In today’s digital world, people are fast breaking their relationships with books and building new ones with other, more technologically advanced media such as the television, movies, the internet and the like. Every day, with new leaps in innovative methods of communication, people leave books further behind.
This trend is very disturbing. While books retain their importance in some fields, in others they have been totally discarded. One way of combating this disaster is by holding book fairs, the most famous being in Hamburg. The Kolkata book fair is the second biggest book fair in the world after Hamburg in terms of the number of visitors.
The 35th annual Kolkata book fair is being held right now, from the 26th of January to the 6th of February 2011. The venue for this gala affair is Milan Mela, opposite Science City. It is a vibrant affair, the fields buzzing with excitement that the fair unerringly creates every year. It attracts a footfall of more than two hundred thousand visitors every day and all these people are found to be hovering around, going from stall to stall laden with packets of books in their arms.
Many kinds of people visit the fair. There are those that do not buy books, but loiter around the field, visiting shops at random. There are others who visit the fair in order to buy certain books which are available at better prices and in much greater volume at the fair. Still others visit the fair to find books that are unavailable outside the fair. Whatever their purpose, the Kolkata book fair satisfies every person that visits it.
Booksellers and publishers find different ways of attracting customers and their efforts add even more colour to the fair. Some stalls hire personnel to stand outside them and advertise the books available in their stalls. Others give their stalls strange shapes. This year, I have seen stalls that look like busses and cars and trains, like cathedrals and temples and in many enticing colours and designs engineered to draw people into them.
This year, the theme of the Kolkata Book Fair happens is USA. Every year, a country is chosen to be the theme of the fair. The theme stall in the center of the fair is shaped the Capitol to evoke the spirit of the world’s richest democracy. Inside, people can view and buy books and objects that define the United States of America.
The Book Fair is organised by a guild of publishers and booksellers. They manage the entire proceedings and deal with any problems that may arise during the fair.
An important part of the Kolkata Book Fair is the food court. It is designed to cater to the appetites of thousands of people and keep them satiated while they journey from one stall to another. The food is utterly delicious and many go to the Book Fair more for the food than books.
Visiting the Book Fair and seeing the number of people swarming about the place in search of books is a sight of sheer joy, especially if you are one of the thousand book lovers in search of something good to read. The Book Fair shows us that all hope is not lost and that books retain their importance in society even today.
For the short period of time that the Book Fair is on, our dream-world of book-induced magic seems real.