Book fest bigger, some new features

From avid book lovers to light readers, the Bangalore Book Fest is catering to all types of visitors. Children’s books seemed to be the most popular genre and almost two thirds of the books displayed are meant for junior readers.

Child at Book Festival

Navya M Gowda, all of four and a half, seemed extremely thrilled with her copy of “Clifford’s Loose Tooth” from Scholastic. Pic: Deepti Sarma.

The festival has been on full swing at Palace Grounds, from November 6th when it was inaugurated by Rastrakavi Shivarudrappa. With over 350 stalls, the festival is slated to end on Sunday November 15th. In 2008, 10 day long fair had over 300 stalls and an estimated 500,000 visitors.

As Devaru Bhat, Secretary of Bangalore Booksellers and Publisher’s Association which has organised the fair, says, the idea of the festival is to provide a common platform for readers in the city to come and buy books of their choice. Bhat explains they have 49 more stalls this year as compared to 2008; they have been growing in size steadily year on year.

The sheer number of the books displayed was quite overwhelming. But it would have definitely helped if the display board at the entrance contained all publisher names in alphabetic orders instead of numeric order arrangement. True to Bangalore’s cosmopolitan nature there were books of many languages namely English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit etc. A splendid treat for readers, as there were books of several genres exhibited. Mainly children’s books, fiction, religion, travel, cookery, art and culture, music and so on.

The book festival at Palace Grounds is open to the public from 11 AM to 8 PM on weekdays and till 8.30 PM on weekends, November 5th to 16th. The entry fee is Rs 20.

The vast collection of books was impressive but “why are only best sellers kept in front at the stalls?” questions Varun Sharma, a visitor to the fair. He said it would help if the rare books were also kept in front for people to find them. Varun also added that genre wise organisation of the stalls in the fest would have been more useful, as most readers do not have special preference to the shops where they buy their books from. “It is about the book and not the store”, opines Varun.

Apart from the usual popular stalls such as Pearson, Wiley, Sapna Book store, Times Group, Scholastic, etc. there were some interesting and special exhibits.

Kannada pusthakagalu

A book fair in the month of Rajyotsava can be expected to have myriad collection of kannada books. 94 stalls of kannada books are showcased this year.

One such example was IBH Prakashana, a Bangalore based Kannada books web portal with more than 2500 books including literary works, children’s books, humour and poetry books.

Katha Comics was another exhibitor. They create illustrated comics based on famous Kannada novels. They also provide access to e-comics, with an annual subscription fee of Rs 1000. Sanjeev Kumar of Katha Comics feels that this approach will provide the readers a visual, movie like narration. The comic books will be available at stores soon.

Kannada Sahitya Parishat, the 94-year-old non profit organisation displayed the best of Kannada literature. It strives to promote Kannada through publishing books, organising literary seminars and promoting research projects.

Local publishing initiatives

Pratham Books, an 5-year-old* trust provides children from low income families access to quality books at affordable prices, in 11 Indian languages including English. Says Balakrishna Jha, Associate Brand Manager, “Our aim is to initiate reading habits in all children.” Most books at Pratham cost about Rs 25 or less*. Illustrations are crafted differently for different age groups and are so colourful and expressive that any child would want to pick one up. The book on Cauvery is printed on recycled paper. Pratham has planned a cartooning workshop for Children’s Day (November 14th), from 4 PM to 6 PM.

Jha explained the immense amount of effort put in for the content research of these books, because a six-year-old in a city has a different mindset than a child from a town or village. Available at the store Mother Earth on Inner Ring Road, Domlur and Crosswords, Pratham books will soon be available at Gangarams.

Book Festival 2009

Bangalore Book Festival 2009 on at Palace Grounds. Pic: Deepti Sarma

Pothi.com is a print-on-demand self publishing platform that allows individuals and organisations to publish books on their own easily. This has seen good response at the fair. Jaya jha, co-founder and Director says that the popular genres of books at pothi.com are self-help, fiction, poetry, comics and cookbooks. They have partnered (on a cost sharing basis) with independent authors to showcase the self-published work.

41 titles are on display which include those by six bangalore based authors.  “Tinku’s tooth and other stories” is story book for children up to the age of 10 and is written by R Mahesh who works for an IT company. The stories capture the imagination of little children and provide an enjoyable read.

Another Bangalore based software engineer, Vipin KM who has published short stories previously has displayed his latest book called ‘The second innings of a software engineer‘. The book is about a software engineer exchanging his thoughts with the readers in the form of a discussion.

Revathi S Kumaran has been a writer, editor and independent researcher with special interest in education. Her book ‘Children’s stories of our times’ contains fun stories of animals, people, nature and toys penned for children between 8- 12 years of age. Meghadootam, which Revathi compiled together with Yadugiri VT is a lyric by Kalidasa, one of India’s most popular ancient poets. In this book, the authors have tried to capture the spirit of the beautiful original work, especially for young readers.

Not better, not worse
Read this feedback on the book fair by Jayaprakash Sathyamurthy here.

In addition to books, the book fair was a host to many book stores and publications from other parts of the country like Delhi, Ahmedabad etc. There were special stalls dedicated to music CDs. Vision Interactive Systems’ stall has educative and interactive CDs for children between 2-10 years old.

Be it famous titles of famous authors or innovative work of new writers, it was all here under one roof. Definitely worth a visit.   ⊕

Addendum
* Updated on November 17th: removed factual errors.