Again, National Book Fair, Kasturchand Park, Nagpur

Some 10 months ago, I had written about the National Book Fair held at Kasturchand Park, Nagpur.  I had bought 11 books—bulky 1800 pages—back then.  I read some of them, and I left a few.  And here comes back the National Book Fair again.  It’s currently being held at the same place.  It has become an integral part of my being in Nagpur and I have been visiting it consistently for 10 years now.  My patterns of reading have changed; the trends of my book-shopping have changed; what has not changed is the same enthusiasm with which I rush myself to the fair as soon as I know of it.

People enjoying going through books at National Book Fair Nagpur.  This fair has become an integral part of reading culture in Nagpur over the years.

The fair seemed a bit smaller this year; the number of stalls seemed to have decreased.  Maybe, it’s because it is being held second time this year rather than the usual once a year; or maybe, I had overheard once a shopkeeper saying “there isn’t much sale here in Nagpur; Bangalore etc. are much better.”  I’m not sure of the exact reason.  But I missed many stalls this time.  There was no stall of Sahitya Akademi, Bharatiya Jnanpeeth, or National Book Trust.  Last time, a bulk of my shopping was from the these three publishers.

I’d made some rules for myself this time.  The reasons were apparent.  Many times, I could not find time and interest to read what I buy.  Many times, mostly in case of old classics, I can get the copies from internet for free and I can have a look at them before actual buying.  I strategy was:

  • #I would not buy a nonfiction.  There are already a few half-read pending in row.
  • #I will mostly buy Marathi books, and not English as usual.  I have quite a big collection of English nonfiction and my Marathi reading has suffered quite a lot over the last few years.  I wanted it changed.
  • #Limit the quantity.  Don’t buy a book if you can get it anytime you need.  This was again especially for nonfictions.

With my self-made rules, there was a lot to explore, but very little to buy.  My shopping was not as voluminous this time, but short and sweet.  I bought only two books, two literary essay collections of Poet Grace—चर्चबेल and संध्यामग्न पुरुषाची लक्षणे.  I have already bought another collection of his essays “मितवा” last year in such another book fair.

Falun Dafa book stall at the National Book Fair.One interesting thing I noted was a book stall of “Falun Dafa.”  It is a newly founded spiritual movement in China and the Chinese Government bans it strictly.  Even a simple Google search of “Falun Dafa” can cause you internet breakdown on the Chinese land.  I had seen one of their performances at Deekshabhoomi some 4-5 years ago, but it was quite interesting to see them preaching their thoughts here.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Urdu cartoon books and child literature.Again, interestingly, I found a book stall particularly dedicated to Urdu literary books.  Over the years, I have seen here Urdu books mostly on Islamic Studies, but this time, there were a lot of cartoon books and child literature too.  It was a pleasant surprise to see titles like पुराणों की कहानियां, उडनेवाला गेंडा, आदित्य: समंदरी लडका and बंजारा लडके in Urdu.

Overall, the experience of National Book Fair this time was not that great—mostly because of the less number of book stalls—but still an enjoyable one, and with a few surprises.

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5 Responses to “Again, National Book Fair, Kasturchand Park, Nagpur”

  1. EarthDrifter Says:

    Is the fair smaller because more people are reading on smart phones and kindles? This reminds me of something slightly off topic: Wasn’t there a real cheap computer that was supposed to be coming out in India soon, for something like 1,000 Rupees? That was the talk about a year ago there. This great invention was to help bridge a huge digital divide. I wonder if it’s still in the works. Any ideas on that Ganesh?

    • Ganesh Dhamodkar Says:

      Ebooks have very little impact in India so far. Only a very little fraction of people would prefer ebooks to real books. The small size was perhaps because it was being held second time this year. The other publishers might have other priorities.

      I remember you’d written about Akash computer when you’re around Boondi, Rajasthan last year (I was the first post I’d read on your blog. I’d come searching for tag India). The tab was again in news a couple of days ago. The demand is such huge that the production is not matching it up, so there’s a waiting list. The HR Minister said they’re releasing Akash-2 soon, with a bit more price, 2200/-, but with 1 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM, and 4-hour battery backup, so they’re working on quality too. But it will still take a lot of time to make it a mass product. It’s a huge country with a huge population, you know it 🙂

      • EarthDrifter Says:

        2200 Rupees = $42. That’s amazing. Considering the amount of people that need jobs, my guess is that the company could eventually take this product to a level of mass production, and perhaps even go worldwide someday. Even though the specs are weak, it’s still an amazing step towards making the Internet available to many more people. The cost is similar to many basic cell phones.

  2. Gaurav Tiwari Says:

    You know what’s the best thing ? You live in Nagpur. Able enough to produce book fairs on occasions. In my town, no one even talks about books and book fairs. And whenever I travelled out the town, couldn’t get a chance to reach such events except once. Thus, you can say that I have attended only one book fair.
    People like me, have a separate sense of thinking about these events.

    A book fair is just a practice of selling those fictions which are either not selling properly or have been published under Publication Division. Well, agree that this is a great way to conserve and spread regional literature but who cares about them now? A non-literature graduate, my friend is an example, doesn’t even like to talk about modern Hindi literature. Books are very costly and a 200 page-long Hindi literature has a high enough price value like ₹700.

    The next is digitalization. Ebooks now dominate the rich-people, who could buy and promote paperbacks. What ever one say, reality is that Book fairs are losing their craze and the Indian government has no time to think about it. A student doesn’t want to focus beyond his syllabi, a proffesor has no love for books after he completed his study.. Only ‘aged’ scholars care about these.
    I know my thoughts are very wrong if you attended many such events , with plenty of people there and got books at cheap rates.

    • Ganesh Dhamodkar Says:

      Sorry, but I would argue against most of what you said:

      1. Firstly, people love books. Such people might be in minority, but there are people who love books; I’m one of them. It’s good that I live in Nagpur and have an opportunity to visit a book fair, but wherever might I live, I would certainly find something bookish.
      2. From the publishers’ point of view, book fair is certainly for promotion of sales, but for a reader, it is never a sale of unsold books. It’s always a place to find rarest of the rare books as a surprise.
      3. Books are not just about literature. There is a large range of nonfiction books. What is needed is the love for reading. As I already mentioned, people loving books stay always in minority, but such fares give them an opportunity to have a sense of their minority community. Prices of Indian books are quite an issue of concern, but it’s mostly because of low sale, publishers cannot produce in mass to enhance profits.
      4. E-books will always be complementary to real books. I would love to buy a book if I love it as an ebook. E-books give the reader a chance to check the book at a relatively low price, but there are some books, certainly not all, that you want to be at hand, in hard copies.
      5. I really hope you’d evolve yourself one day into an “aged” scholar!

      Take it as a frank opinion; certainly not an offense!

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