Reading habit is alive, but Bangalore Book Fair dies!

The cancellation of the much awaited event, the fortnight-long Bangalore Book Fair, this year is a reflection of the state government’s inability to understand that good reading habits are important for its denizens.

The fair at Palace Grounds was cancelled at the last-minute after the state Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) discovered a legal point on the venue in the light of the long-running battle between the heirs of the erstwhile Mysore rulers and the government on the ownership of Bangalore Palace Grounds.

The purpose of any book fair is to create awareness about book culture in the community. And organising a book fair is an effort to revive reading habits in the community. Bangalore’s book-stores are shutting down and the existing stores are not big enough to display the kind of variety that a book lover would like. Most of these do not display tomes written in regional languages. So a book fair would have made up for the lack of exposure to the books published in India and beyond.

The organizers, having sweated it out for several months now, have been left high and dry with the last-minute decision. What I understand from my discussions with the organizers is that the fair planned this year was not just to sell books but also include literary competitions for school and college students, debating and other events.

Instead of whole-heartedly allowing such community activities to take place, the CM instead agreed to allow the organizers to hold a three-day fair, something which was not acceptable to the organizers. The rule by the government not to hold any commercial activities in palace grounds is fine but there must be consideration for special activities and events such as these where in a community benefits and it is the responsibility of the government to push and promote such events. Obviously books and its promotion are the last thing on the government’s priority list.

They must understand why a book fair is important to the community. Here’s why.

  • Find books that are out of print or hard to locate.
  • Meet your favorite author to ask that burning question about a page turner you read of his or hers.
  • Become familiar with authors and different genres of works by authors.
  • Understand the publishing industry.
  • Attend work shops on writing, publishing etc
  • Learn how to become a writer by talking to trade and people from the industry at the fair.
  • Book fair can be a cultural outing as there will be more than books at the fair.

By discouraging such an event, the government has only put nail in the coffin when the art of reading is still alive.

Abraham Lincoln said “The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” This year, thanks to the government, I will not know what I want to know from an ocean of books at the fair. Neither will I have my best friend get me the book I have not read.

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