The 44th edition of the World Book Fair might be seeing a good number of footfalls but stalls catering to regional languages are not getting sufficient visitors readers this year.
Regional publishers said that because of the lack of readership, many of them are hesitating from putting up stalls.
"There is hardly any readership for Tamil books. Till now, our market has been down compared to last year. Also, the presence of big publishers is affecting our business," Palami Kumar from Tamil Nadu's New Century Book House told IANS. This is the only stall selling Tamil books.
A similar reason was cited by Tapas Sen, who represents the Tripura Book stall, the only one from the state.
"There are many Bengali-speaking people in Delhi but they are not into reading Bengali, especially the youth and the children. Also, there are few Bengali book stores in CR Park. So certainly they don't need to buy books from here. The market is not blooming at the book fair," Sen laented.
"The World Book Fair is loosing its charm because it is happening every year. Readers think that they can come the next year hence the fair doesn't pull more crowds. Even the Hindi stalls are finding it difficult to make a presence despite having a wide-scale Hindi speaking population," Rajendra Goswami from Madhya Pradesh Hindi Granth Academy noted.
There are a number of stalls selling Punjabi books but the owners said that there has hardly been any sales.
"Nobody reads books in their mother tongue now-a-days. All are into English and some still read Hindi, but very few people favour Punjabi books. Even small-scale book fairs organised in some interior part of Punjab see more sale of books than here," a representative from Manpreet Prakashan Publication House stated.
Similarly, stalls for Odiya, Marathi, Telegu and Gujarati books had few takers.
"The regional publishers don't want to come here because they know Delhi is majorly dominated by Hindi speaking people so nobody from Maharashtra is keen on coming here," Sanjay Patnakar from Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Prakashak Sangathan stated.
"People come inside stalls, click photos, talk to me in Odiya, know about the state and leave. Most of them don't buy anything. We are actually here as advertisers rather than as salespersons so even if the market is down it won't bother us much. But yes, the private publishers are affected," Vijay Kumar Rao from Odisha Publishers and Booksellers Association said.
Despite these negative vibes, there are nine stalls for Bengali books, six for Malayalam books, 10 for Punjabi books and three for Sindhi books.
The stalls for Malayalam and Bengali books still manage to draw decent crowds owing to the lasrge number of people from Kerala and West Bnegal in the national capital.
"The market is a little low compared to last year, mainly because of demonitisation, but people are coming to buy books in Malayalam. 'Haimavatha Bhoovil' by MP Veerendra Kumar is one of the most sold books this time," Suresh from Mathrubhumi Books commented.
For some readers, the book fair is a channel to mingle with the regional literary cultures which they often miss while living in the national capital.
"For us, the book fair is the only medium to get some books in bengali so I come here every year. I am looking for some old books and poems. Also often I bump into old friends from Kolkata or make new friends at the stalls," D.C. Bhattacharya from Dilshad Garden, who was holding a copy of author Protiva Basu's book, told IANS.
The fair will ending on January 15.
(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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