Delhi

A bookstore on wheels

The initiative Walking Book Fairs was started in 2014 to help spread the word about reading and its importance

For two days, a modified truck has been parked on a service lane parallel to Aurobindo Marg in the city with a small table and a few cane chairs around it. Those whizzing past could easily mistake it for a food truck but on closer observation one realises that it is actually a mobile bookstore that has been travelling across the country promoting the now-dying habit of reading books.

The initiative Walking Book Fairs was started in 2014 by Akshaya Rautaray and Satabdi Mishra in Odisha.

They started by carrying books in a backpack and travelling around Odisha to places that have never had a bookstore.

They soon upgraded to a small van and then finally housed their bookstore in a truck before setting off for a road trip across the country.

They have travelled through villages, towns and cities parking their truck there for two or three days to encourage people to read. At villages, they were met with curiosity as many had not seen a bookstore and in towns and cities, they also attracted people as bookstores have become rare with many stores closing down.

Akshaya says, “Villages in India are getting WiFi connectivity but there are no libraries and shops selling books. How can one expect the country to progress without getting people to read? We talk about development and eradication of poverty and throw numbers around showing progress but the real wealth is measured in knowledge and without books that is not possible.” In a place like Delhi or Mumbai, we have numerous outlets of a single store but there are hardly any book shops left. Akshaya feels that the curriculum in schools and colleges are designed to make people ready to fit into a particular type of job and in the process are not creating knowledgeable citizens.

The road trip started on December 15, 2015, and has taken the fair to Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.

Track their journey through their Facebook page to see when they are back next.



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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:26:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/a-bookstore-on-wheels/article8225891.ece

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