The eighth edition of The Bangalore Book Festival, offering over a million titles to booklovers, kicked off here on Friday.

The 10-day festival, playing host to books in a number of languages, is one of the biggest festivals in India after Delhi and Kolkata.

Some 360 stalls representing leading publishers from across the world, of which over 200 are English, 50 Kannada and over 60 regional, have been set up.

This time, the organisers have arranged programmes such as book-reading sessions and poetry evenings for visitors.

Kannada stalls

“Over 50 stalls are dedicated to Kannada, which will encourage Kannada authors and publishers,” Kannada Book Authority president Siddalingaiah said.

The books range from popular fiction to children's books, to those on spirituality, religion, yoga, design, architecture, cookery, reference books, encyclopaedias and so on.

Also on sale are stationery items such as pencils, pens and folders.

“We've taken all steps to make it a big success. This festival will become a model for other States,” said Balram Sadhwani, president, Bangalore Book Publishers' Association (BBPA).

‘Best friend'

Inaugurating the exhibition, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister S. Suresh Kumar said: “Books are an individual's best friend.” While the Minister was going around the exhibition, this reporter asked which one he would like to buy. “Individual's Institution and Procession by Arun Shourie is a must-read and an excellent book for any activist, and 1984 by George Orwell.”

“We're expecting a trade of over Rs. 15 crore compared to last year's over Rs. 10 crore. We have tied up with many educational institutions and libraries to promote bulk sales,” said programme director B.S. Raghuram.

Some grouses

While there were enthusiastic buyers at the venue, some said the exhibition could have been better organised as there were very few exits and no guide or manual to help the buyers locate books they were looking for in particular.

The book festival is open between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the Palace Grounds, Gayatri Vihar. While the entry fee is Rs. 20 for the public, it is free for school and college students on production of their ID card.

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