| Visitors at the Patna Book Fair on Sunday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
The last day of the Patna Book Fair turned out to be the best in terms of sales volume with organisers claiming there has been a qualitative improvement in readership.
Ratneshwar, the president of Centre for Readership Development, was busy counting the total number of people in the fair. “According to ticket sale figures, more than seven lakh people participated in the fair. Almost 70 per cent of them were youths. There has been a paradigm shift in the reading behaviour of the youth,” said Ratneshwar.
“The youth are concentrating on motivational books, fiction and literature. The youth are reading about serious issues, including politics, entrepreneurship, social changes and rights. The new trend somewhat shows that quality of readership is improving,” added Ratneshwar.
Going by the numbers, there has been a 35 per cent increase in the sales of books. “The awareness among the people about the book has grown gradually. Now readers first check the names of the books on the Internet and then come to buy those. The new cyber media has reduced our burden and made the buying process easier. Now people don’t take much time to read the preface or compare books, as they decide beforehand. In the past five years, the readership in Hindi has increased. We have sold more than 3,000 books this year,” said Atul Maheshwari, book fair in charge, Vani Prakashan.
Mahvish Ayesha, an engineering student from Maulana Azad College of Engineering and Technology, who came on all the 15 days, said: “I am a bookworm and find comfort in reading. There is a huge variety of books by people from different walks of life. The young authors are really coming up with new themes and stories. I am fond of short stories. I have bought Khuswant Singh’s short stories compiled by Vikram Seth,” said Mahvish.
Akshita Singh, a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya was busy collecting her favourite love stories and novels on the last day. “I have bought books of almost all my favourite authors, including Vikram Seth, Anupam Kher, Durjoy Dutta and Arundhati Roy. I am more fond of thrillers, historic and love stories. Today, I bought almost one book from each of my favourite genres,”she said.
Mahesh Shukla, sales manager, Prabhat Prakashan said: “The youth are the readers in the present day. Now, they do not limit themselves to novels or love stories. The readers ask for motivational, autobiographical, biographical, fictional and poetry books. There has been almost more than 25 per cent increase in sales,” said Shukla.
Many of the bookstalls ran out of stock as well. “Maa, a book by Munnawar Rana and Lajja by Taslima Nasreen are out of stock,” said Atul of Vani Prakashan. Apart from bookstalls, miscellaneous stalls were a great hit. A spoken English course stall provided by the British Council was a huge draw. The stall was technically equipped with digital learning products.
“The response of the people is great. They are more open to face-to-face classes rather than online ones. Apart from spoken classes, we have included courses for teachers. We have a separate teacher corner for their training, workshops, competitions, conferences, fellowships and awards. Our online products include online library memberships,” said Joydeep Bordoloi, senior project manager, British Council, Bihar.
The fair lacked books in regional languages, including Bhojpuri and Maithili. “This year the Sahitya Academy has not put up its stall. This is the reason that booklovers could not find books in those languages,” said Ratneshwar.