Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Tale of Two Book Fairs

Even if medical books have never been part of your pleasure reads, the stall for Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers at the World Book Fair in New Delhi will make you pause. Are you back at the Auto Expo held last month? In design and quality of the stall — spacious, well-lit, proper signs, couches and chairs for the weary legs, background music, even a designer conference room — it is a far cry from the days of steel racks and tables provided by the organisers, National Book Trust (NBT) and Indian Trade Promotion Council (ITPO). The NBT stall still has them, but a look at the stall for publishers such as Rupa, Hachette, Penguin, or even niche publishers such as LexisNexis Butterworth or Osho reveal the extent to which the publishers are going to lure the traipsing customer. At Rs 42,500 a stall — and most of the larger ones take multiple ones, Hachette for example has taken 20 — this is quite an expense to be recovered in a nine-day fair.

Cut to the Kolkata Book Fair, now in its 34th year, and the contrast is telling. Barring a few of the 600-odd stalls at the new venue since last year, the cramped Milon Mela grounds, there’s been no attempt to dress it up. The fair was thrown open on January 27 when many of the stalls hadn’t even finished laying out the books and power supply was intermittent, leading to a blackout on January 30 when thousands of book-lovers were inside the premises. There was no back-up, no generator or emergency lights, no exigency plan in place in case of a stampede

Full report here Financial Express

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