Chennai Book Fair begins

BAPASI optimistic about good turnout; 700 stalls set up

February 25, 2021 01:22 am | Updated 01:22 am IST - CHENNAI

Leafing through:  Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam at the Chennai Book Fair   on Wednesday.

Leafing through: Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam at the Chennai Book Fair on Wednesday.

The 44th edition of the Chennai Book Fair was inaugurated by Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Wednesday.

Organised at the YMCA grounds in Nandanam, about 700 stalls have been set up this year as against 800 last year.

“The numbers dwindled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But most publishers have come forward and put up stalls, which is an encouraging sign,” R.S. Shanmugam, president of the Book Sellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), told The Hindu .

He said that rent for stalls had been slashed by 20% this year considering the fact that many people could not sell their books during the lockdown.

For those who could not afford rent, space had been provided for displaying their books.

BAPASI is confident of recording good footfalls this year. “Those who love reading books will certainly come. During the pandemic, many people started reading books and this particular crowd will visit the exhibition to buy books,” Mr. Shanmugam said. A number of story books for children was available, he said. “Enquiries have been positive so far. With kids at home, the demand for activity books are increasing,” said J. Saravanan of Scholastic India.

The fair has a stall for books recommended by actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan during his Big Boss show. “Suriya’s Agaram Foundation is urging its sponsors to buy books for donating them to schools,” Mr. Shanmugam said.

Those in-charge of stalls pointed out an interesting fact that many new authors had emerged during the lockdown. “We have books by six new authors in our stall,” said the salesman at one of the shops pointing to the books displayed on a huge table.

R. Rajasekaran of Seethai Pathippagam said: “Over 30 new writers have been introduced during the lockdown. Over 105 books have come during the lockdown.”

BAPASI, which has been organising the Chennai book fair since 1976, has put up signboards across all areas requesting people to wear masks and follow physical distancing. Those at the stalls have been told to use sanitisers and wear gloves while handling books.

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