THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Running the eye longingly past rows of books, getting the hands dusty by flipping through dozens of them, breathing in the distinctive smell of fresh paper, unabashedly sneaking a quick read of the favourite author’s latest bestseller, sighing at the price tags, smiling at the thought of discounts…it is hard to miss the tell-tale signs of a book lover. Things are no different at the ongoing 6th International Book Fair and Culture Fest of the DC books at the Chandrasekharan Nair stadium.
With over 10 lakh titles from over 300 publishing houses on offer, book lovers are truly spoilt for choice at the 12- day DC Fair. As is the case with other book fairs organised in the capital city, works of fiction are selling more than non-fiction titles. Fans of Aravind Adiga can note with satisfaction that all copies of the ‘White Tiger’ have been sold out. The ‘Sea of Poppies’ by Amitav Ghosh and ‘Three Mistakes in My Life’ by Chetan Bhagat are, however, closing in on the ‘Tiger’s’ trail.
Stalls featuring self-help books are experiencing a rush of buyers, said Tomy Antony, the Regional Manger (South) of DC Books. “A lot of families have visited the fair. We have a good collection of children’s books with prices ranging from Rs.50 to Rs.1,000. There are bedtime tales, fairy tales, children’s encyclopaedias and other reference books,” he said.
Look for CDs
The fair has stalls selling educational CDs. There are 7-CD packs on grammar, math and science, CDs on personality development, etiquette, space science, astronomy. One stall exclusively sells CDs that are all about teaching yourselves computers.
An entire floor of the exhibition has been set aside for books on education; here there are books on IT, on engineering and medicine and on various aspects of management. Word wizards would have a tough time choosing from among the array of dictionaries.
The Fair features some ‘heavy weight’ books also. In the SAGE Publications stall, for instance, one can blow Rs.50,000 on a three-volume set on comparative political science edited by Alan S. Zuckerman. If on a ‘bullish’ mood, one can have a go at the Clinical Brain Atlas brought out by Thieme publications; this costs a mite over Rs.1 lakh.
Lure of melody
Not that die-hard book lovers would want it, but the Fair also offers visitors a chance to take a break from buying books and get into a melodious mood. On the first floor of the exhibition there are stalls featuring a wide array of music CDs. The latest collection of Kunnakudi, albums of Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pandit Pannalal Ghosh, gazal collections of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Wadali Brothers vie for attention with albums of Sufi songs. And yes, there is a 5-CD pack titled ‘Pasand Meri Geet Sangeeth’ containing songs that Lata Mangeshkar enjoys listening to. These CDs are a musical journey from Saigal to Sonu Nigam and cost Rs.1,000.
In the Malayalam section of the Fair — about 20 per cent of titles in the Fair are in Malayalam—the book that has sold the most (22 copies) is ‘Khazakkinte Ithihasam’ by O.V. Vijayan. The English-English-Malayalam dictionary has done even better by selling 42 copies. Stories of Basheer and Padmarajan too are holding their own.
The 47 stalls and two pavilions at the fair are ringing the cash registers for DC Books. According to Mr. Antony the fifth International Fair — an 11-day affair — last year did sales exceeding Rs.1 crore. “From the look of it, we will cross that figure this year” Mr. Antony beamed.