Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Delhi Book Fair to promote sporting culture

Over 1,000 publishers and exhibitors from the country and abroad will take part in the 19th edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair that opens at Pragati Maidan here this Saturday.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal will inaugurate the eight-day fair at Hamsadhwani Theatre on the sprawling exhibition ground. In view of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in the city, the Minister will also release a special “International Rights Catalogue” with bibliographic and copyright details of over 550 titles of books.

The catalogue that connects with the term Commonwealth and the games associated with it seeks to facilitate an exchange of copyrights about books on sports among publishers. The idea behind the whole exercise is to have a wider understanding of sporting culture.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, National Book Trust chairman Prof. Bipan Chandra said this book fair is the largest in the Afro-Asian region and the second largest in the world. “This was brought home to me when I visited the Moscow Book Fair last year. Of course, the Kolkata Book Fair is also important and the Mumbai Book Fair too is coming up. As our fair is a biennial one, we have requested the HRD Ministry to have it every year. I am hopeful that Kapil Sibal, who is an intellectual, will agree to have this fair every year. Even the book fairs in Frankfurt, Beijing and Tokyo are held annually.”

Pointing out that NBT can organise the fair annually only if the Government provides a grant of Rs.80 crore, Prof. Chandra said: “We require support from the media for two causes. First, the Union Finance Ministry has imposed sale tax on books which is completely unnecessary. One can understand if this tax is imposed on automobiles. We hope that Pranab Mukherjee, who is heading this Ministry, will acquiesce to our request to withdraw this tax. Second, the India Trade Promotion Organisation has increased rental to alarming proportions. As a result, many publishers have decided not to participate this year.” Stating that the book fair will try to find a connection between the world of books and that of sports, NBT director Nuzhat Hassan said the theme of the fair is “Reading our Commonwealth: An International Rights Exhibition of Books on Sports”. Keeping in mind the Commonwealth Games, the NDWBF will have 700 titles published by 75 publishers across the country on different categories of sports, he said. Like the India International Trade Fair which after a few hiccups was successful in hosting the “green fair”, the book fair also seeks to be environmental-friendly.

Stating that the NBT respects all laws promulgated by the Government, its director has requested all publishers to adhere to the new guidelines. “At the last book fair we registered a 70 per cent increase in business in books published by us. Recession hasn’t made a big impact on books.

The NBT has taken a large punch of recession as we are giving stalls and stands on subsidised rates.”Though the National Book Foundation of Pakistan has refused to participate this year, Royal Book Company, Iqbal Academy and Sheikh Mubarakh Ali from the neighbouring country have confirmed their participation.

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