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The need for having more and more book fairs in India
Many good things came out from various discussions during the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan in the national capital. Among others, voices were raised to draw the attention of all concerned during the round-table conference, titled 'CEO Speak - a Forum for Publishing', organised in partnership with National Book Trust and FICCI as a collateral event of the book fair, which began on February 4th.

Major Highlights

- Many captains from publishing industry got an opportunity to exchange ideas and sharing of business (book trade related issues) and concerns such as according industry status for publishing industry, implementation of National Book Promotion Policy, other related issues as well as digital media.

- Publishing industry bigwigs opine the need for having more such book fairs in various parts of the India to reach out to the “marginalised” and “hinterland readers” as well as harness “untapped potential of language media”.

- Having only one large book fair in Delhi is not enough. According to Ravi Deecee, CEO, D.C. Books, who is heading one of the country’s largest retail chain, “What we need is more fairs focusing on regional languages like Malayalam, Punjabi, Bengali and other eastern tongues. Reaching out to those readers is a win-win situation both for the publishers as well as for the languages in dire need of attention.”

- Senior Vice President of FICCI, Sidharth Birla commented, “We hereby urge the government to accord industry status to the publishing industry and also hope the National Book Promotion Policy will be eventually implemented, benefiting both the industry as well as the readers.”

- Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State, HRD, in his brief keynote address, commented that the Indian publishing industry has certainly improved over the years.

- One delegate offered valuable comment: “We are not an industry in India. And, then we have pulp books available through piracy in the streets and now free illegal downloads through the Internet are hampering our growth.  We need anti-piracy awareness programme in the schools to curb the menace.”

- Other important issues that were touched upon include issues of book piracy, online piracy, corruption, need for library movements at the Panchayati Raj level, loss of bibliographic heritage too found mention at the three-hour-long discussion.

- One important point that was raised was that the current low library budgets, standing at around 2% of the GDP, are acting like bottlenecks in reaching out to readers at rural level.

-  Out of 250 billion strong global publishing industry, India hardly constitutes 2 million.

- FICCI informs India is the only country where books are published in more than 20 languages with approximately 90,000 titles published each year.

Based on the above, the following points could be considered for implementation by the concerned quarters to the extent possible, after debating the issue.

- Good quality libraries open for general public are very few in number, and they are found only in select cities and metros. Therefore, there is an urgent need for having more and more good quality libraries in many parts of the country, including rural areas.

- Parents should be encouraged to encourage their children to cultivate the habit of reading books during holidays or at weekends. Even parents can plan to offer some good pocket money to their children if they finish reading some good books numbering more than 100 pages within two or three days – such incentives will go a long way in making positive contributions to reading habits amongst the children across the country. If more and more children start reading books/fictions and novels, then automatically, holding books fairs will become more successful in different parts of the country.

- Parents should also encourage children to take membership in various libraries. Such measures will certainly help in enhancing book readership public in India.

- It would be nice if a parent begins planning for a child’s future say like the parent believes that his child is going to live for 80-90 years and therefore during this entire period the child from the beginning must be taught to spend a good amount of his time in enhancing his knowledge base. This can be achieved only by reading more and more books on different subjects. By enhancing the knowledge base of a child, parents can look forward to giving a good all around career growth to the child when he grows up, and all this can be achieved only by cultivating reading habit.

- If India has to compete on a global level, then according industry status to publishing houses should become a priority. Such a move will enormously help all those who are directly and indirectly associated with the press/media/books and so on.

Let’s hope that the government does everything, based on the above, to ensure that common man spends more and more time in reading various subject matters through books and other similar avenues so that he spends time in a nice way during his total life span.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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