The silver jubilee book fair brought up with much fanfare and enthusiasm by the Rotary Club of Tiruchi did not elicit the response, it usually does, from Tiruchiites.

While the reasons for the soggy show are many, R.Panchanadhan, chairman of the BOOKFAIR25 vowed to continue the book fair under his Rotary Club banner. ‘I am disappointed; but not disheartened,' he says with his characteristic attitude. ‘We will come back next year and make sure that more people visit the fair,' he says.

The Rotary Club of Tiruchi launched the book fair project way back in 1986. Following the success of the fair in the initial years, it became a prestigious annual project, much to the delight of the city's populace.

The Makkal Mandram on Thillainagar Main Road became the favourite venue for book fair due to its strategic location.

The organisers' attempt to fix the Makkal Mandram as the venue for this year's event did not materialise as the venue was reserved for another event. Though the present site, Sri Vasavi Mahal on Bharathidasan Salai is situated in a busy locality close to the Railway Junction and Central Bus Stand it did not evoke a similar response as that of Makkal Mandram, which over the years, has become synonymous with the fair.

The announcement of by-election to the Tiruchi West constituency gave yet another blow to the organisers. The stipulations of model code of conduct restrained the organisers from displaying advertisement hoardings, banners, and wall posters in public places, and affected the organisers' plan of taking the book fair to a larger audience. The book fair was aimed at promoting knowledge.

Any publicity relating to community-centric programmes such as book fair should be delinked from the ambit of model code of conduct, says D. Renganathan, a former State government official.

He questions the propriety of displaying innumerable cinema and other wall posters in the nook and corner of the city and questioned the justification for banning the display of publicity materials on such useful fair.

The lack of awareness among the student community, particularly among college students is yet another reason for the diminishing response. Special posters were printed exclusively for educational institutions and sent to all colleges.

Personal contacts were also established with the heads of institutions but ‘unfortunately not many college students turned out and this is a sad development,' reckons Prof. Panchanadhan. But the publishing houses which had put up stalls are not too unhappy.

They are of the view that all those who mattered visited the fair, “I am satisfied with the response from the visitors,” says S. Rajendran of International Books.

However, not just the intelligentsia, but even the common man welcomed the fair. “At a time when the education system in the country, as felt by many, is not up to the mark, such book fairs will go a long way in filling the gap and provide motivation to the younger generation,” says Percival Fredrick, a teacher at the Campion Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School. The organisers could think of having such fairs twice a year, he adds.

For A.Sekar, headmaster of the Government Middle School, Kothirapatti in Annavasal union of Pudukottai district, this is a god send opportunity.

He is happy that lot of books that are of interest to students were on display and sold at throwaway prices.

Mir Nazeer Ahmed, a former officer of the Ordnance Factory, Tiruchi (OFT), a regular visitor for many years, says that all sections of society, in particular teachers and parents should play a key role, in making such affairs a big success on the lines of Chennai Book Fair.