Hall 14 at the World Book Fair, Pragati Maidan is a neat introduction to the art of negotiation. The pavilion that houses the children’s books is full on Sunday as children and their guardians hop from book store to publisher looking for an even bargain. But the learning curve is clear as 10-year-old Venu negotiates with his mother to let him take four second hand Harry Potter books for the price of two new Percy Jackson books. The atmosphere in the closed hall is robust, parents are excited too.
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Venu’s mother confesses that they do not go to book stores often but they do come to the World Book Fair annually. At another counter, we find a father, clearly a lover of mystery, asking nobody in particular, “What about Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes?”
The opening on Saturday was a slow start to the book fair, but attendance picked up by Sunday. At the stall by Booksthread, Anshuman Agarwal is making his debut at the World Book Fair but he’s no stranger to book fairs.
In the business for more than 10 years, he says, “Our business model is such that we participate in book fairs in smaller towns and cities in the north and we do online sales, but essentially we have seen the law of diminishing returns happening at book fairs.
We had heard from our publisher friends and other friends that there is a lot of footfall at the World Book Fair and sales are really good, and we took this plunge to see what the hullabaloo is all about and if it will translate into business.”
Hemant Kumar of Madan Book Collection from Pitam Pura is at the book fair for the third year in a row, but he is under no delusion of making money. “There is no benefit in coming here, we only do it for the publicity. Our prices are reasonable and our collection is large” he says. The second-hand range at Madan Book Collection is exciting, Riya Puri, 27, is pleased with her day at the fair.
She came to find old copies of Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, “I read the book when I was in college and am a bonafide fan of the series and of Tolkien’s universe, but I wanted old copies of the book. The ones that I find now come with Elijah Wood on the cover, the old covers are much more beautiful,” she says, holding out a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring printed in February 1987 by Ballantine Books.
Devansh Tiwari, 11, identifies Geronimo Stilton, a mouse who works as a journalist for the Rodent Gazette in New Mouse City, Mouse Island. Stilton’s popularity is evident, as children line up to take a picture next to cut-outs that are placed at strategic corners.
Shantanu Duttagupta, Head of Marketing for Scholastic India, says, “ Reading isn’t only to learn, but is a pleasurable activity and the children’s demographic is critical. Parents, schools, and the community are key players to drive this point home. And a shared experience like the book fair is one way to spark a bond between parents and children”.
The World Book Fair will be on at Pragati Maidan till January 15 from 11 am to 8 pm.
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