Bibliophiles can buy books on diverse subjects at discounted rates and interact with their favourite authors at the week-long New Delhi World Book Fair, which opens at Pragati Maidan here this coming Monday.
From this year, the biennial book fair becomes an annual event. It will be inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor. This year’s theme is “Indigenous Voices: Mapping India’s Folk and Tribal Literature”.
Organised by the National Book Trust, India, in collaboration with the India Trade Promotion Organisation, the fair will feature a wide assortment of books on education, general knowledge, folk and tribal literature and culture.
In consonance with the theme, exhibits of art and crafts, workshops and panel discussions will be the other highlights.
According to NBT chairman A. Sethumadhavan, NBT had participated in the Beijing International Book Fair last year and personally visited world book fairs at Sharjah and Turkey. “At every international fair there is an author’s corner. So this year, NBT will introduce this interesting concept in which 50 to 60 readers would get to sit in a secluded corner with the author.”
Admitting that a number of writers were left despondent at last year’s book fair because they could not interact with the readers, NBT director M. A. Sikandar said the reading public too was left disappointed. “So in every hall we will have a special corner. A large number of authors writing in English, Hindi and regional languages including Nandita Bose, Nilanjana Roy, Mahmood Farooqui, Upinder Singh and Nirupama Subramanian will have reading sessions of their works.”
Though there is confirmed participation by more than two dozen countries, it is still not clear whether Pakistan – whose literary works in Urdu are eagerly sought after by readers at the World Book Fair – would be participating. “NBT has despatched invitation letters to publishers from the neighbouring country. They have booked six stalls. Fourteen publishers and employees of publishing houses are expected to turn up for our event.”
Though hopeful, the NBT chairman said clearances from both countries would be required. “We have the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad. Pakistani publishers would have to get clearance from there,” he said.
Though foreign participants get all the encouragement from the NBT, the main objective of the organiser is to promote and pursue translations of Indian writings in foreign languages. “Fifty books from China came last year to India but from our country only five books travelled there. We will provide suitable incentive in the form of financial assistance to foreign publishers for translation of original Indian writings into foreign languages and vice versa.”
More than 1,000 titles published by NBT will be available at 10 per cent discount. “But if the buyer becomes our member then he can avail of 20 per cent discount on our books. Private publishers too would be offering 10 per cent discount.”