Demand for Tamil translations of international books on the rise

Birds of a certain feather whose staple diet lies within covers are expected to flock together at Vasavi Mahal the coming week. For, one of the oldest and biggest book fairs in the city, organised by the Rotary Club of Tiruchi, has rolled out the carpet for diehard and wannabe bibliophiles with a reasonably-priced eclectic fair.

The silver jubilee edition of the fair may have its share of pitfalls, but its sustained attempt in prodding Tiruchiites to pursue the written word is manifest in the heartening scenes of children coaxing parents to buy books. With more than 60 stalls, readers of vernacular literature have plenty of choices. On the other hand, English language readers cannot hope to lay their hands on the latest Booker Winner but may stumble upon attractive art and travel coffee table books, classics and budgeted imported editions apart from romance novels and the likes of Robin Sharma, Chetan Bhagat and Sidney Sheldon.

Self-improvement books are clearly the flavour of the season, with biographies, historical novels and political writings figuring in many a stall. Children's books and religious books have a following of their own and astrology, yoga, health and cooking are certified crowd pullers. An emerging trend is the demand for Tamil translations of international books, with Che Guvera rubbing shoulders with Bill Gates on racks.

For students gearing up for competitive exams, there are subsidised sample papers and NCERT, TOEFL and bank exam books. Multimedia stalls provide respite with a plethora of educational and gaming CDs catering to pre-schoolers and graduates alike. An exclusive shop featuring the best for international cinema lovers and a Delhi-based store with sophisticated reading equipment were also on hand.

Dubbing the book fair as a treasure house, retired bank manager P.Narayanasamy, says that while popular books abound those looking for intellectual fare would be disappointed. Those like M.Sivakumar are irate at the constant repetition of certain books which takes away from exclusivity “Book fairs should be about books unavailable in the city. There is not much variety.”

Though many booksellers are from Chennai, agents point out lack of publicity is the reason behind absence of many leading publishers. Many are equally miffed on the shift of venue from Makkal Mandram in Thillai Nagar to the current venue. With well-spaced out stalls, rummaging among tomes could be a pleasure save for the wobbly planks underfoot and shortage of overhead fans. Chidambaram, a publisher echoes opinion of his ilk, “For the Tiruchi book fair to match up to Coimbatore, Neyveli or Erode standards, it would require large scale publicity and organisation.” However, the unanimous verdict is that Tiruchi unlike a few other cities has a growing reading public. According to Chairman of ‘Book Fair 25', Panchanadan, organisers are left in the lurch with the ban of hoardings and other publicity materials due to the by-elections.

The ten-day book fair is on till October 2 between 10.30 a.m to 8.30 p.m on weekends and 2.30 – p.m to 8.30 p.m on weekdays. An array of events including treasure hunt on authors, inter school and collegiate competitions, talks by writers are planned to entice bibliophiles.