The fair has taken a futuristic leap by selecting e-books as the thematic focus

The annual Delhi Book Fair, a nine-day engaging affair featuring discussions on proliferation of e-books and interaction with authors, apart from availability of vast number of books on divergent genres, began at Pragati Maidan here on Saturday.

The fair, which started in 1995, has taken a futuristic leap by selecting e-books as the thematic focus. This move is aimed at attracting bibliophiles, especially Generation-X, in good numbers and assimilating technology with literature. Another factor for choosing e-books as the theme was that books in physical form may not be accessible to people living in certain parts of the world, but e-books long geographical distances easily.

Three hundred publishers from China, Pakistan, United States, Germany and of course the host country are displaying books on literary giants, sports, cooking, lifestyle and academics, and books for children.

The book fair was given the go-ahead by Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna, who spoke about the significance of books in achieving global integration and building literary bridges across the socio-cultural, linguistic and religious diversities.

Books, he said, fulfil three functions — acquisition of knowledge, provide entertainment and inspiration. Describing books as the ultimate source for taking human beings to achieving universal compassion while shunning aggression, Mr. Khanna expressed happiness over the considerable growth of the Indian publishing sector and its integration with the global book market.

Appealing to the publishers to produce constructive, secular and progressive books, he expressed hope that the fair would give a fillip to international collaborations in publishing and business transactions.

Earlier, India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) chairperson-cum-managing director Rita Menon said since its inception, the book fair has evolved as a reliable indicator of the might of the printed word, while presenting a great opportunity to legions of book lovers to browse through the works of their favourite authors.

OverDrive business development manager Johanna Brington said her company, which is based in Ohio in the United States, will be selling services to retailers and libraries.

“We are connected with 18,000 libraries, which have 9,00,000 books. We have fiction, non-fiction, academic and technical books. We have not brought them to the book fair because our target is to scout for as many leading Indian publishers as possible. After a week, we will be able to tell whether Indian publishers are interested in distributing their e-books.”

This year, a two-dozen-member delegation from China is participating in the fair and publishers from the neighbouring country will be interested in negotiating translation rights with their Indian counterpart.

Brimming with optimism that translation of books will be beneficial to publishers from both countries, book fair director Shakti Malik said the Chinese publishers will strike deals with Indian publishers on individual basis this year.

“Language continues to be a barrier as we cannot speak Chinese and they are unable to speak English. Luckily, we have a Chinese interpreter, who was present last year also.”

Sheikh Mubarak Ali from Pakistan, who has been participating in the book fair for years now, has brought 250 books all the way from Lahore this year. His books disseminate the message of Islam, literature and history.

“All the books have been recently brought out. It is always a pleasure to participate in the Delhi Book Fair. Selling books and interacting with curious Indian readers is a wonderful experience,” he said, adding that he has also participated in New Delhi World Book Fair and other fairs organised in Agra and Hyderabad.

Keeping in mind commemoration of 100 years of Indian cinema, ITPO is also screening masterpieces adapted from the works of famous Marathi, Bengali, Malayalam and Indian English authors at Shakuntalam Convention Centre.

Apart from classics like Guide and the critically-acclaimed Parineeta, regional films made by distinguished film-makers like Ritwik Ghatak and Adoor Gopalakrishnan will also be screened during the nine-day event.

“Visitors to the book fair will not be charged a penny to watch these films,” an ITPO official said.

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