Books are our best friends, this proverb has lost its meaning. This truth is very much evident when we closely observe the new generation so engrossed in the tech. world. Love and passion for books are definitely on a decline, bringing about an alarming situation. New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) faced the consequences of this lost passion among readers. Reading the daily newspaper reviews on NDWBF, I was intrigued to have personal conversations from people and thus decided on spending a day there, surveying and interacting with various publishing house representatives. I discovered that the truth isn’t always the most exciting version of things, or the best or worst, but it’s somewhere in between.
The organisers and sponsors seemed to be missing the necessary enthusiasm and the burn was sadly felt by writers, publication houses and the handful of book lovers. Basic amenities and proper management seemed to have taken a back seat at the New Delhi World Book Fair. The fair as it has been held for the past 45 years, has now become a major calendar event in the publishing world. It is organized by National Book Trust, India, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, working towards the promotion of books and the habit of reading in the country. However, NDWBF’18 seemed to be just another customary event, like a body without a soul. “I have been setting my stall for the past 11 years, but the basic facilities provided by NBT to the publication houses are not adequate. It might be due to the ongoing construction but this is really disheartening,” said the Publications Manager of Katha Books.
These days people are ready to stand in tandem for hours and hours to own a new model of a mobile phone but are not willing to spare few minutes glancing at books. Most of the visitors at the book fair entered with a fixed mindset, visited their favourite publications, picked up a book or two and exited. They were in no mood to explore or interact, though book fairs like this are meant to widen one’s horizons within the literary world. A source from Better Books Services shared, “This time we are very unhappy from the response, it is not just about the poor facilities but also the uninterested response from the visitors. People are coming in to ask for a particular book and are going back without even checking the rest of the collection.”