By Somrita Ghosh
New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) The 23rd Delhi Book Fair which kicked off on Saturday (August 26) seems to be thirsting for visitors this season.
On its third day, with around 270 book and stationary stalls, the fair looked gloomy and adorned a deserted look as countable heads had turned up on Monday.
According to the publishers, factors like the recent violence caused after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim and fewer advertisements of the event by organisers are to blamed for the low turnout.
“The violence caused at Panchkula had largely affected us this time. Saturday saw very low turnout, even though there was an average turnout on Sunday, today again very low as the as the Ram Rahim verdict was scheduled,” Satyendra Singh Bisht of Pitambar Publication told IANS.
According to Praveen Mehta of Navneet Education, most of the schools remaining closed owing to the violence which lead to total absence of students.
He said: “Earlier schools would bring students, even on working days, there used to be a decent crowd. But this time schools have not participated yet. People from NCR like Gurgaon and Faridabad have not turned up yet.”
The publication houses also blamed the organisers for not promoting the event this time.
“Very cold response this time. Less publication houses have turned up. The organisers have not made any efforts to promote the event. There has been hardly any advertisement on newspapers or radio channels, even no hoardings. Consequently, people are not aware that the event is going on,” said Akhilesh Pal of Kitabghar Publication.
According to the organisers, funding is an issue that India Trade Promotion Organisation and Federation of Indian Publisher are facing, which is affecting the book fair.
“If the Delhi government extends its help, the event can grow more and become a major book fair. Though we haven’t approached the state government yet but planning to do it in near future,” said an organiser.
However, the threat of violence failed to diminish the spirit of some book lovers who still turned up.
Sunanda Luthra, a resident of Rohini who came with her son, said: “Book fairs don’t happen very frequently here and so it makes no sense to give it a miss out of scare for violence.”
Another visiter from Kirti Nagar, Sonal Malhotra, who was accompanied by her daughter Megha, said: “We both are avid readers and nothing could have stopped us from visiting a book fair.”
“I am rather happy to see less crowd, as I got the chance to roam around freely and spend sufficient time at stalls,” she said.
The publishers however are hopeful that the turnout will get better in the coming days.
“The Dera Sacha Sauda incident will calm down in the coming days and schools will also reopen. Also, if the event is promoted in newspapers, people will know. We expect that this might bring us visitors,” said Vijay Singh of Diamond Publication.
With the theme “Padhe Bharat, Badhe Bharat” (India reads, India grows), the Delhi Book Fair — organised by the ITPO in association with the the FIP — entered its 23rd edition.
This year, the fair is providing a unique platform for business-to-business transactions, establishing new contacts, entering into co-publishing arrangements, translation and copyright arrangements, and reprinting of old and rare books, apart from providing retailing opportunities.
It will also host conferences and seminars, buyer-seller meets, book releases, discussions, literary activities for children and meet-the-author events.
The Delhi Book Fair will conclude on September 3.
(Somrita can be reached at [email protected])
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