Cash crunch, digitisation impact northeast book fairs

Agartala/Silchar, Dec 26 (IANS) Demonetisation of high value currency notes and digitisation of books evoked a mixed response at book fairs in northeast India.

The ongoing book fairs in Agartala in Tripura and Silchar in Assam are two significant annual events for the book lovers, publishers and sellers as well as writers.

Publishers and book sellers from Bangladesh, Kolkata, Delhi besides northeast states and other places took part in these fairs.

“Demonetisation has not affected the sale of books in the ongoing 12th Agartala ‘Pustak Mela’ (book fair) here,” Tripura Publishers’ Guild president Debananda Dam told IANS.

He said that like in previous years, the gathering at the book fair was good and sale of books almost satisfactory.

A total of 46 stalls of book sellers and publishers from Bangladesh, Kolkata, Delhi and various northeastern states, besides Tripura, were set up at the book fair organised by the Tripura Publishers’ Guild.

Dam, who is associated with book publishing for more than four decades, said digitisation of books has not affected the selling and buying of books at the fair though the people are gradually becoming familiar with digital books and online reading and buying of books.

The guild chief said there would possibly be no effect of demonetisation and digitisation of books on 35th Agartala Book Fair organised by the Tripura government from February 11 next year.

In a sharp contrast, demonetisation of old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes and digitisation of books seem to have affected the sale of books at the ongoing Silchar Book Fair.

“Both digitisation of books and sudden withdrawal of high value currency notes, like other trade, also affected the books sales at the Silchar book fair,” Gobinda Kangshabanik, a book seller, said.

He said that growing indifference towards book reading among youths was depressing.

“The tech savvy people opt for online versions of books. Moreover, collection of good books is also an important factor. Despite having a large number of books with varied subjects, the sales of books at the fair are absolutely disappointing,” Kangshabanik said.

“Some crowds gathered only in the evening to enjoy the host of cultural programmes that take place at the book fair ground,” he added.

The deserted look of the Silchar Book Fair has saddened the booksellers.

–IANS

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