Despite digital & e-books Guwahati enjoys Northeast Book Fair
GUWAHATI: It seems love for books has always been in trend. Though the ongoing digital onslaught on print has restricted readers to web and e-books, book lovers across ages and different strata of society have braved their way to Northeast Book Fair currently being held at Chandmari in the city.
“Books in print will continue to overcome obstacles till the existence of mankind. Books are immortal. They cannot die,” Sahitya Akademi award winning writer Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi told G Plus.
“The book printing industry is among the top 10 largest industries in the world. This fact itself proves that book printing is still in the trend. Books are seen published every day. New books would not have been published if books had ceased to be in demand. The literacy rate is gradually on the rise across the world and in the same way good novelists and poets continue to be in the limelight in the modern day society,” Thongchi said.
“Earlier writing was troublesome affair. Writers have to send their works to the editors of newspapers then the editor analyze the work and gauge the quality before publishing. Then if the work gets published, book publishers publish the writer’s works. Time has changed now as a respective writer can publish their own work. In some instances it is seen publishing houses taking money from writers to publish their work,” he said.
“However one doesn’t need a publisher to write on Facebook and other social media platform. Quality literature is also seen on those platforms being written with a flow. It is also evident that the young who are seen engrossed in smart phones like to read content on print compared to other platforms,” Dorji added.
Bhargav lives in the Panjabari area of the city. He was among the thousand youths that thronged book fair on Monday evening. He was seen with his friend making rounds of the stalls searching for his favourite.
“This time I have bought a copy of ‘Julu’ by Ranju Hazarika among others. Like all book lovers, I too wait eagerly for the book fairs in the city every year. I believe that books continue to be in trend despite the onslaught of digital platforms. There has been an increase in demand of books in printed forms; that is the reason book fairs are held every year,” Bhargav said.
“There are numerous digital platforms where books are available at cheap prices. Those platforms are tiring to eyes and soul often. I think a smart phone cannot be a viable medium to study. Taking a book in the hand and turning the pages makes one engrossed in it. That is a different feel, which only a book lover can only understand,” Kaustav from Kalapahar said while going through books at the Penguin book stall.
The Northeast Book Fair is being held under the aegis of All Assam Publishers and Book Sellers Association (AAPBSA). It is a 12-day affair. AAPBSA general secretary, Dhiraj Goswami, told G Plus that around 80,000 book lovers have thronged Northeast Book Fair till the 6th day. Goswami also informed that books worth of Rs. 60 lakhs have been sold till that day.
Around 172 publishers are taking part in the book fair from across the country including the locals, according to the association members.
Works in regional language have few takers!
The organizers of Kolkata Book Fair, Publishers and Booksellers Guild (PBG) are also taking part in the ongoing Northeast Book Fair. PBG have been taking part in the fair since its inception and in fact they collaborated with the organizers of Northeast Book Fair to hold the fair’s first edition. PBG is of the opinion that works in regional languages have few takers.
“Literary works in English is more preferred than regional works. Moreover, in comparison to earlier days people read less let alone buy books. It is obvious that sale of books in Bengali language is comparatively higher in Kolkata than Assam. We have few takers in Northeast Book Fair,” Debasis Lahiri of PBG told G Plus.
Madina Publishers and Aninda Publishers have come all the way from Dhaka to make their debut in the Northeast Book Fair and their first time has been somewhat sluggish.
“This is the first time that we have come to Guwahati. Throughout the year we take part in 13-14 book fairs in the country. Sale is not good here. If our expenses don’t meet we have to reconsider our decision next time. We have good books like ‘Deshbibhag’ by Ahmed Rafi, ‘Bangabondhu’ by Seikh Mazibur Rahman etc. The organizers told us that we would make decent money as this side has potential readers and buyers; we are hoping for the best over the rest of the days. The daily expenses include food, lodging and transportation exceed the profits from selling the books,” the salesman at the counter of Medina Publishers said.
“It is seen in recent times that there is less recognition of Assamese writers and poets, it is also a factor attributing less creation in Assamese language. It is rather stupid to write for winning prizes and laurels. Compliments in form of awards and prizes will follow genuine works,” said Dr Dhrubajyoti Bora, former president of Asom Sahitya Sabha.
‘Moi Akou Jonom Lom’ by Yeshe Dorji Thongshi, ‘Pahoribo Nuwarilu Ji’ by Nilamoni Phukan, ‘Jonakar Pokhi Ure’ by Nilim Akash Kashyap, ‘Ghoristobdho’ by Pankaj Kumar Dutta, ‘Sirodin Akhomia’ by Mayur Bora, ‘Jibonor Xarangkho’ by Devakanta Handique, ‘Amrita’ by Fanindra Kumar Debo Choudhuri are among the best sellers this year.
Children urged to dwell more on books
“Inculcate a reading habit from a young age. This would help you in future. Reading would help you to connect the dots towards healthy and wealthy living. Of course there are distractions in the name of social media platforms but reading books can also be a joyful time pass,” renowned writer Sumanta Chaliha said while addressing children at Children Book Festival held under the aegis of Publication Board Assam (PBA) at Sraddhanjali Kanan.
“I don’t think almost everything is available on the internet. Children book festivals and fairs are necessary to guide our children to a correct path. We are the guardians of the children of our state and we should be available to them whenever necessary,” PBA Secretary, Promod Kalita told G Plus.
“It is quite difficult to inculcate a habit in children from a young age. If they like some now they would like other things later. They don’t have patience after all. Not all children like to read books,” a guardian said.
“Book Fair organizers and stakeholders should also try to initiate measures to develop other tribal languages along with the Assamese language. Every school should have a class dedicated to book reading like an example set by Asom Jatiya Vidayala. We are even thinking of setting up a quality library in the city and mobile libraries in villages,” Chief Advisor of All Assam Students Union (AASU), Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya, said.