Guwahati: The 20th edition of the much-awaited Northeast Book Fair 2018 began in Guwahati on Friday. The book fest, which will continue till November 20, is hosting 172 publishers and booksellers, including three from Bangladesh. More than 274 book stalls have been given space at the event to display and sell books.
The literary fair has been organised by the All Assam Publishers and Book Sellers Association (AAPBSA). It was inaugurated by eminent writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi, who also held an interaction session with the audience on Saturday.
Talking about the importance of book fairs such as this in the context of Northeast, Thongchi told EastMojo, “Book fairs such as this are very important as it gives you an idea about the new books that are coming up, and even though the visitors at book fairs do not buy books, it definitely serves as a platform for an exchange between the readers, publishers and writers.”
When asked if the habit of book reading is getting lost with the advent of digital media, Thongchi said, “Had it been true, you wouldn’t get to see such large numbers of books coming up at the book fair. E-books won’t be able to replace conventional books any time soon. Social media has in fact encouraged people to write and publish their writings, but it cannot replace books.”
While the orgainsers are expecting more than three lakh people to visit the book fair, it wasn’t an easy task for them to organise the event in the first place. Speaking to EastMojo, Arup Chakravarty, treasurer, AAPBSA, said, “We have not received any support from the government. We were not being given a location to conduct the fair, but finally because of public support, the government had to allot us the venue.”
The AAPBSA has been having a conflict with the state government’s publication board. Chakravarty said, “We had invited CM Sarbananda Sonowal to inaugurate the fair, but he didn’t show up. The government has been trying to sabotage the book fair, as the government-organised Guwahati Book Fair has not been able to attract as much public attention as we have through the Northeast Book Fair.”
The 12-day fair is hosting several reputed publishers and booksellers including Penguin Random House, Oxford University press, Children Book Trust, National Book Trust, among others. Speaking to EastMojo, Pinaki Sarkar from Penguin Random House India said, “We have been participating in this fair for the past three years, and there are a good number of readers in the Northeast. We have so many titles relevant to Northeast and are planning to provide a platform to the writers from this region of the country.”
Shakil Ahmed, a regular visitor at the book fair said, “This is a very important festival, and the collection of books is also very good. I had already prepared a list of books that I had to buy from this book fair. There are some books that we don’t usually get access to in Assam, but book fairs such as this give us access to them. Apart from selling and buying of books, organisers should also organise interactive sessions with intellectuals on the current issues pertaining to the region and the country.”
During the course of the 12-day fair, popular authors such as Ravinder Singh and Durjoy Dutta will also hold interactive sessions with the visitors.