Bengal’s publishing industry has fallen victim to the ongoing cash crunch as sales, which usually peaks during winter, showing a downward slide. And if the situation doesn’t improve in the next one month, demonetisation is likely to hit the series of book fairs held in Kolkata and the districts hard.
“We are going through a very difficult period. With the exception of a few publishers, most are struggling to stay afloat as most of the trade is cash-dependent,” said Tridib Chatterjee, secretary of the Publishers and Booksellers’ Guild, which organises the mega Kolkata Book Fair.
The International Kolkata Book Fair is the biggest in the world in terms of footfalls, having recorded more than 2 million visitors this year. Sales exceeded Rs 20 crore.
The showpiece event will be held between January 25 and February 5, 2017. The fair was first organised in 1976 and has subsequently become a landmark event in the state.
While the Uttarbanga Book Fair --- the biggest in the state after the one in Kolkata ---began in Siliguri on November 25 is already feeling the pinch of cash shortage, organisers of the Burdwan Book Fair, the oldest such event in the districts, are already talking about poor returns.
“Sales have gone down. Most of the buyers are offering Rs 2,000 currency notes against purchase of books worth Rs 300 or Rs 400. It becomes difficult for booksellers to return the change. The total sales last year crossed Rs 5 crore but this year it will be a fraction of that amount,” Madhusudan Sen, associated with the Siliguri Book Fair, told HT. The fair ends on December 4.
“The number of booksellers has come down sharply since most of them fear poor sales,” said Nirupam Chowdhury, assistant general-secretary of Bardhaman Book Fair that will begin on December 2.
Sudhangshu Sekhar De, director of the Kolkata Book Fair, have advised all those participating in the event to apply for card swipe machines. “Demonetisation has also hampered preparations for the fair as most of the committee members, who are all publishers, are busy handling their own business in these trying times,” he told HT.
“Demonetisation has also hampered preparations for Kolkata book fair, as most of the committee members, who are all publishers, are busy handling their own business in these trying times,” De told HT.
The Bengali book publishing industry is overwhelmingly dependent on cash transactions.