A Day at World Book Fair

Ever since the World Book Fair 2013 began in Delhi, I was itching to land in Pragati Maidan to see my favourite books and authors lined up in the neat stalls, waiting to be read and admired.

And, finally on 8 Feb, Friday, I was able to visit the much coveted book fair, organized by National Book Trust.

The first thing that struck me was the hordes of people, who were present there in the early afternoon of a week day. All the apprehensions about Delhiites being reluctant lit enthusiasts vanished at the sight of groups of young boys and girls, families with little toddlers and elderly uncles and aunts, merrily poring through hordes of books, comics and novels.

Almost every publisher of repute-Penguin, Harper Collins, Sahitya Akademi, NBT and Rupa were there. And, at the same time, small publishers like Surya Prakashan, Vagdevi, were rubbing shoulders with Manoj Pocket books and Diamond Comics.

But, what surprised me even more was the Hindi language hall, wherein all the bestsellers of modern novelists – Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi, Paulo Coelho as well as those of classic stalwarts like Tagore, Tolstoy were present in the translated form, giving tough competition to Mahadevi, Nirala and Harivansh Rai. Truly, the love of books transcend all barriers!

Though, the new books were available at a discounted practice, the biggest hit were Bargain Books available at just Rs. 100! Graphic novels were another major attraction, with classics like Moby Dick and Alice being converted into colorful picture books a la comics. Though, I think these were a little overpriced at 170 to 250.

There were a few book readings as well. And, Ashok Chakradhar was also present at one of the Hindi book stalls, cracking jokes and sharing sweets in his affable style.

As this year’s theme was Indigenous and tribal folktales, an entire Hall was devoted to the paintings and photos of various tribes of India. And, an artist was giving live performance of his drawing skills.

Another interesting facet was the Book Art, where books and papers were arranged in beautiful shapes and structures, creating impressive patterns.

I had an exhilarating experience during those short four hours, spent roaming in an endless world of words and wisdom. And, more than anything else, I was impressed with the variety on display. Even Vedas and Puranas were present in different avatars, ranging from the expensive, full texts to the pocket friendly abridged Hindi versions. Lots of learning material and phonic tools were displayed for kids, while CSR and MBD targeted the competitive budding professionals with their guidebooks. The modern age eBooks and e readers were there as well to enamor the tech savvy generation.

In short, there was something for everyone in the Book Fair, and I could actually feel the festive flavor invigorating the young and old alike. An awesome experience and a lasting impression was made om my mind by a smiling old seller at Vedic Pustak Stall, selling Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s Saryarth Prakash for just Rs. 20! Her simple mission of distributing the inspiring words to every home instead of earning any profits, left me speechless!

Last, but not the least, I bought Godan by Premchand, Dreamcatcher by Stephen King and Satyarth Prakash for just Rs. 175. Hopefully would read and review them pretty soon. Needless to say, I am eagerly waiting for the next World Book Fair!

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