The 7th Madurai Book Fair is a crowd puller

The Tamukkam ground has become a book-lovers’ paradise ever since the 7th Madurai Book Exhibition started a week back. Students, teachers, parents and children browse through various kinds of books while stall owners recommend the latest titles and favourite authors. From classics, science fiction, short stories, and novels to animated education CDs, this year’s fair offers much more than the earlier editions.

With over 212 stalls and nearly a million titles, the annual book expo enthrals a major chunk of school and college students. “Invitations have been sent to all institutions through the Chief Education Officer to create exposure and awareness among students,” says R.S. Shanmugam, President of the Bookseller’s and Publisher’s Association of South India. “Nearly 75 schools have already visited the expo. We have also invited eminent speakers to hold literary discussions on topics like Tamil Ilakkiyam. And the response from readers has grown significantly this year.”

Though every stall seems to be doing good business, the Tamil translation of Arundhati Roy’s The God Of Small Things, Chinna Vishayangalin Kadavul, and the four-part English transliteration-cum-translation of Thirukkural by Sri Shenbaga Pathipagam are among the most sought after.

Books for kids

“Children’s books have got a huge response this year and nearly 20 titles have been redone,” says S. Vairavan, Secretary of the Association. “Many authors have packaged the same old stories differently to suit the modern-day kid.”

Amar Chitra Katha has come out with a set of 300 myths, legends and stories. The entire set costs Rs. 14,250, though separate books can also be bought. Tamil Vendhan from Dove Multimedia says animated nursery rhymes and 3D stories are popular among children. “Foreign language tutorials, digital textbooks for ICSE and CBSE and DVDs with model question banks for competitive exams are other fast-moving items,” says the store manager at School Rom Multimedia.

Grolier International, a Delhi-based publisher, has opened a stall for the first time in the temple town. Introducing an in-home learning module for children of age 2 to 15, the firm has come up with Logico, a game book to enhance parental participation in developing skills in children. “We have nearly 68 volumes of 530 games that help in promoting logical thinking, brain development, hand-eye coordination, vocabulary and general knowledge among children,” says Mustaq Khan, stall manager. “Each game contains 320 cards and different levels. The whole set comes for Rs. 35,800 and we have sold eight sets so far.”

For serious readers

“Apart from best-sellers such as Ashokamitran and Muhammed Basheer, serious readers are picking issue-based books,” says Muthu, a stall owner. “Koondu, the Tamil translation of The Cage by Gordon Weiss, is one such book.” Other options for serious reading are Arundhatiyar Vazhum Varalaru by Marku or Ash Padukolai, a criticism on Dalit murders by Anbuchelvam. History lovers may check out Kavalkottam by Su. Venkatesan and Soodiya Poo Soodarka by Nanjil Naadan.

While many students rue that English books at the stalls are comparatively few, a bunch of young foreign students happily buy loads of Tamil books. “I bought a Kriya Tamil dictionary and a few other guides for literature,” says Krissy from Chicago, a Tamil student at a local college. “I find the collection on medicine and biology very interesting. I bought books on rare herbs,” says Ragasudha, a collegian.

According to many publishers, though popular genres continue to grab the attention of readers, the future is set for e-books, digital media like CDs, online apps and education software. “With textbooks being brought out as compact disks, students need not even carry books,” says Karthik Raja, who has designed tutorials to learn programming languages in Tamil. “These days, books and exam questions are available even as apps usable in android phones. Reading and learning have become easy.” The expo is on till September 9 and is open from 11 am to 9 pm. Entry is free for all.

More In: Books | Metroplus | Features