Agartala book fair begins, bibliomania grips people

Agartala, Feb 11 (IANS) With the opening of the 35th Agartala book fair on Saturday, bibliomania gripped the people of the erstwhile princely northeastern state.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, accompanied by Bangladesh’s eminent writer Abul Memon, inaugurated the 12-day-long Agartala book fair at the famous 127-year-old Umakanta Academy school, which was established by the state’s former kings.

Publishers and book sellers from New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati besides Tripura have set up 121 stalls in the fair. For the first time no publishers and book sellers from Bangladesh were seen at the fair.

Tripura Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Bhanulal Saha said that like previous years, seminars on various themes, cultural programmes and assembly of poets would be organised during the annual carnival.

“In view of the demonetisation of high value currencies, arrangements of cashless transactions would be made by the book sellers and publishers. A bank counter would be set up to help both book sellers and buyers,” he added.

“The Agartala book fair was launched in 1981. Except for two years, it has been held annually. After New Delhi and Kolkata book fairs, Agartala book fair is the most popular book fair in India,” Tripura Publishers’ Guild Secretary Raghunath Sarkar told IANS.

He said that the annual book fair has given a big boost to local publishing business with an average of 150 to 200 titles being published every year on the eve of the book fair. However, this year a record number of 400 titles are expected to be published.

“In the first year in 1981 there were only three local publishers in Tripura, but now the number has reached more than 38,” Sarkar said.

The Chief Minister said that due to the massive growth of various electronic mediums, the habit of reading books is rapidly declining.

He urged the writers and publishers to write and publish more and more books for children.

Bangladesh’s renowned writer Abul Memon said that in the changing era, children are just taking exams and not becoming educated. “Not many people are going to the libraries to read or borrow books.”

The fair will end on February 22.

–IANS

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