Delhi Book Fair is an important book event in the calendar of Delhi. Before I give you any more details, allow me to clarify that Delhi Book Fair (Dilli Pustak Mela) is different from New Delhi World Book Fair (Vishwa Pustak Mela). Delhi Book Fair is organized in (usually in Sep-Oct) by India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) and The Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP). New Delhi World Book Fair (Vishwa Pustak Mela) is organized by the National Book Trust, India (usually in February). Venue of both these fairs is same, and that is Pragati Maidan.
Yesterday, I began the year with a visit to my favorite world of books. Delhi’s fog-gods did show mercy and by the noon there was warm enough sunshine spread all over. It made the weather savory and typical to that of the winters in this city. I visited and spend the day in Delhi Book Fair 2011 in Pragati Maidan. This year, it is being held in Dec-Jan because it was postponed due to Commonwealth Games.
As I entered Hall 6 of Pragati Maidan, the first stall that came on my way was that of Pustak Mahal. I have read a lot of their books during my school-days. Their Vishwa Prasiddha Shrinkhala was my favorite -but since long I have not touched any of those books. Seeing the same books still of their racks was a nice experience. I moved forward at a leisurely pace visiting different publishers. I had decided that I would give preference to Hindi publishers because English books I, anyway, read all the time. Nowadays, I hardly read any Hindi books.
Roaming around in the fair I had an interesting realization that a lot of people present there knew me (albeit not by face). Almost everyone in Hindi publishing knows Kavita Kosh and therefore a certain name Lalit Kumar. I recognized a number of faces there though they could not recognize me. Weaving my way through a crowd of people, curiously looking at books, I hopped from one stall to another. I don’t purchase books in my first scan of such fairs. The first scan is only for seeing what’s out there. Meanwhile I keep deciding which books I want to pick up. In the second scan, which is much quicker, I pick books that I want to buy. This technique has a lot of benefits. The foremost one is that I do not go on a book-buying spree. I get to buy only those books that I really want to read immediately. I make notes for the rest of the books and buy them in ones or twos when I would have finished the first lot bought. The second big benefit is that I get to compare prices and quality of the books on same subject from different publishers. For example, yesterday, I had almost bought a couple of thesauruses from Rajkamal Prakashan but, curbing my bubbling desire, I decided to buy them in the second scan. Avoiding indulgence was rewarding and I came across the Hindi thesaurus by Arvind Kumar published by National Book Trust. I always wanted to buy a copy of it but did not know who the publisher was. By the way, National Book Trust’s stall was easily the best among the ones I visited. Lagging behind were Rajkamal and then Sahitya Akadami’s stalls. Pustak Mahal and Bhartiya Jnanpith were also nice in terms of variety of books. Vani Prakashan’s collection somehow did not sound great to me. For myself, I bought only three books, one each about Swami Vivekanand and Jhansi Ki Rani Laxmibai and a collection of tribal folklore of India. Besides these, I got six more books which either are references or meant for my cousins.
In the fair I bumped into my ever-smiling friends Sakhi and Mahua —it was good to see them. Company of Meenakshi and Manjari was also great. I also met an old colleague. All in all it was a good fair —though it was much smaller in comparison with the World Book Fair —but still it was large enough. This is how the my date of 1/1/11 was spent.