Light Up, Virtually – The New Indian Express

Express press service

CHENNAI: Every January, the annual Chennai Book Fair – considered the second largest in the country – draws over a million book lovers to the sprawling YMCA Park in Nandanam.

Major publishing houses (regional and English) across the country are counting on this lucrative opportunity to expand their loyal clientele and make business profits. However, their ambitious plans for this year have once again been disrupted by the virus.

Finding themselves at this COVID-induced crossroads, a few fellowship members have joined hands to endure this third wave with a vigorous pursuit to keep the publishing industry afloat. It is with this promise, and the offer of 5,000 titles from more than 25 publishers, that Le Salon du Livre Virtuel was launched on January 14 to bring the publisher-reader community closer together.

“By far, book fairs have been the best place for publishers and readers to understand each other. We wanted to provide a platform that connects everyone under one roof and VBF is one of those initiatives. That’s why we say we are not in competition with any organization, rather we are an extension of their efforts,” says Karthikeyan Pugalendi of Sixth Sense Publications, one of the founding members.

After a year of writing drafts, revisions and brainstorming, the website is now available for a global audience. “Publishers with a proper website and able to process payments would have already realized the potential of going digital. Some are even adept at using social media to sell their products, without a website. But the majority of We publishers rely heavily on e-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart, who have frozen their inventory except for essentials, to sell their books.Instead of finding a quick fix to our problems , the publishing industry needs to build something tangible using our collective customer bases,” he stresses.

While the idea is to provide a one-stop solution for publishers by presenting a virtual storefront that emulates the vibe of a book fair, the ultimate goal is to build a national sales network without losing each publisher’s individuality. .

“There will be a set of customizations that can be done by each publisher on their storefront – putting up banners, changing the display (for now 2D) like in a physical book fair and the like. The site will have built-in features that provide space for reviews and literary activities with social media plugins. We have received good responses from users,” shares Karthikeyan.

Building a sustainable model

Breaking away from conventional pricing has not been easy for traditional publishers, but the team hopes the numbers will eventually increase given their meticulous approach to creating a suitable subscription model to encourage more sellers and publishers. . In addition, customers can also pay attention to interesting offers.

“Next-gen sponsors for book fairs are looking for numbers and prefer data-driven insights. Personally, I have also seen the benefits of a digital presence, at international book fairs. A dedicated team works 24 hours on 24 to monitor literary activities. If we also have an effective team, then we can take our books around the world to different festivals,” he notes.

Reviews, reviews and reader discussions also find equal space on the website. “Like any e-commerce portal, we aim to create a sustainable delivery chain across India. We are also asking book fairs to allocate a booth to VBF so that we can monitor digital activities. at the end of April, we are looking to have over 20,000 titles and 70% of the publishers on board with whom we can host our first literary festival.We are awaiting the official launch of the site by the Information and Public Relations Department on January 26th. We wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be our main source of income in the years to come,” he shares.

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Future Features

VBF is also building a unique app-based content management system so people without soft copies of books, packaging images, or the catalog in Excel can grab it all from their mobile. Many such features and plans should be running shortly. It’s the only place where publishers can stay united and offer their entire catalog to book lovers.

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