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Delhi Book Fair is a family event; we have incorporated key factors to ensure people of all age groups feel enlightened: Ashok Gupta

Kriti Tulsiani | News18.com

First published: August 25, 2015, 11:53 AM IST | Updated: August 26, 2015
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Delhi Book Fair is a family event; we have incorporated key factors to ensure people of all age groups feel enlightened: Ashok Gupta
Indian Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) in association with Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) is organizing the 21st edition of Delhi Book Fair which will start from August 29 and continue till September 6, 2015 at Pragati Maidan. Here is an excerpt from the exclusive interview with Jayanta Das, General Manager of ITPO and Ashok Gupta, President of FIP.

New Delhi: Indian Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) in association with Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) is organizing the 21st edition of Delhi Book Fair which will start from August 29 and continue till September 6, 2015 at Pragati Maidan. The theme of the fair this year is “Skill Development”, which will dwell on the role of national and international publishers, librarians, researchers, academicians, writers, dealers and traders, students and general public.

A number of conferences and seminars, book releases, book launches, book discussions, literary activities for children and meet-the-author get-togethers will also be organised by leading publishers during the fair.

Books have always played a big role in inculcating knowledge and motivating the mind to achieve our goals. With publishers and authors expected from China, Singapore and Pakistan (for Urdu language), the expected footfall will go up to 15 lakhs.

Here is an excerpt from the exclusive interview with Jayanta Das, General Manager of ITPO and Ashok Gupta, President of FIP.

Before we begin to talk about the 21st edition of the Delhi Book Fair, tell us something about the history of this prestigious event and how it has evolved over the years.

Ashok Gupta: About 20 years ago, there were no good book shops available, where you could get good general books, textbooks were available but not general books. And the people wanted that. So under FIP we decided to hold our own fair but there was no good locations and then we approached ITPO and they immediately agreed, and jointly we started the first fair which was held at Willingdon Crescent, New Delhi. Initially, it was very limited. But gradually it has improved and grown and now it has become one of the best fairs in the book industry of India.

Jayanta Das: Today, if you see the publishing industry, it is doing better than the other countries compared globally in India. This book fair was introduced for the students and other concerning to develop the culture of reading.

With the advancement of technology, a lot of people are shifting to the electronic platforms to read books. How does that affect readership?

Ashok Gupta: No doubt there is some impact on the readership, but it is limited to the younger generation. Not all books are available on Kindle and other platforms, fiction you can say, is available but not every textbook is present. And that has also not impacted much, so far. However technology is important and everyone has to absorb and accept it. Gradually, it will make roots in the traditional book market. And all publishers are slowly moving in that direction. In my opinion, at least for 20 years e-books may have some share but not as much as our traditional books.

As we know, the theme for this year is ‘Skill Development’. What types of skills will be emphasized? And what kind of books will the readers be offered?

Ashok Gupta: Several skills are required to excel in every field. We are not focusing on a particular direction. We took the idea from our PM Modi’s ‘Make in India and Skill Development’ program, and requested our publishers to send and display books on Skills Development prominently at their stalls. ITPO has also arranged a separate hall, theme pavilion where books, pamphlets and other things will be kept to create awareness about the need of skill development.

Is there any particular set of audience you plan to target this year?

Jayanta Das: Reading is a need for everybody. You can not differentiate between rural and urban readers. It is a must for all. New thing that we have launched this year is the author’s lounge, where the authors will interact with the public so that they know the importance of books and this industry. Also, we are giving free entry to the students and teachers when they come via proper channels This edition is trying to incorporate all factors so that the readers of all age groups - whether children or adults – feel comfortable. Four days out of all days are holidays so that the maximum benefit goes to the readers. Also, publishers as a special measure will give discounts to students on the purchase of books.

Ashok Gupta: This fair is basically business to consumers, it is a family oriented event. Also, it is an air-conditioned environment where you can sit and browse the books so that the new generation gets hooked up to the reading habits. Our aim is to invite families.

Are we expecting any international writers and publishers this year?

Ashok Gupta: All well-known publishers have established their divisions here in India. Usually they visit. Their books are always available. They may not be directly participating in the event, but their books will be always available.

What, in your views is going to be the highlight of this fair. Any particular event that the readers should look forward to?

Ashok Gupta: Federation is the only trade body that is represented in International Traders Publishers association from India. One major function is Hindi Samelan in which 200 publishers are participating about Hindi Language and publishing issues. Second, we have an Excellence in Book Production award function, we are the only organization that awards publishers on the basis of layout, binding, paper quality and not on the content. From slum children also, we have a Bachpan Society that would bring about 70-80 slum children. To make them more creative, story telling sessions will also take place. And then for youth, Lekhika Sang is doing youth related functions, the Authors Guild of India will focus on author-related issues, then Ranganathan Library will focus on Library issues. You will be interested to know that the British Council will also be a part of it.

Jayanta Das: If you know, President Abdul Kalaam was fond of books and children. To honour Kalam Ji, we have a special theme pavilion with his books to encourage readership. We are trying to arrange musical programs, naataks, bands from military. It is different from other fairs, because we are jointly planning to provide special transport facilities such as shuttle buses or trolleys for the elderly in the campus. Everything depends on the finance, but we are definitely trying to give whatever possible assistance and for the publishers also, whatever benefits they would like to draw. This year, we are trying to introduce one maximum order booking award for the participants for motivations point of view.

India is a country full of talent. We have so many aspiring writers. Is there any message you would like to give them?

Ashok Gupta: The only thing I can say is one should not copy what the others have written. They should write from their heart. If they are writing something from their heart, I think then it is going to click. It will take some time, but over the years they should have patience. If it is from their heart, I am 100% sure, it will click.

Jayanta Das: Indian mind is globally recognized and admitted and they have performed it. Whether you talk about IT or other part of this thing, even if you talk about ‘zero, that was invented in my country. Need not to say, today talk about digitalization, they had developed this phonetic into binary from 2-8 , that is 256 bytes, but because of Hindi it has developed up to 448. So, for writing sky is the limit. I am confident, yes.. the Indian brain, our future generations and writers can do remarkable work.

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