It is said, “The ink of a scholar is more sacred than the blood of a martyr”. I perfectly agree with this view. I am a lover of books. I spend a good deal of my leisure, reading books. Books give me immense joy and satisfaction apart from knowledge.
It dispels my tension for some time, at least. That is why; I always visit book fairs whenever I get a chance to do so. Last January, I got the opportunity to visit the North-East book fair held at Guwahati.
The book fair was organised by the Booksellers and Publishers of Assam and Northeast at the Judges Field, Guwahati from 10th Jan. to 20th Jan., 2003. A strong barricade of tin sheets and bamboos fencing were erected all round the field with a grand entrance. Numerous colourful flags and decorative lights were put up all over the field.
Within the enclosure there were numerous stalls put up by different publishers and booksellers. Besides, the publishers from Assam and Northeastern states, several leading publishers from other states too had set up their stalls. One evening, I visited the fair along with my friend. We were surprised to see a huge crowd at the fair.
The crowd, of course, mostly consisted of school and college-going students. Nevertheless, there were a lot of children and general public. We visited many stalls and went through many books. We saw thousands of books exhibited on stands and on tables, arranged topic wise.
At the entrance to each stall there was a counter for inquiry and payment. One could also get a catalogue of the books available in the stall. I was interested in getting the latest arrival on Engineering Entrance Examination, while my friend wanted to get some good books on computer software. We were not disappointed and got what we wanted and that too at a cheaper rate than what the ordinary bookstalls offer.
Now-a-days, book fairs are becoming quite common. Besides, the commercial advantages, they also provide several benefits to the general public. The greatest merit of book fairs is that it widens people’s reading habits and love for books, leading to an improvement in literacy and public education.
The commercial benefit of book fair is also significant. It promotes large-scale sale of books within a short time, with minimum expenditure. Generally, book fair exhibit hundreds of books on different topics and therefore, one can get the book of one’s choice at a short time.
Another notable merit of book fairs is that during such an occasion we can go through the content of the books quite leisurely while that is not possible, if we think of purchasing a book from a bookstall. Generally large discount and special concessions are offered to attract the public and so one can purchase the book one wants at a cheaper rate.
Book fairs also provide the opportunity to see and go through the latest publications of different authors. Nowadays, book fairs organise various readings recitation and other such competitions. People also get an opportunity to meet well- known writers as publishers try to arrange for that.
Today, conducting book fairs is becoming a flourishing business. Hundreds of books are sold out during such occasions. There is no doubt that apart from the financial benefits that book fairs offer, they also increase people’s habit of reading and help to spread knowledge at large. According to C.E.M. Joad, an English Prose writer “Books are the chief carriers of civilization”.