Nine days of carnival for book lovers began in New Delhi on Saturday as nearly 270 publishers unveiled their offerings at the Delhi Book Fair.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit inaugurated the fair at Pragati Maidan in style as she spoke about the growing reading culture in India.
Eminent Urdu poet and Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar, chief guest for the inaugural function, waxed eloquent on the power of books and creativity in moulding sensibilities of people.
Organised jointly by the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) and India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), the 12th Delhi Book Fair has foreign buyers from four countries — Britain, Mauritius, Malaysia and Uganda — participating for the first time.
Affirming deep civilisational ties with India, Iran has showcased its history, culture and literature at an impressive stall in Hall no. 8 of Pragati Maidan.
Pakistan, Germany and Mauritius are also participating in the fair.
Online booksellers like a1books.com and Google, participating for the first time in the fair, are a big draw with many visitors trying to understand the brave new world of digital publishing.
"I want to provide an online market for publishers in India. I am excited about the growing hunger for books in India," Shinu Gupta, chairman and CEO of a1books, told IANS.
It is not just buying and selling that will dominate the show.
The organisers have tried to instil some intellectual and literary excitement through a string of seminars, conferences, book launches and a poetry reading competition.
"We are also planning a children's painting workshop to encourage the creativity of kids," Delhi Book Fair director Shakti Mallik said.
For bibliophiles and purveyors of the intellectual marketplace, the fair promises to be a veritable paradise with books on just about every subject under the sun ranging from kitschy pulp fiction to the Bhagavad Gita displayed in nearly 600 stalls at the fair.