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No Books at the Book Fair in Kolkata!

Books were still missing on the second day of the 32nd Kolkata Book fair, reports Vinita Singh.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2007 04:21 IST

Books were still missing on the second day of the 32nd Kolkata Book fair. Out of 580 stalls only 2-3 stalls were ready with books. Most of the publishers are still waiting beside their stalls---waiting for decorators to complete their work and ready the racks as quickly as possible.

Stalls and books are not ready but book lovers have started coming to the fair in search of their favourite books. "Every year I visit the book fair on first day and this year I am visiting on the second day because I thought that the fair will be ready. It is rather depressing for me to see the fair in such a condition where the main element of the fair---books---are missing," said Sunil Bhandari a visitor to the fair.

"Two days into the fair, readers are returning empty-handed. This fair is taking place just to ensure continuity and we readers will be the worst sufferers. Since I have come from a distant place, getting no books is really disgusting," said Amol Roy a Post-graduate student of Burdwan University.

According to decorators at the fair, three more days is required to complete the construction of the stalls. "We labours are under tremendous pressure to complete the stalls even after working late nights.

People have started coming from the day of the inauguration and they are looking out for they're the favourite book-stalls", said Gopal Babu, a labourer. The little magazine stalls too have stocked a few books for the first day.

"A handful of books are all we have. Last year, on the first Sunday of Book fair in Maidan, we had little space to stand because the ground was packed to capacity. This year, there are no books and few readers," said Ananya Bhattacharyya, publisher and owner of Ludhbhok.

The crowd on Day 2 was palpable but publishers are pessimistic about the remaining days of the fair. They are keeping their fingers crossed that the fair be extended for a few more days. "We are left with no alternative but to accept this venue at the last minute.

Today we have opened our stalls but without expecting too much crowds," said senior sales Manager V. Radhakrishnan of UBS Publishers.

Guild officials though are showing a brave front. "We do not have any expectations this year but we decided to conduct the fair in order to meet the expectations of readers and also the

Australian delegates who are participating in the fair as the theme country. The turnout today is heartening enough and this is proof enough that book-lovers can go anywhere for their books," said Tridib Chattopadhyay, General Secretary of Guild.

"The ticket system will start from Tuesday when the fair will be fully ready. But this year, due to shortage of space, we could not accommodate all the publishers. The Children's Pavilion, Seminar Halls, and the Central Park which enrich the ambience of the book fair, are absent in this year," he added.

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First Published: Feb 12, 2007 04:21 IST