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Previewing World Book Fair

It's World Book Fair time in Delhi again. National Book Trust Director, Shashi S Sharma offers a peek at the highlights of the upcoming fair, which has grown to become one of the most important not just in South Asia, but across the world. Delhi, which is currently the World Book Capital, has over the years become a crucial hub for books, and the biennial fair has become its cornerstone.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2004 20:27 IST

For Delhi's booklovers, every alternate February is crucial - time for whatever leave from office is possible, a few sneak exits from office, some 'official' work near Pragati Maidan.

For that's where the capital's largest book fair, the World Book Fair (WBF) a biennial event takes place. An event that brings together most of India's biggest names in publishing, the fair is a highlight for many in Delhi.

This year the WBF will be on from February 14 to 22.

And this year is something special too. Delhi also happens to be the current World Book Capital, an annual honour bestowed upon leading literary cities of the world.

The theme of the fair this year is 'India's contribution to Science and Technology,' a theme that has been chosen to highlight India's diverse and significant contribution to these fields.

That Indian science has played a major role over the centuries is often overlooked while recounting India's past glories and we are highlighting this aspect, says Shashi Shekhar Sharma, Director of National Book Trust (NBT), the organiser of the fair.

The 16th WBF will highlight  India's achievements in publishing, says Shashi S Sharma, Director,  National Book Trust.

There will be separate theme pavilion, where books, poster, models and other exhibits will be on display on the subject, he explains. A number of films in collaboration with universities, Nehru Planetarium and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will also be screened. There will also be daily lectures and talks by eminent scientists from across the country.

There will also be separate pavilion for children. While a number of events are scheduled for kids, various schools from the city are being invited to spend time in interactive sessions and do whatever they please in the pavilion for allotted hours.

The fair will spread over an area of 33,000 square yards and will have about 1,200 participants. While the registration for participants from India has already closed, entries for participants from across the globe are still coming in, says Sharma.

A number of activities, including seminars are being organised. Among the topics in which seminars will be held are 'Dialogue among Civilisations' and 'the Relevance of Hindi.' A 'kavi darbar' for poets from across India will be held too. As a special incentive to participants from non-English languages, stalls are being offered at discounted rates to them. In a departure from the previous fair, the stall of various languages will not be grouped together.

According to Sharma, the fair will also help focus the attention of the publishers and other participants on the various challenges facing the book industry in India. Among the major issues before the industry are pricing of books, accessibility, especially in small towns and piracy, all of which will be addressed at the fair. NBT has worked through the year to organize many special exhibitions in various corners of India in an effort to reach the largest possible audience.

The previous fair, held in 2002, had seen 1,065 participants from 23 countries and about 6.5 lakh people had visited to the fair.

And yes, entry to the book fair is free this year too.

First Published: Feb 12, 2004 15:36 IST