enormity is baffling and so are the countless heads dotting every nook and corner. It's the Annual New Delhi World Book Fair, embracing the sea of humanity from various parts of country and the world. There seemed to be a continuous tryst - we lose ourselves in books and find ourselves there too. Also read a quote somewhere that Dinosaurs didn't read , now they are extinct. Coincidence? We humans don’t want to be extinct and so our affairs with books have continued since ages. The international publishing world is too keen on India as a potential market ; so many international players show interest in it. At the World Book Fair, Institut Francais India, the cultural wing of French Embassy is to be found at Hall 7 ABC. Their stall displayed various categories of latest edition books. The choice ranged from Fiction to Non Fiction, Art , Fashion, Life Style related to France, Comics and Graphic novels which interest people, Photography and Cook books and a major focus on children with some wonderful books for young readers. French Pavilion hosted a discussion Global Local: France Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair 2017. The upcoming World's largest Book Fair and France being guest of honor precipitated this discussion. France was collaborating with Bureau international de l'edition francaise at the New Delhi World Book Fair. Also the upcoming discussion facilitated meeting between Indian publishers, Editors and the Foreign Rights Manager from French Publishing Houses.
Dr Bertrand de Hartingh, Country Director French- Embassy of France in India, warmly welcomed all the attendees to the discussion. His opening remarks were that India and France are quite lacking in knowledge about each other which needs attention. He being aware of Indian diversity, spoke of the Publication Assistance Program where publication projects from French to all Indian languages will be supported. He also spoke of Bonjour India, a program where there will be celebration of Indian and French Intellect. Claudia Kaiser of Frankfurt Book Fair and Prashasti Rastogi from German Book Office, New Delhi spoke at the event. Prashasti spoke on how due to worldwide migration we see a migration of culture and stories happening. Publishers and writers are agent of such changes. They are instrumental in bringing varying expressions together to experience synergy. The aim is to understand market trends in publishing with special reference to France, Germany and India. Exchange of Literature in various languages is key to cultural exchange.Claudia very deftly spoke about publishing trends in Germany aided by lots of statistics. She spoke of a downward trend in publishing in various categories but Non Fiction and children’s books registered a rise. Online sales too saw a 6% increase.
Jean-Guy Boin , Director - French International office of Publishing, too presented some data about French market. He spoke of increasing book prices globally which aren't synonymous of inflation. The statistics spoke of a decline in publishing but it’s not that bad.
Another highlight was the presence of the French publishers Jean-Francois Richez (Larousse) a name known for bilingual dictionaries, Kate Mascaro another publisher (Flammarion) which is 250 years old, So Taniuchi (Bayard Presse) they deal in magazines, Etienne Bonnin (Editions Glenat BD) who publish wonderful travel books owing largely to their picturesque location near the Alps mountains.
It was a wonderful insight into French publishing industry when the world is more drawn towards each other owing to market pull and cultural exchanges. This was followed by another interesting discussion by an equally interesting panel of Indian publishers and editors. Aditi Maheshwari from Vani Prakashan spoke on how much India has to offer in terms of diversity. India is a data deficit country but could make through internal data mechanism that publishing is recording a growth of 16% which is impressive. Vani Prakashan's sales are routed through online and offline channels. Online and audio books is a fairly new area where a lot needs to be done.
Vani stands for ताकि शब्द गवाही देते रहें taaki shabd gawahi dete rahein Let words be witness
Priti Gill, Editor with Zubaan, Kali for Women and now a book agent beautifully spoke on how she is aiding women in publishing their writings. Her efforts have seen publishing female writers from North Eastern states which aren't in mainstream, owing to the political unrest. The writings from the area are in nascent stages. She also spoke of an anthology of female detective writers coming up.
Sreedhar another panellist spoke brilliantly on the monopoly of English language in Indian writings where somehow the soul of Indian writing is missing. Indigenous writings take a back seat.
The session saw wonderful interaction between the audience and panellists. The globe is eager to bridge the gap and reach out to each other. Nicholas Idier from Institut francais India, French Book Office profusely thanked everyone. Last but not the least, there’s nothing like a lifelong affair with books.