Nowadays the circumference of a fair has been extended from the social and religious fields to the arena of science, technology, leather, garments, industry etc. Today I will discuss a visit to a book fair.
Amongst all such fairs, the book fair is of recent origin. A book fair is like a feast of books. It started in our country about forty years ago. The Calcutta Book Fair which started in 1976 is generally centred around the Bengali books. Yet it is gradually gaining an international character as books from Germany, France, Britain, Bangladesh etc. come here by courtesy of the different publishers. In Delhi, the World Book Fair is held at Pragati Maidan. The biggest world book fair is organised by Germany called the Frankfurt World Book Fair which pioneered the book fairs. In India, National Book Trust organises several book fairs in different states. The attraction for the books is so unavoidable that in West Bengal, nowadays, every district organises visit a book fair every year.
A book fair has come to serve several cultural and social purposes too. The numerous books on art, literature, history, geography, philosophy, political science, economics, different sciences, technology, religions, music, juvenile literature, reference books, encyclopaedias, etc. are displayed in such a manner that a visitor can handle them freely and buy some if he likes. This sight and smell of the world of books cannot but develop an interest in books and the reading habit. This is a great cultural benefit. Then a book fair serves as something like a window to the world. One may come to know from it about the latest title in a particular subject. The publishers also have a quite brisk trade. So the economic importance of a fair is also considerable.
Last year I visited the Calcutta Book Fair. There were at least nine hundred stalls of books, It was a wonderful world of so many books on various topics, sizes and colours. Stalls were also designed beautifully to attract visitors. Long queues in front of certain stalls were a common feature in the book fair. However, it was a great opportunity for having a varied choice of books in the book fair. The main attraction of a book fair is not a mere business but a display of books on different subjects. Book-lovers crowded there to make their choice and buy books from the stalls. I was tempted to buy a lot of books but my purse did not permit me. As a result, I bought a few books and collected a lot of catalogues to buy books at the next opportunity. A book fair is indeed an appetizer for further reading.
Apart from the books, a book fair has some more attractions. Famous writers sign autographs before selling a book on the spot. The cultural programme is staged every day. Furthermore, there are seminars and open debates too. But books are becoming very costly nowadays. The government and the publishers should look into the matter so that books do not flap beyond the reach of the common people. However, a book fair spreads the message that books are our best friends and companions, enlarge our vision and make our life more meaningful.