| Residents enjoy snacks at the book fair on Sunday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
In book fair, food is the bestseller.
At the 19th Patna Book Fair, the food stalls are drawing a bigger crowd than counterparts selling texts. National and international bestsellers are gathering dust, while bhel puri is being consumed like the proverbial hot cake.
At Indian Book Centre, proprietor R.K. Agarwal is disappointed with the next to nothing sales of No Easy Day — a firsthand account of the mission to assassinate Osama bin Laden.
“Only one copy of the book has been sold over the past four days,” he said. The book fair was inaugurated on March 13. On that day, Agarwal was enthusiastic about the prospects of the military memoir, written by Mark Owen (the pseudonym of a US Navy SEAL who took part in the Abbottabad operation) and Kevin Maurer, which had found a place in the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.
Visitors to the book fair, however, gave it a miss, claiming it was too expensive.
“Why should I buy such an expensive book?” said Kankerbagh resident Sachin Kumar. “I can buy four books for this amount. Or, I can order it from Flipkart (an online store).”
The market price of the book is Rs 550 but one can get a 15 per cent discount at the book fair. On Flipkart, you could avail of a 26 per cent discount and buy paperback copy for Rs 407. But you would have to wait for two to three working days for it to be delivered to your home.
“We are selling it for only Rs 475. If this price doesn’t suit the budget of the people, what will?” said an exasperated Agarwal.
Perhaps he should have peeped out of his stall and looked at the eateries across the Gandhi Maidan. Stalls selling bhel puri, batata puri, Chinese dishes and ice cream were doing brisk business on Sunday. Those queuing up to buy the grub were blissfully unaware of books like Fifty Shades of Grey or the Shiva trilogy that had taken the market by storm.
“Sorry, I have no idea. I’m hearing about these books for the first time,” said Boring Canal Road resident Rohit Singh.
Others were more forthcoming about their reason for coming to the fair. “I have come to have a good time with friends,” said Police Lines resident Rakesh Kumar.