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India’s love for Literature again stands tall with New Delhi World Book Fair 2012

New Delhi World Book Fair 2012: 25th February - 4th March 2012, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India

Few things know no barrier, and Literature is definitely a top notch among them. Irrespective of the country or the geographical territory, love for quality Literature is common everywhere, and thereby, a particular Literature isn’t slated to be confined in one particular area. Literature is a born global citizen, but still, the appreciation for noteworthy Literature, again irrespective of the geographical boundaries, gets a warmer reception in India when compared with others. A country with the ability to praise all level of Literature richness, India is the place for celebrating Literature. A number of Literature Festivals and Book Fairs do take place all over the country throughout the year, but the staging of New Delhi World Book Fair 2012 is definitely the one that takes a different stance altogether. Held biennially at the Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, this fair is an excellent platform for the World Literature showcasing, and is organized by the National Book Trust, India known as NBT. NBT is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Secondary & Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, and is a professional body working towards the promotion of books and the habit of reading in the country. The major activities of the Trust include publishing, promotion of books and reading, promotion of Indian books abroad, assistance to authors and publishers, and promotion of children’s Literature. The New Delhi World Book Fair which is one of the largest book fair in the world attracts thousands of exhibitors both from India and abroad. The 20th World Book Fair was held from 25th Feb to 4th Mar 2012 in capital city of India New Delhi at Pragati Maidan. The theme of the 20th World Book Fair was “POINT-OF-VIEW, An International Rights Exhibition of Books on Indian Cinema towards Hundred Years of Indian Cinema”, as Indian Cinema is going to complete its 100 years in 2013. A few books based on Indian cinema were also released on the occasion. Moreover, a catalogue including 300 titles representing publications of 800 publishers in all major languages based on Indian Cinema has been released by NBT. The catalogue contains information about copyright and contact details for right enquires that will help the publishers around the world to get the information about the rights to publish or translate any of the books based on Indian Cinema. The World Book Fair prime motto is to provide a valuable edge between Authors, Publishers, Booksellers and Reader, and the 20th edition, needless to say, stood high on its reputation.

While it was a great opportunity for people to delve into Literature and books of all kinds from 25 February to 4 March, it happened to be also a great opportunity for the publishers and book dealers to further their business. Believed to be the biggest fair in all Afro-Asian countries, this time, the New Delhi World Book Fair 2012 had the arrangement so elaborate that twenty six countries had participated in the fair, showcasing their Literature and Books. Spain, Malaysia, UK and Germany besides all the SAARC countries, were few names among others. Apart from books, this time the Book Fair had also brought in different attractions for the public. There were events for every booklover, and children in particularly were benefited in terms of the newly set up children’s pavilion, where quizzes and reading sessions were conducted to retain the interest among kids about book reading. Bengalis living in Delhi had extra reasons to show interest in this fair, after knowing that on the eve of 150 Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, they are organising a Rabindranath Tagore pavilion with his works. Cultural Programme was a new addition to the book fair this time and was conducted in Lal Chowk theatre in association with the Sahitya Kala Parishad.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development proposed to make the biennial New Delhi World Book Fair an annual feature. Inaugurating the 20th edition of the Fair at Pragati Maidan on Saturday, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said the ministry is ready to provide the financial assistance needed to make this happen. The Minister said the government would try to host the Fair every year given its increasing popularity and growing status as one of the most important book-related events in the Afro-Asian region. “The New Delhi World Book Fair has emerged as the biggest Book Fair in the Afro-Asian region, and I feel that the National Book Trust should now make it an annual affair as they have the capability” said by Mr. Sibal. Saying the popularity of Book Fairs is a sign of a vibrant democracy and free society. “Our mission is not just an inclusive society, but an inclusive learning society. I would want every child in the country to have an Aakash, and access information free of cost”, added by Mr. Sibal. Mr. Sibal also released an International Rights Catalogue on Indian Cinema and three books in Braille titled ‘Cinema of Satyajit Ray’, ‘Balraj My Friend’ and ‘Dada Saheb Phalke’. The Book Fair, apart from hosting the largest number of Indian publication houses ever, has the largest number of international participants, four pavilions, and more than 140 related events, making this the biggest Fair in the country to date. Noted historian and chairman of the NBT and the organizer of the fair, Bipan Chandra agreed with Sibal’s proposal, and confirmed that NBT is ready to fund the annual event. However, he also pointed that the trust is facing a resource crunch and looking forward to more sanctions in the 12th Five Year Plan, he added. “NBT at present doesn't have adequate manpower to manage such an event annually”. The first day of the fair saw people browsing through books exhibited at about 2,500 stalls of more than 1,300 exhibitors. Theme pavilion on Indian Cinema and the children's pavilion emerged as the favourites.

Taking forward their trend of offering theme-based international rights exhibition, the Fair, this time, has a right exhibition on Indian Cinema. The exhibition was on course to find a connect with the points-of-view that the world of Books and that of Cinema present to the reader as well as the audience who may be, many a time, one and the same. On behalf of the organizers, it was a sustained effort to find a connect between the popular culture and the book culture. Books published in English and all Indian languages in their original language edition on Indian cinema, actors, actresses, directors, producers, music composers, lyricists and the vast array of unknown personalities who have enriched this powerful medium would form a part of this show. “A rights catalogue would also be produced for the books displayed during the show and these catalogues would also be available as priced editions”, added Kumar Vikram, editor, NBT and Project-In-Charge of the Theme. Besides, the show had well-defined categories of exhibits – Children, Science & Technology, Hindi & languages - to name a few. Also, there would be regular features like book launches, seminars, meet the author events, and special pavilions dedicated to children and youth etc. Moreover, a catalogue including 300 titles representing publications of 800 publishers in all major languages based on Indian cinema has been released by NBT. The catalogue contains information about copyright and contact details for right enquires that will help the publishers around the world to get the information about the rights to publish or translate any of the books based on Indian Cinema.

Audio Book was an interesting inclusion in this Book Fair. Audio books, that are pegged at USD 7 billion global is still in its infancy in India and has been estimated to grow, are easily downloadable on Mobile Phones, MP3 players, Ipad, Iphone, Android and other tablet devices, making it a convenient experience for hi-tech book-lovers. Audio versions of about hundred fiction and non-fiction books have been featured as part of the ongoing World Book Fair 2012 by Audio Book brand Reado. From "Peter Pan" to "Jungle Book" and subjects ranging from waistline reduction to confidence boosting, there is much to choose for "book-listeners". The 100 titles available range from children stories, popular contemporary fiction and classics, to health, self-help and books on business. Reado's CEO & Co-Founder Sumit Suneja says the idea to bring these audio books came from the growing need to cater to that section of society which is moving in the fast lane and has very little time to read books. In order to convert the books into audio formats, Reado has partnered with several publishing houses including Penguin, Hachette, Harvard Business Review and Brilliance. The Audio Books are available at prices ranging between Rs 299 and Rs 599. Just like in any newly launched products, this new book variety attracted appreciations and criticisms simultaneously. While some welcomed this new effort as a boosting dose for reading habits, which is facing a stiff challenge now-a-days, while some disagreed that just listening the Book narration won’t help the learning process, especially the grammars. Nevertheless, this new venture of Books had its healthy share of visitor’s attraction.

The Fair wasn’t left by Anna Magic, and a special pavilion, set up by Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF) has exhibited books, CDs and DVDs related to Anna Hazare, a Photo Book having series of photographs related to India Against Corruption (IAC) movement and newly launched IAC card. In this special pavilion, IAC volunteers were busy in highlighting the details of benefits of forming the Discussion Forum (Anna Charcha Samooh) in every municipal ward in cities and in every village to start up a two-way direct communication between Jan Lokpal movement and the People of India. Interestingly, this move by IAC was hugely greeted by the visitors, and the footfall at the IAC stall kept thronging. The IAC card, available at Rs 20 each, provides the mobile number registration of the cardholder, so that each step and the latest updates of the Anti Corruption Movement are communicated by sms. Another interesting event at the Fair was the seminar about the E-Publishing, jointly organized by W3C India and Federation of Indian Publishers with SPH Consultancy & eServices Pvt. Ltd. The E-Publishing Seminar - is split in two half days of deliberations to offer a better understanding of the interest arising topics like How e-publishing technologies and market developments will create opportunities for Book Publishers and Printers, how Authors can benefit by new approaches in ePublishing of Self-Publishing and On Demand Publishing. How the Publishing ecosystem can offer ePublishing on Mobile devices including Tablets, Reading Devices and Smartphones., How Publishers and Authors could use e-Distribution Mechanisms to monetise their Book inventory, Content Discovery in the Age of Tablets, E-readers and Google, so as to introduce the new concepts, tools and technologies and developments in the digital publishing space.

At the closing ceremony, National Book Trust director M. A. Sikandar launched a new website of the National Book Trust that is also the organizer of the Fair. Several film and theatre personalities like Javed Akhtar, Farooq Sheikh, Amol Palekar, Anupam Kher, Satish Kaushik, Sushma Seth, Muzaffar Ali and Shahbaz Khan participated in various panel discussions and literary events held at the theme pavilion. At a Film Festival at the pavilion called 'Literature that walks, talks and sings', many classics such as Devdas, Pather Panchali, Umrao Jaan, Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda among others, were screened. Moreover, several cultural programmes were organized by Sahitya Kala Parishad at Lal Chowk in evening. There were performances by folk dancers from Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra. Characterized with the Fair specific gestures like interactive kiosks had been set up at various spots in the halls to provide information regarding publishers, souvenir shops selling coffee-mugs, T-shirts and caps that had quotations and dialogues from famous books printed on them, this Fair left a long lasting impression on the Book lovers, and promised a bigger and better Literature celebration in the future.

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