With over Rs 4.5 crores in sales and 4 lakh visitors, 20th Northeast Book Fair breaks all past records
GUWAHATI: There is a new ray of hope for book sellers, writers, publishers and bookworms of the northeast and Assam, in particular. The recently-concluded 20th Northeast Book Fair is a harbinger of good news for the people of northeast. Never before such enthusiasm was seen for regional books in the two decades since its inception.
The book fair had a record-breaking total sale of over Rs 4.5 crores in the twelve days which indicates a very clear, positive vibe for the regional publishing industry and also for the book lovers. Though we live in a digital world that is fast eating our reading time, the book fair proved that this winter, the public of northeast is getting ready to buy books and read them as well.
Books by regional writers went flying off the shelves. The business for Assamese books was very good this time and English and Hindi books, too, fared well. Many of the Assamese books had new editions this time and some popular books were back in game. Moreover, the books were abundantly available which drew a lot of book lovers to the fair. The wide cherished collection, which otherwise would have been difficult to buy on a single day was easily available for the lovers this time. The Assam Engineering Institute ground resembled almost a mini Kumbh for book enthusiasts.
“There were a total of 172 book sellers and publishers who shared 276 stalls. One of the Sundays witnessed over 50 thousand people that by itself is a record for the event. Total footfall was over 4 lakh people – everyone was happy. Entry tickets were priced nominally at Rs 10 and as per our calculation over 1 lakh tickets were sold. Also, for students, it was free as no entry fee was charged,” said Ajit Kumar Barman, President, All Assam Publishers and Book Sellers Association.
The icing on the cake was Zubeen Garg celebrating his 46th birthday at the book fair. The Assamese icon cut his birthday cake and released his poetry book 'Zubeenor Podyo'. Zubeen also released the poster of his upcoming movie Kanchenjunga.
Book fairs always cater to the requirements of the children and this one was no different. Like every year, this year, too, various competitions were organised during the twelve days. Art competition, poetry recitation, story-telling were some of the programmes children participated in great numbers. The day of the children was inaugurated by eminent children author Padma Shri Eli Ahmed. Also, in one of the programmes, Vinita Jain of Kaun Banega Crorepati fame was felicitated along with Mr. Universe Golap Rabha.
Overwhelming response for Assamese books
It is to be noted that the identity tug of war due to the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) finds solace in the sale of regional publications and writers from the northeast. There was an overwhelming response from the general public this time, especially for books in Assamese literature.
“This book fair was about the new generation. The new Assamese is trying to explore the world of Assamese literature and books indicating that the Assamese literature is here to stay and for us, it is good news. In fact it is getting stronger by today’s youth. The trend shows that the new generation is attracted towards serious books on social philosophy written by good authors. They want to know what ails our state and are looking beyond political promises to understand the new Assamese identity,” said eminent journalist Adip Kumar Phukan, during the closing ceremony.
One important trend that got highlighted in the local media was that books written by authors like Parag Kumar Das, Hiren Gohain, Mrinal Talukdar, Jitendra Kumar Choudhury were very popular in the fair this time and there was a very good response. Books like ‘Sanglat Fenla’, ‘Nisiddha Kalam Aru Anyanya’, ‘Swadhin Oxomor Arthaniti’ by Parag Das which deal with the militant organisation ULFA sold in good numbers. So did other books by popular Assamese writers.
"Organising a book fair is not about profits. We are trying to spread awareness about education and have managed to attract the Assamese youth towards the books. We need a national level library in Assam and the government should think about it,” said Ajit Kumar Barman.
“The 20th North East Book Fair broke all previous records this time in terms of sales and footfall. The false notion that Assamese people don't read books has been broken this time. The future of Assamese literature and books looks very much safe if we see the enthusiasm this time,” said one of the organisers.