By Vinutha Mallya
The New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) has grown to be one of the largest consumer and professional book fairs in Asia. This year, the fair featured some 1,100 exhibitors who displayed their books, content and services and a nearly equal number who could not afford full stands were allotted nooks to sell their wares.
The event, which took place last week in India’s capital city, drew a variety of exhibitors, visitors and international participants. It is organized and managed by the National Book Trust, India, which is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, and whose mandate is to promote book culture in the country.
The NBT is one of the largest publishers of children’s books in the country, which are made available at affordable prices. The organization also conducts other book fairs across the country, including in towns and villages where bookstores do not exist. Through its many mobile vans that traverse deep pockets of the country, the NBT makes books available to many in India’s vast geographical terrain.
A Million People Buying Books
The annual NDWBF is primarily a consumer fair, with nearly a million visitors, trade and consumer, visit the nine-day event. “The fair has a huge impact on the culture of New Delhi,” says Dr M.A. Sikandar, director of National Book Trust, India, and fair director of NDWBF.
The theme of this year’s fair was “Suryodaya: Emerging Voices from Northeast India.”The theme program included seminars, discussions, film screenings, performances and other cultural events, which introduced the culture and rich diversity of the seven northeastern states of India.
A record 500 literary programs, including author meetings, book launches, and literary themed discussions were held during the fair. The trade component at the Fair has received a huge thrust by the organizers over the last three to four years. Business sessions, seminars (notably, on translation and on digital publishing), and cultural programs were also hosted.
Although the NWDBF attracts the English, Hindi and Urdu languages in majority, a nominal presence of publishers from India’s other official languages is found at the Fair. However, the two government-managed, but autonomous agencies, the National Book Trust and Sahitya Akademi produce books in Indian languages, and their stands were present in every hall for visitors to buy books in different languages.
Of the exhibitors, notable names who were absent this year included Pearson, Tata McGraw Hill, Cengage Learning and Flipkart, among others.
This year, over 25 countries participated in NDWBF, with Singapore as the Guest of Honor country and South Korea as the “Focus Country.” The Singapore delegation included authors writing in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil; illustrators of children’s books and graphic novels; and publishers.
Some international participants of the GLOBALOCAL conference, hosted by the German Book Office New Delhi, just prior to the start of the fair were able to stay on for the book fair. Judith Habermas of Dumont Buchverlag said that she learned a lot in this visit and that she looked forward to attending the fair again next year.
New Delhi Rights Table
The participation in New Delhi Rights Table, held at the fair since 2013, grew from 50 in 2014 to 80 this year. Representatives from 23 countries participated this year. These included Singapore, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, Poland, Germany, UK, Canada and the US.
Many of the participants came only to attend the Rights Table says Binny Kurian, editor at National Book Trust and coordinator of the event. “This shows that the Rights Table is now getting established. We expect it to be a major forum for rights trade in the region in the next two years,” he said.