The advancement in technology and modernity may take place at any extent but our traditional values do not take us away from our ancient roots. At the recently concluded New Delhi World Book Fair, book-lovers were fascinated with the scriptures written on palm leaves in several Indian languages like Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada on one hand and browsed through the digital books on the other. Screening of meaningful movies, literary events, children workshops, seminars, etc. kept the Pragati Maidan alive for all the nine days of the book fair. Here’s more on this biggest book fair in India. The 20th edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair which saw participation of over 1,300 Indian and foreign publishers was successfully held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from February 25-March 04, 2012. First held in 1972, the fair is organized after every two years by the National Book Trust (NBT) and is today the biggest book-event in the Afro-Asian region.
Though the book fair attracted huge number of book lovers across the country, the timing was such that many school children missed out to attend the fair, due to their looming school examination pressure. As Kapil Aggarwal of Hachette India puts it, “In my opinion, this time fair was dull as the dates are colliding with school annual examinations. Otherwise, it would have been much better. Still, for us it was a good show as we met with many serious buyers, who were interested in our range of books.”
“It was forty years ago in 1972, when the first New Delhi World Book Fair was held. I am delighted to know that the New Delhi World Book Fair, today, has become one of the biggest book fairs in the Afro-Asian region”, said Kapil Sibal, hon’ble minister of Human Resource Development, Govt of India, while formally declaring open the 20th New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.
Talking about the publishing scenario in the country, Sibal said that India is perhaps the only country that publishes books in forty languages and not only this, India ranks third after USA and UK for publishing books in English. He was of the opinion that despite the growth of technology and increase in use of internet, printed books will not take a back seat. In fact, they will only complement each other. “I’m looking forward for all children of India accessing any information they require through tablet ‘Akash’ without paying anything,” he added.
Prof Manoj Das, eminent author and professor of English at Sri Aurobindo International University, Pondicherry presided over the function. He felt that there should be increase in the number of translations of the books as translators introduce the world unknown to us. Prof Mridula Mukherjee of Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, was the guest of honour on the occasion. She brought into light the fact that great freedom fighters of India like Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo Ghosh, Mahatama Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, and Dr BR Ambedkar were not only voracious readers but also great intellectuals and writers. They all laid the foundation of freedom struggle through their writings. She said that National Book Trust (NBT) has been carrying forward the tradition by publishing books on these great personalities.
Prof Bipan Chandra, chairman, NBT welcomed the participants, dignitaries and guests present on the occasion. Sudhir Malhotra, president, Federation of Indian Publishers; Ramesh Mittal, chairman, CAPEXIL; Kailash Balani, president, The Federation of Publishers’ & Booksellers’ Association in India; AK Sharma, general secretary, Akhil Bhartiya Hindi Prakashak Sangh; Dr PC Bhanu, president, Association of Indian Publishers and Booksellers; Kamal Arora, president, Federation of Educational Publishers in India and Parmil Mittal, president, Delhi State Booksellers’ & Publishers’ Association were also present on the occasion. MA Sikandar, director, NBT proposed the vote of thanks.
For the benefit of the visitors, the organizers had bifurcated the display of books in eight different categories, besides five special pavilions. The categories included English books; foreign participants; books on social sciences & humanities; books on Hindi language; educational aids, CDs, games & miscellaneous; books on science & technology; books for children and educational books. The books on spirituality and religion were major hit among the visitors and so were the children books.
While, the five special pavilions included the theme pavilion, Delhi Pavilion, Rights Table, Tagore Pavilion and Children’s Pavilion.
The Theme Pavilion which commemorated the celebration of 100 years of Indian Cinema attracted a large number of book lovers as well as cine buffs. Many film and theatre personalities like Javed Akhtar, Farooq Sheikh, Amol Palekar, Satish Kaushik, Sushma Seth, Muzaffar Ali, Shahbaz Khan participated in panel discussions and other literary activities at the pavilion. NBT in association with National Film Archive of India, Pune, under the section Literature that Walks, Talks and Sings screened some of the classic, black & white and colour movies like Devdas, Pather Panchali, Umrao Jaan, Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda among others at the Theme Pavilion. On the concluding day, three movies Charulata, directed by Satyajit Ray, Uski Roti, directed by Mani Kaul and Atithi, directed by Tapan Sinha were screened.
Books on cinema were also displayed at the pavilion and many publishers had specially produced books on this subject.
The Children’s Pavilion exhibited 1,200 books in several languages and organized several activities for children. Activity based workshops ‘Kabaad Se Jugaad’ and ‘Aao Jadoo Seekhein’ were organized. A skit based on a book was presented by the Rahein Development Society. While, the new website of the National Book Trust, India was launched by MA Sikandar.
In a session ‘Bal Katha Se Cinema Tak,’ Nandita Das, chairperson, Children’s Film Society of India interacted with children. To encourage reading habit among children a play based on a book was presented by Navyug School, Laxmibai Nagar and Butterflies, an NGO in New Delhi. Later, in a mime show Swapan Kumar Sarkar and his troupe performed at the pavilion and raised the issue to save environment. Dr BK Tyagi and his team from Vigyan Prasar in an interesting programme called ‘Science and Magic’ unraveled how scientific fundamentals work behind the world of magic. The evening was enlightened with the traditional folk singing Jugni and folk dances Bhangra, Gidha, Jindua and Sammi of Punjab.
To celebrate 100 years of Delhi as the capital of India, a special Delhi pavilion was put-up in which rare paintings and photographs on Delhi were exhibited. The pavilion designed in a circular shape gave a rare glimpse of Delhi’s monuments like Red Fort, Jama Masjid, etc by known and unknown artistes of erstwhile Delhi.
To commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, a special pavilion on the great poet was dedicated at the Fair in which select books on and by Tagore as well as posters, sketches and paintings of Tagore were exhibited. The pavilion was put-up by the Sahitya Akademi.
A two-day seminar ‘Rights Table’: a forum of Indian publishers to exchange copyright of books was organized at the Rights Pavilion in which many aspects of rights, from translation to digital, from author contracts to translation grants, licenses etc were discussed. MA Sikandar remarked, “This is a new beginning for NBT as it has tried to create a platform for exchange of rights.” While Akshay Pathak, director, German Book Office, the collaborators of the programme remarked, “Although the ’Rights Table’ is a major programme within the publishing industry all over the world, the systems of the copyright exchanges in India is still not fully developed.” Among the publishers who participated in the discussion included Westland, Routledge, HarperCollins, Penguin, Tulika, Olive, Kalachuvadu, Mapin, Karadi Tales, Zubaan and Scholastic.
As customary always, during the fair, many books were also released like Bajanama by AN Sharma, Bahudha and Post 9/11 World by Balmiki Prasad Singh, NBT Catalogue in CD Format, My World Within by Kapil Sibal, minister for Human Resource Development, Govt of India, Jauhar-E-Adakaari by Latafat Hussain Kazi, Urdu Aur Bollywood by Suhail Akhtar Warsi, Bhartiya Samaj: Rashtravaad Aur Premchand by Jitendra Srivastava, Bye-Bye by Krishna Bihari, Bhupen Da: The Bard of Brahmaputra by Kamal Kataky and Devajit Bhuyan, Indira Goswami: Pain and Passion edited by Uddipana Goswami, Never Let Me Go by Sachin Garg, Aurat Ki Awaaz by Nasira Sharma, Katha Circus by Prash Manu, Kiska Hai Asmaan by Savita Bhargav,Gudia Bhittar Gudia by Maitreyi Pushpa, etc.
Readworthy Publications has a wonderful day for the book lovers, as they launched three new books in a day. The books titled Happy Days in China; A Mountain Girl; and Love Cocktail. All these books were released back-to-back by renowned personalities in the presence of Shalaj Mittal of Readworthy Publications (P) Ltd and Ramesh Kumar Mittal, vice chairman, CAPEXIL. Padma Shri Dr Shyam Singh Shashi, director general (retd), Publications Division, Government of India; Pradeep Tamta, member of parliament; and Shivgopal Mishra, general secretary, All India Railway Federation, did the honours of releasing these books. The authors and publishers praised the role of Writers Choice which facilitated the publication of these books. Happy Days in China, authored by Anuradha Shukla, is a travelogue and presents first-hand account of her experiences of Chinese life and culture. While, A Mountain Girl and Love Cocktail are novels and written by Manesh Pal ‘Mrinmay’ and Upendra Sahami, respectively. The important features of all these books is that they all are written by youngsters.
Many interesting features like interactive kiosks stationed at various spots in all the halls to facilitate visitors to get information about publishers, Hall and Stall numbers, etc and the Souvenir Shops with slogans on books inscribed on coffee-mugs, T-shirts, fridge magnets and caps were major hit among people, especially young.
To make the fair more interesting and entertaining, several cultural programmes in evening were organized by Sahitya Kala Parishad at Lal Chowk. The last day of the fair was dedicated to the folk-dances and folk-songs of Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra.
Vast stall of Star Educational Books Distributor Pvt Ltd at the fair attracted every visitor passing by. A wide display shelving all their scientific, technical and research books were on exhibits. “Though we have not introduced any new titles during the fair, our existing range is quite enough to pull a good number of our existing customers and the new ones as well,” told Ajit Singh of Star Educational Books Distributor Pvt Ltd.
“These kinds of trade shows are very important for us. We are here not for sales but for the promotion of our brand. Here, we got the opportunity to meet with several genuine buyers, who are going to give us big business even after this. In terms of general buyers, we also got good response as well,” said Apoorva Garg of Brijbasi. Similar views were shared by Bikash Niyogi of Niyogi Books who said that the show was successful for them and they received very good business proposals at the fair.
“This fair is quite a good platform to interact with who is who of the industry as well as customers,” said Virender Kumar Arya, director, AITBS Publishers, who displayed a vast range of low priced textbooks. In addition, the publishers took the fair as an unmatched opportunity to launch more than a couple of textbooks as new magnetism to their customers.
Naveen Joshi of S Chand said, “We have a great show in terms of sales since start. Students are pouring from all over to our stand to get the book of their choice. One of our Grammar Book is selling like hot cakes, we are selling several copies every day.”
“I am very happy with this edition of World Book Fair; we have increased our fair sales turnover remarkably. We offer the best children books in terms of quality and content as books are going to create the biggest impact on young developing minds,” said Ved Chawla of Dreamland Publications.
While, Lakhmi Khilani, director, Indian Institute of Sindhology rated the 20th New Delhi World Book Fair as an incredible expo worth to be participated in years to come.
While Amit Bansal of Amit Publishers & Distributors was of the view that the arrangements at the fair should have been further better, in terms of the infrastructure, etc. Similar views were echoed by Manish Rajoria of Aadarsh Pvt Ltd who said that the location of Hall 14 (Children’s pavilion) was too far for the visitors from other halls.
Even the visitors were happy with the fair. As Meeta, an avid reader puts it, “I eagerly wait for this book fair to buy books and I love the discounts which I get here.” While Himani Aggarwal, a concerned mother added, “My kids are young, so I come here to get some good educational books for them. This time I found many other interesting things like brain games and educational tools as well. I am taking good things home and feel it is good to spend money on such things.”
The show also attracts buyers from libraries. “I am a social worker and have my own library as well in a remote village of Haryana. So, I always come to this fair to update my book bank for over 20 years,” told Yash Pal Chaudhary, an octogenarian.
All in all, the book fair was a huge success – the exhibitors generated good sales and the readers appreciated the vast display of books – the wealth of knowledge.
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