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Off to a whimpering start,Book Fair ends with a bang

Making up for lost time,people from the National Capital Region swarmed in large numbers on the last day of the Delhi Book Fair. It was a day of frenetic action,jostling,buying and bargaining.

Making up for lost time,people from the National Capital Region swarmed in large numbers on the last day of the Delhi Book Fair. It was a day of frenetic action,jostling,buying and bargaining.

Shakti Malik,director of the Delhi Book Fair,confirmed there were 3.5 to 4 lakh visitors and nearly 7 lakh book titles were sold — making this the biggest book fair in its 15-year history.

After a sluggish opening day,the number of visitors at the nine-day fair steadily increased. The organisers were helped by word-of-mouth and — Jaswant Singh. Malik admitted that the first day media frenzy around the expelled BJP leader helped draw a lot of attention. “Even our inauguration was sidelined as Jaswant Singh took away all the headlines,” said Malik. “However,our purpose was achieved.”

Ajay Mago from Om Books agreed. “We expected swine flu to reduce the turnout,but I have never seen this kind of response in 15 years,” he said.

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“In terms of footfall,conversion and buyers,this has been unprecedented.”

“Also,in a World Book Fair year,fewer people visit the Delhi Book Fair,” admitted Mago.

The final day saw prices of books falling throughout the day. Most in demand were the stalls selling books at a fixed flat rate of Rs 100 or less. As the day headed towards a close,these stalls further slashed prices to Rs 50 to clear their stock.

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Abhijit Pandey,a Delhi University student,was delighted to get his hands on hardbound classics such as War and Peace at throwaway prices. “The last day is always good for deals like this,” he said. “Even amid the frenzy,with a discerning eye,you can come back home with a satisfying haul.”

The much-hyped theme of Northeast literature this year,however,failed to register an impact. “The intentions were right,but sadly,an opportunity has been frittered away,” said Renuka Singh,a corporate professional based in Gurgaon. “I was excited by the idea,but this is an anti-climax.”

Literature in languages other than English and Hindi remained a marginal entity throughout the event. Mohd Israr,who runs a trust in Old Seelampur,had sought to add more Urdu books to the trust’s library. “I am disappointed there are hardly any books in Urdu,” he said. Only a couple of stalls,including Sahitya Akademi,stocked books in Urdu.

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The plight of Punjabi was similar: stalls devoted to the language — Punjabi Academy and Panjab University — remained deserted even on a whirlwind closing day.

First published on: 07-09-2009 at 03:56:45 am
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