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Rain or shine, book fair to stay for all seasons

- Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma instructs Publication Board to organise events all year round

Guwahati, Nov. 26: Seasons will come and seasons will go, but the Publication Board Assam’s book fair might soon be there to stay, be it under the blazing sun of summer or pouring rain of the monsoon, in golden autumn or in the chill of winter.

Dispur has asked the Publication Board Assam to organise its book fair across the state all round the year. The board currently holds its Guwahati Book Fair once in a year in the city.

“The main objective of the book fair is to promote reading habits, especially among the younger generation, and help increase literacy,” a state government official told The Telegraph.

Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has instructed the Publication Board to work on the project so it can be implemented on an experimental basis next year.

The official said the education department was extremely satisfied over the success of the 28th edition of the Guwahati Book Fair, which concluded last month.

More than three lakh books worth Rs 2 crore were sold during the fair. The board had alone earned Rs 6 lakh through the sale of books.

Guwahati Book Fair, started in 1984, is Assam’s oldest book fair, organised by the Publication Board. The inaugural fair was held for 12 days on Judges Field.

“Many people cannot come to the city to visit the Guwahati Book Fair, for constraints of time, distance and various other reasons. But for the sake of popularising books, the Publication Board has to organise book fairs in different places of the state and at different times. So the board has to chalk out a plan so that book fairs are held throughout the year and no one misses an opportunity to buy and read good books,” the official said.

According to the initial plan, the Publication Board will first select a group of districts every year to organise the fairs in different seasons.

The administration and education department officials in the respective districts will be consulted to fix the schedule.

In organising the book fairs across the state, the board will give preference to places which are considered underdeveloped because of floods, inaccessibility and illiteracy, the official said. The board may even come out with a calendar with dates and venues of its book fairs in different places in the state, he added.

The official said the state government is also excited about the latest report on Youth of Northeast India: Demographics and Readership, which reveals that the northeastern states, particularly Assam, have a greater proportion of readers among its youth population.

The report was a follow-up study of the National Youth Readership Survey (2009-10) assigned to National Council of Applied Economic Research by the National Book Trust.