With book fair postponed, publishers seek govt. support

‘Govt. is yet to release the amount for books purchased in the last two years’

January 03, 2022 02:01 am | Updated 02:01 am IST - CHENNAI

The Tamil Nadu Government’s decision to postpone the Chennai book fair in the wake of the increase in COVID-19 cases has dashed the hopes of book publishers and sellers, who are eager to make up for the losses they incurred in the last two years.

“But we cannot blame the government. Publishers are in dire straits as we could not organise book fair in the last two years. Now they have invested more money and are ready with more titles. But the pandemic has come in the way of capitalising their efforts,” said Olivannan, CEO of the Emerald Publishers. He said 70% of those who would set up stalls in the book fair were small publishers and it was the annual book fair, besides the library orders, that sustained their trade.

Nagarajan of Bharathi Puthakalayam said publishers were in a financial crisis as the government was yet to release the amount for books purchased from them in the last two years.

“Of course, it was purchased when the AIADMK was in power. But the responsibility lies with the State Government. It will ease the burden on publishers if the government releases the amount,” he said.

Even though there is a possibility of organising the fair after the infection rate comes down, the publishers feel January is the ideal month for the event. It is normally held at a stretch of eight days. Public holidays in the month coupled with an ideal climate in Chennai always attract book lovers to Chennai. “We have decided to bring a total of 120 titles, and 90 titles have been printed and are ready for sale. Another 30 are being printed. We also have to pay for the printers,” Mr. Nagarajan said.

Mr. Olivannan said the government should at least buy books from the publishers who would participate in the book fair. Kannan Sundaram of the Kalachuvadu said it was an unfortunate situation and nobody could be blamed for it. “Even those who manage the stalls can catch the virus as it is spreading fast. The government can certainly help as the organisers had already begun work for the fair and spent money,” he said.

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