Delhi Book Fair is a book cum stationary fair, generally held in the month of August or September every year at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. A more larger affair “Delhi World Book Fair” also held at same venue in the month of February every year. However, the main aim of both the fairs remains same and they both promote the importance of books to bridge the gap across various socio-cultural, linguistic and religious diversities. Both are great cultural events and book bonanzas keenly awaited by students, teachers, scholars,librarians and book lovers.
We went to visit the 18th Delhi Book Fair, which is going on at Pragati Maidan and scheduled to be end on Sept 9. The entry ticket for the fair is now INR 20 per person. Earlier, it used to be free and later it was INR 10. However, School children can still get free entries with their identity card only. Fair timings are from 11 AM to 8 PM and entry to the fair is closed from 7:30 PM. Most of the publishers among the 235 participating in the fair are from India. Publishers from abroad include those from the US, Pakistan, Russia and China.
This fair is held in the Hall No. 8, 9, 10 ,11, 12A of Prgati Maidan. Gate No.7 of Pragati Maidan is the nearest gate to the Pragati Maidan Metro Station that is about 500 meters away. In the right side of Gate No. 7, there is a ticket counter to purchase the entry tickets. Bags, Cameras, Mobile Phones etc are allowed at the fair venue.
After crossing the main gate of Pragati Maidan, you can see some Tempo Travelers Cabs waiting for the passengers. These AC cabs provide free shuttle services from the main gate to exhibition halls, that is 300-400 meters away.This bus service is available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at five-minute intervals.
But if you walk on the road like we did, you find yourself in the middle of a literary ocean. Both sides of the road is full of publishers’ banners and their most famous book titles. Before reaching the fair venue, you could know more about the publishers and famous titles from these banners only. This fair is equally good for adults as well as for children. There are lot of child literature including academic books, stories books, comic books and sports items available for the children in this fair
Our book exploration started from Hall No. 11. Actually, after entering in Hall No. 11, you can proceed to Hall No. 10, 9 and 8 from inside as they are interconnected. Hall No. 12 A is at a different location from these halls. Every well known publishers in India is participating in this fair. There are Indian publishers like National Book Trust Of India, Indian Jnanpith, Vanee Prakshan, Om Books etc..Internationally recognized name like PHI, Oxford, Cambridge etc are also present there. Every publisher is having his own specialty and as a buyer and reader you can actually enjoy it and avail the major benefits offered by them. For example, if you need academic books, you can go to Oxford and PHI, if you need books on Hindi Literature Vanee Prakashan is very good, for children books there is NBT, for competition guides,their is Upkar and S.Chand, for Lonely Planet Guides, there is OM Books, and if you want to subscribe magazines like Outlook, Yojana or India Today, you can do it there instantly.
If you are interested in Kitchen, cookery and food, then there is a stall of Nita Mehta. She is one of the India’s most celebrated cookbook author, not only founded the largest publishing house of Cookbooks, Indian Cookery books, Indian Cuisine, International Cuisine in India, but is also the force behind a successful chain of Cooking Academies.She has published unique children books under her company.
If you are interested in Astrology and want to know about your future, you can visit the stall of Future Point. They deal in everything related to Horoscopes, Astrology, Palmistry, Tarot, Feng Shui and other occult sciences including daily, monthly and yearly horoscope.
And this book fair is not about only Hindi and English Literature. There are rich collection of Urdu Literature, Punjabi Literature and South Indian Literature.
And, the stall of Indian Social Institute always remains one of my favorite stall in the book fair. Various small booklet on social issues, social laws and public rights are easily available here at very cheap prices.
Many stalls are offering attractive discounts to lure the customers. You can find various sales and discounts all around.
And there are the avid readers searching books from one shelf to another, from one publisher to another. sometimes, it seems that everyone wants to buy every books. A book has no ending, and the desire of a avid reader to read the books is also the same. Their search for books goes on from first to second, second to third and so on….
If you are tired of walking from stall to stall and want to take some rest, there are large areas covered with mat, where you can take rest. A cafeteria is also there.
If you do not want to sit on the mat, you can walk outside to the hall 11. Just in front of the hall 11 towards hall 12A, there is a good quality Pragati Restaurant.
The theme of this year fair is “e-books”. There is a dedicated theme pavilion for this. You can find many young executives from company like Readwhere, who try to explain their customers everything about the e-books. But they may become disappointed when a customer curiously asks at the end if he will get these books for free. Internet is still about free software downloads, free song downloads, free movie downloads etc . in this country, then why not a book? It reminds me the old days of gigapedia and nulibrary…Companies trying for their e-books business expansion at the fair are still struggling to change this mindset of a typical Indian. E-books still have a long way to go in India.
After visiting the theme pavilion, we proceeded into the hall 12A. The major stalls here are related to Stationary items. There are every well known company from the market of papers, pens, pencils and other stationary products. There are big giants like Kangaro Industries, Ballarpur Paper etc and small one like Mirchi India, Bawa Pen etc.
From paper industry, you can find BILT, Pacific Papers, Navneet Publications etc. They are selling everything from Office Stationary, School Stationary, Designing Printing with products ranging from Papers Rim,Rough registers,Note books, envelops, labels etc.
Another company Paper Theater is selling interesting items made from paper like these clocks in various shapes.
If you are interested to buy some regular gift items, teddy bears etc, Archies Gallery’s stall is also available there.
From the writing equipment market, you can find the presence of every major Pen Manufactures and brands like Reynolds, Linc, Luxor, Parker, Montex etc.
Premier ball pen and fountain pen brands like E Monte is also present there. In their showcase you can see various pens that prices vary from INR 1500 to INR 7500000. Ripple HRH gold white is a limited edition pen with only 39 pens worldwide at the cost of INR 7500000.
Moving further from one stall to another stall, you can also find the stalls from various spiritual organizations like Art of Living, Shahaja Yoga, Sai Baba etc.
At the last, If you are still not tired and have some time to spend, you can watch a movie at the Shakuntalam Theater in Pragati Maidan.These movies are free of cost for the visitors of the fair and the seats at theater are available at first come first basis. The list of movies include the classic like Guide and critically acclaimed like Parineeta along with several other regional movies.
The Delhi Book Fair has been attracting 2.5 lakh to three lakh visitors every year, and this year the number is expected to go up. It is always a great pleasure to visit and explore the collection of books at various stalls in this fair.