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30th Jamshedpur Book Fair: Children’s books gain popularity

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Jamshedpur: Works of fiction made into motion pictures can certainly draw a fresh set of readers, and booksellers participating in the Jamshedpur Book Fair at Tagore Society campus swear by that.

It is not just ever-green classics like the ‘Narnia’ series or ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that move off the shelves faster than others at the fair. Books such as ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ are prominently displayed at many stalls.

Children were visibly revved up by the stalls that sell educational CDs. Baiting kids by playing animated versions of Panchantra and Thenali Raman, the sellers of children’s CDs are confident that sales would reach the peak during the exhibition.

Books on religion, cookery and self-help books, though regular features every year, guarantee good business for the publishers. Stalls of popular publishing houses and bookstores manage to pull a steady stream of visitors.

Like last year, books for children, brought out by many small-time publishers, dominate the fair. From activity to story books, the sheer array of children’s books at every stall is impressive.

But regulars such Rakesh Mohan say they find the annual fair predictable. “I have been visiting the fair for almost 10 years and noticing a change of trend every three years.

First it was Tamil classics that ruled the show, then came English fiction and now for the last two years, it is children’s literature. DVDs of Panchathantra and Tenali Rama are ubiquitous. One does not need to visit a book fair to buy them,” says the bank official.

But the scope of the book fair goes much beyond the retail business. A publisher puts it, “Book fairs are a time-tested way of introducing children to the world of books.” Pointing to the lack of adequate neighbourhood bookstores for kids, he says entrepreneurs should come up with small book stores for every 15,000 population.

Unpacking a fresh set of books, a marketing manager of a publishing house says it is the weekends that they look forward to. “You must visit on a Sunday evening to gauge the response. The crowd swelled by the hour last year. And this year, is going to be no different,” he said.

Other than ‘Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence’, publishers also offering books like ‘Last Days of British Raj’ and ‘Witness to Partition: A Memoir’ by historian B R Nanda.

The annual Jamshedpur Book Fair-2014 organised by Tagore Society is also focusing on the works of regional writers.
Bookstalls in the fair are witnessing a good sale of India Divided by Rajendra Prasad and ‘The Last Journey of Jinnah etc. Moroever books like Lajja by Taslima Nasreen are also in demand.

“The fair is a treat for the avid readers of the city. I can see love for Hindi books increasing here, and there are a good number of people going for Premchand…Madhushala by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, books of Chetan Bhagat, Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah are in great demand,” said a publisher from Lucknow.

The books on various subjects like children’s story books, cooking books, among others, which cost from Rs 25 to Rs 200, are the main attraction of the fair. Apart from this, many books are also available at a discount of 10-25 per cent.

Ashis Chowdhury, general secretary of Tagore Society, the organizers of the fair said that every year the trend is for the award winning books and on people who are in limelight and this year too is not different.

“The book fair started in 1985 with only 27 publishers and now more than 72 publishers are participating,” said Chowdhary.

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