JBM Posts

Jaipur BookMark — “Where books mean business!”

Jaipur BookMark is a critical component of Jaipur Literature Festival . The tag line for JBM is “where books mean business”. It is certainly one of the largest literary festivals organised globally and has developed a brand identity that is synonymous with fascinating conversations and emergence of new ideas. It is inevitable that Jaipur BookMark was established as an independent B2B platform while being closely aligned to Jaipur Literature Festival. It makes perfect sense to capitalise upon this fantastic congregation of publishing professionals at the literature festival enabling a cross pollination of experiences and perhaps new synergies developing. It is also attaining critical significance in the global publishing calendar for Jaipur BookMark is held approximately four months after the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the mecca of rights sales. Shifting the base from Europe to Asia, to a significant book market such as India, enables publishing professionals to review their conversations of Frankfurt as well as explore new ideas before buckling down for the next few months and working on their lists.

So far there have been six editions of Jaipur BookMark consisting of more or less the same format. It is a mix of panel discussions, business panels and focused group discussions. There are plenty of networking opportunities worked into the programming. For instance, the event begins on the eve of the main literature festival enabling participants to have key conversations without any distractions on the business of publishing. There are plenty of coffee breaks and a longish lunch enabling conversations to happen unhurriedly. The weather is good. The winter sun is perfect. There is a crispness in the air that is welcome. The impeccable hospitality arrangements enable speakers and participants to mingle, sit at various tables and chat leisurely. Emphasising these aspects of the interactions is as important as the business angle of the conclave. As Jeremy Trevathan, Publisher, Macmillan says “From the evidence before me in Jaipur the Indian book publishing scene is obviously developing rapidly and the JBM was a perfect snapshot of the diverse challenges and exciting opportunities this affords. Whether it was a panel on diverse retail models or the commercial health of conglomerate publishing versus independents the discussion was lively, engaged and, yes, thrilling. “

The Jaipur BookMark management ensures that there is a crackling good mix of professionals. The impressive 2019 edition had:

  • 130+ speakers
  • Delegations from 20 countries: Australia, USA, Canada, France, Nepal, Lithuania, Paraguay, Switzerland, Tunisia, Argentina, UK, Ireland, Norway, Germany, UAE, Egypt, Pakistan, India, amongst others.
  • 23+ sessions over 4 days
  • 17 panel discussions
  • 7 business-focus and 3 translation-focus sessions
  • 24 languages represented
  • 11 international languages
  • 50+ international delegates
  • 3 major industry prizes announced of which two were focussed on translations. These were the Romain Rolland Prize by the French Book Office, the Vani Foundation and the Oxford Bookstore Book Cover Prize.

In fact the keynote address for the 2019 edition was given by Juergen Boos, President and CEO, Frankfurt Book Fair on “Freedom to publish“. He referred to JBM and JLF as “confluence of cultures” and after expressing his concern about the growing threats on freedom of speech and expression around the world, he urged those publishers present in the audience who “As discoverers and disseminators of ideas and free thought, we, as a community, have a greater responsibility to uphold freedom of expression. At the same time, we cannot withhold our criticism of its misuse.”

All the discussions are fascinating. On the third day of the 2019 business conclave, Friday 25 Jan 2019, I moderated a session on “Indies vs Giants”. The scope of the discussion was: “Independent publishers with lower overheads are finding their niche position in the publishing industry around the world, even as publishing giants are consolidating their positions. This session talks about creative risk taking and the tools brave, new publishers adopt.” The panellists were publishers Vera Michalski-Hoffman (Libella group), Karthika VK ( Westland/Amazon), Jeremy Trevathan (Macmillan), and Anna Solding (Midnight Sun Publishing). Vera Michalski-Hoffman also delivered the keynote address. Born in Basel, Switzerland, in a family with Swiss, Russian and Austrian roots, Vera Michalski-Hoffmann spent her childhood in France, studied in Spain and has a degree in Political Science from the Graduate institute of International Studies in Geneva. She established a foundation named after her late husband, The Jan Michalski Foundation for Literature and Writing to actively support literary activities in different countries. She is now the publisher of the Libella group that comprises the following imprints: In France: Buchet/Chastel, Phébus, Le temps apprivoisé, les Cahiers dessinés, Libretto. In Switzerland: Noir sur Blanc, with a new line called Notabilia, Editions Favre. And in Poland: Oficyna Literacka Noir sur Blanc. She also acquired The Polish Bookshop in Paris.  Her keynote address was a fascinating account of the emergence of the Libella group and its publishing history, including some of its A&M. Jaipur BookMark offers such opportunities that are to be treasured.

The panel discussions are varied and interesting such as this one on children’s literature: “Writing for Children, Writing as Children”. The panelists included Anoushka Sabnis, Maja Lunde, Paro Anand and Rohini Chowdhury in conversation with Manisha Chaudhry.

JBM has various components such as platforms to present unpublished manuscripts iWrite where book deals can be signed. It is a platform where authors have been known to find literary agents too.

The Jaipur BookMark 2020 edition promises to be equally, if not more, exciting for while it offers many spaces for established professionals to meet, it also enables new and emerging authors to participate.

Registerations for Jaipur BookMark are open now. Follow this link.

Key dates:

Jaipur BookMark: 22ND – 25TH JANUARY, 2020

Jaipur Literature Festival: 23 – 27 JANUARY 2020

The list of confirmed speakers for JBM 2020 are:

  1. Aanchal Malhotra
  2. Aditi Maheshwari Goyal
  3. AJ Thomas 
  4. Alan G. Thomas
  5. Anisur Rahman
  6. Anushree Rathore
  7. Arsen Kashkashian
  8. Arunava Sinha
  9. Aspen Walker
  10. Atiya Zaidi
  11. Chandra Prakash Deval
  12. Chandrahas Choudhury
  13. Chris Agee
  14. Deepa Agarwal
  15. Devangana Dash
  16. Jamie Andrews
  17. Jaspreet Bindra
  18. Jayapriya Vasudevan
  19. Jeff Deutsch
  20. Jessica Alice
  21. Jo Lendle
  22. Krishnendu Ray
  23. Madhur Jaffrey
  24. Malashri Lal
  25. Manisha Chaudhry
  26. Michael Dwyer
  27. Mindy Gill
  28. Naveen Choudhary
  29. Naveen Kishore 
  30. Oscar Pujol
  31. Payal Arora
  32. Preeti Gill
  33. Raghav Chandra
  34. Ranjit Hoskote
  35. Ravi Deecee
  36. Richa Jha
  37. Rick Simonson
  38. Rohini Chowdhury
  39. Shuchi Saraswat
  40. Simon Westcott 
  41. Sridhar Balan 
  42. Sunny Singh
  43. Urvashi Butalia
  44. Vaishali Mathur 
  45. Vani Tripathi Tikoo

Go for it all aspiring authors and established publishing professionals. You will not regret attending this business mixer. It is utterly brilliant!

25 Nov 2019

Juergen Boos, President/CEO, Frankfurt Book Fair/ Frankfurter Buchmesse, on “Freedom to Publish”, 23 Jan 2019, Jaipur Bookmark

Juergen Boos, President/CEO, Frankfurt Book Fair/ Frankfurter Buchmesse, delivered the inaugural speech at the Jaipur Bookmark. It is the business conclave that is inaugurated the day before Jaipur Literature Festival and then runs parallel with the litfest. It is an exciting B2B space for publishing professionals to network. Juergen Boos’s speech is published here with his kind permission.

******

Juergen Boos, 23 Jan 2019, Diggi Palace, Jaipur

Dear Namita Gokhale,  

Dear William Dalrymple,  

Dear Sanjoy K. Roy,  

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Thank you very much for the invitation to speak here today. The Jaipur Literature Festival is a festival of cultures, language, ideas and literature, and I feel very privileged to have the chance over the next few days to listen to so many Indian authors and personalities from around the world and to converse with them.

At this confluence of cultures, I’m pleased to address the friends from the trade at Jaipur Bookmark today. 

After all, that is the fundamental principle of any literature festival: creating an environment for interactions that promote the free exchange of ideas and opinions.

The free exchange of ideas and opinions – never has that been easier than today, in the 21st century.

And never has it been so threatened.

Over the past 20 years, communications technology has taken an evolutionary leap, one that surpasses anything the most far-sighted science-fiction writers of the 19th and 20th centuries could have imagined.

In Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey” from the year 1968, Dr Heywood Floyd, an astronaut, has a “videophone call” with his daughter while at the space station.

Fifty years later, in the summer of 2018, the German astronaut Alexander Gerst used his mobile phone to take fascinating photos of his time at the International Space Station, images which were transmitted around the world.

Videophones, computer tablets, artificial intelligence, voice control – many of the things that Kubrick envisaged 50 years ago have become reality.

According to the 2018 Global Digital Report,[1] of the four billion people around the world who have access to the Internet, more than three billion use social media every month.  Nine out of ten users log on to their chosen platforms using mobile devices.

The number of people who use the most popular platforms in their respective country has grown over the last 12 months by almost one million new users each day.

What I find remarkable here is that not only has communications technology made a quantum leap, the devices that allow the world’s population to participate in the global conversation have also become so inexpensive that almost everyone can afford one.

That is giving rise to a previously unknown participatory process, one that has the power to change democracy’s traditional ground rules: 

Everyone today is in a position to publish whatever they want – using blogs, podcasts and self-publishing platforms, as well as traditional publishing houses. News is transmitted around the globe in the fraction of a second, and social networks allow us to reach more readers and viewers than ever before.

In just a minute I will talk about the challenges and consequences that are resulting for the publishing industry.

First, however, let’s look at the darker side of these developments:

In the 21st century, a few select businesses have become private superpowers. They can do more than most countries to promote or prevent a free exchange of opinions.

Via social networks, phenomena like the viral spread of fake news, hate speech and slander now have a global impact. 

Professional trolls strategically destabilise political discourse online, fuelling populist, nationalist and anti-democratic tendencies throughout Europe and around the globe.

One observes that, here in India, free speech is facing a threat sprouting from religious motivations, political biases and social judgments. Attempts in the recent past to silence journalists, writers, film-makers and publishers reflect the rise of identity politics and apathy on the part of the state. Two journalists of international repute – Gauri Lankesh and Shujaat Bukhari – were shot dead within a span of nine months. Publisher friends like DC Books, Kalachuvadu Publications and their authors have witnessed attacks by fanatics who may have never even read the books in question.

When I look at the hysteria, hatred and hostility that characterise the discussion in social media, the permanent state of turmoil that societies around the world find themselves in, then I begin to doubt whether we are actually capable of using the communications technologies whose development we are so proud of.

To paraphrase Goethe: “The spirits I called / I now cannot rule”.

In social media, language is used as a destructive weapon day in and day out, and it’s become clear how disastrous this can be for those individuals targeted by the bullying. It can even lead to murder.   

In his 2016 book Free Speech, which you undoubtedly know, the British historian Timothy Garton Ash examines the question of how free speech should take place.

He asks which social, journalistic, educational, artistic and other possibilities can be realised to ensure that free speech proves beneficial by facilitating creative provocation without destroying lives and dividing societies.[2]

He comes to the conclusion that the less we want to have laid out by law, the more we have to do ourselves.

After all, Ash explains, there is no law that can draw a line between freedom and anarchy – every individual must look within before expressing himself or herself and must take responsible decisions.

I would like to talk with you about this “how” in the coming days and hear your opinions.

Personally, I feel that the participatory process I mentioned before requires us – our industry, but also each of us as individuals – to take a stance. Expressing an opinion of this type was long reserved for politicians or the media. Today, in the 21st century, we all have the possibility of making our voices heard.

And we should not do that in keeping with the motto “overnewsed but uninformed,” but in a carefully considered manner.

I believe that this permanent state of turmoil is troubling, this hysteria which does not stop at speech, but which now increasingly leads to violence.

Personally, I’m alarmed at how the language we use is becoming increasingly coarse and, following from that, the way we interact with each other.  

The problem about this state of turmoil is that it usually results in the exclusion of others and, consequently, causes even deeper trenches to be dug.   

Yet how can we deal with the challenges of our time – and find solutions to them – if not in dialogue with each other?

That leads to the question: what responsibility do publishers bear, does our industry bear, today, in the post-Gutenberg era?

How can publishing houses and their products remain relevant in an age in which fake news can be disseminated faster than well-researched books?

In which rumours, supposition and conjecture are more quickly viewed, liked and shared than texts capable of explaining complex contexts?

As my friends Kristenn Einarsson and José Borghino have pointed out on many occasions, “If we are to create and maintain free, healthy societies, then publishers must have the will and the ability to challenge established thinking, preserve the history of our cultures, and make room for new knowledge, critical opposition and challenging artistic expression”.[3]

Publishers in the 21st century are in a privileged position: the industry looks back on a long tradition, on the one hand, and has built a reputation. Publishers are gatekeepers – they filter and assess content, they curate before they publish.

They consider it part of their job to publish content that is well-researched, documented, checked and carefully assembled as way of contributing to the range of opinions present in society.

On the other hand, they now have the possibility of reaching their readers through various channels, offering their expertise, their content and their opinion exactly where their target group is found.

Publishers and authors in many parts of the world risk their lives by writing or bringing out books that criticise regimes, uncover injustices and shed light on political failures.

On 15 November 2018, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, Arundhati Roy wrote the following in a letter to the Bangladeshi writer, photographer and human rights activist Shahidul Alam: “How your work, your photographs and your words, has, over decades, inscribed a vivid map of humankind in our part of the world – its pain, its joy, its violence, its sorrow and desolation, its stupidity, its cruelty, its sheer, crazy complicatedness – onto our consciousness. Your work is lit up, made luminous, as much by love as it is by a probing, questioning anger born of witnessing at first hand the things that you have witnessed. Those who have imprisoned you have not remotely understood what it is that you do. We can only hope, for their sake, that someday they will.”[4]

As you know, Shahidul Alam was taken into custody in July of last year after he criticised the government of Bangladesh in an interview with Al Jazeera and in various Facebook posts.[5] Fortunately he has since been freed, but the charges against him remain.

Without wanting to turn these very personal remarks by Arundhati Roy into a generalisation, I would just like to say that she has put it in a nutshell when she writes that, through their work, writers, authors, journalists and artists draw a vivid map of humankind in our part of the world.

Journalists and other authors write despite intimidation and threats. Like Shahidul Alam, they are driven by a mixture of love and anger. For that, they deserve our highest esteem and respect.

Writers and journalists are being intimidated and forced into silence all around the world because of their political and social engagement, something we condemn in the strongest possible terms.  

As discoverers and disseminators of ideas and free thought, we, as a community, have a greater responsibility to uphold freedom of expression. At the same time, we cannot withhold our criticism of its misuse.

I hope to have the chance to speak with many of you about these issues in the coming days.

Thank you.


[1] https://wearesocial.com/de/blog/2018/01/global-digital-report-2018

[2] (Kapitel Ideale, Seite 123)

[3] Zitiert in Nitasha Devasar: Publishers on Publishing – Inside India’s Book Business

[4] https://pen-international.org/news/arundhati-roy-writes-to-shahidul-alam-day-of-the-imprisoned-writer-2018

[5] https://pen-international.org/news/shahidul-alam-writes-to-arundhati-roy

13 February 2019