Book lovers might be in for some dissapointment at the Delhi Book Fair this year that began here today, thanks to the violence that ensued following the conviction of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim yesterday.
Book lovers might be in for some disappointment at the Delhi Book Fair this year that began here today, thanks to the violence that ensued following the conviction of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim yesterday. The 23rd edition of the fair appears to have all the makings of a failed show with chirpings of “scanty footfall” owing to people avoiding getting caught in the violence. Ruchi, a regular visitor to book fairs, turned up at the venue sans company because her friends could not risk travelling all the way from Gurgaon. “Many of my friends were not allowed to come here. Since I am putting up in Karol Bagh, I didn’t face much restriction from my parents. “Of course I am happy that I could make it, but visiting a book fair with friends and coming all alone…you know the difference, right?,” said the 23-year-old, who managed to lay her hands on a copy of one of her favourite P G Wodehouse classics for as cheap as Rs 150. The book-fair is going to be a “lose-lose situation” for both publishers and vistors, claims Saurabh from Nanda book service. “Our weekend business will surely take a hit because of what played out on the roads of Delhi and Gurgaon yesterday.
“Government has imposed section 144 in so many areas, so definitely we are not expecting many people to turn up in the coming days,” said Saurabh, who has been participating in the fair for over a decade now. Many book stall owners at the venue also expressed concern over how things would pan out after the Dera chief’s quantum of punishment is announced on August 28. “I am not worried about today. But, yes I feel the situation will worsen after the sentencing will be decided,” said a publisher, on condition of anonymity. However, Rakesh Renu from Publication Division (a media unit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) seemed optimistic.
“No one saw this coming. Yesterday’s events will certainly affect the count of people coming to the fair, but we are hopeful that there will be a respectable footfall this year too,” said Renu. On being asked if the popularity and gargantuan size of the World Book Fair hosted earlier this year stole this fair’s thunder, Renu said irrespective of the number of fairs, there such events must be hosted to encourage reading habits among people.
“One cannot and should not compare it with the World Book Fair which is way large for obvious reasons,” he said. The Publication Divison today released over 10 books catering to readers of different genres. However, Jaico publishing house is not very hopeful of making even a decent business, which is why perhaps all leading publishing houses decided to give the fair a miss.
According to H P Yadav of Jaico, this might be their last presence at the Delhi book fair if they didn’t get the expected response. “You can see it for yourself there is no big publisher coming for this book fair anymore. And the reason is two book fairs in a short span of six months. “People here are not willing to come for book fairs that frequently,” said a dejected Yadav. The organisers also showed dampened spirits with ITPO desks yet to provide the handouts for exhibitors list and programme schedule of the nine day long event.