International Publishers at World Book Fair


New Delhi: At the ongoing World Book Fair the dominating influx of visitors at the China pavilion is evident but, what cannot be ignored is the relatively deserted state of the stalls put up by other countries. Around 30 countries are participating in the 24th edition of the Book Fair have been housed in Hall no 7 at Pragati Maidan, the venue for the Fair.

The hall contains three pavilions among which, one is completely dedicated to China that has been accorded ‘Guest of Honor’ status, the second pavilion is named ‘Cultural Heritage of India’ which witnesses live performances from artists as ‘Vividh Bharat’ is the theme of this year’s book fair. While some have been up front about China grabbing all the attention, others have attributed the negligible footfall to other reasons.

Pakistani publisher Al Hasanat Books, who primarily deals in the import and export of Islamic literature said it has been participating in the fair for the last four years and it is for the first time that their stall has been this empty.”It is because all the people are going straight away to the China pavilion that we don’t have any visitors. That is the reason,” says a representative of Al Hasanat.

Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association which has been participating in the fair for over 15 years now, is relatively restrained in accusing the guest of honour country in vacuuming the crowd. “The footfall is definitely less and we do see a lot of people heading towards the China pavilion. So, China might or might not be the reason,” says a representative.

Dharmendra Sujeebun from a Mauritius-based publishing company seconded its Sri Lankan counterpart acknowledging that the footfall not just at his stall but also at the book fair is general seems to have decreased. “I think young people are reading less books these days. Now they do everything online. That is very sad,” says Sujeebun.

The International Bureau of French Publishing from France has collaborated with Oxford store here to market its publications. While they refused comment on the contribution of China Pavillion in drawing crowds, they did not deny scanty number of visitors.

“More than anything else, I think the change of location in the hall has affected us most. Earlier we were right at the entrance, which was a very prime position as it was difficult for visitors to miss the stall,” says a representative.