| A girl plays with a toy rocket launcher as a boy watches from horseback on a patch of the Maidan that would have been sealed off for Book Fair 2007 had the high court not prevented it. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, Feb. 3: Faced with a space crunch and the disappointment of publishers with the change of venue, the Publishers and Booksellers Guild has offered to return the money to those not keen on the new setting for Book Fair 2007 — Salt Lake Stadium.
While there have been last-minute cancellations in the past, this is the first time that the Guild has agreed on such a move.
“We’ve decided that a publisher or bookseller opting out because of the change of venue would get back the entire amount (paid for a stall on the Maidan),” Guild secretary Tridib Chatterjee said.
“It is a reality that we would have to make concessions in terms of stall-size to accommodate all in the new venue at Salt Lake Stadium and at the end of the day, there might be some sense of disappointment. But we are committed to offer the best in the given set-up,” he added.
The Guild’s chief architect, Sovan Bannerjee, went to the stadium today and held several rounds of meetings with Bhola Nath Nandy, the assistant administrative officer in charge of the stadium, to finalise the layout of the stalls and the pavilions.
Guild members are scheduled to meet top officials of the Bidhannagar municipality and North 24-Parganas police tomorrow. The meeting would finalise the layout, which is mandatory for the authorities to issue their clearance for the fair.
The Book Fair was thrown out of the Maidan for causing irrepairable damage to Calcutta’s lungs. While ordering the banishment, the high court had rapped government agencies that gave their nod to the fair on the Maidan in “hot haste”.
Amid the clamour from some publishers and booksellers against the alternative site, the Guild has decided to rope in more foreigners for this year’s fair. Iran is one of those last-minute entries.
“Representatives of Australia, China and even some publishers from Delhi and Mumbai are not ready to stay back after 11th because of logistical problems,” a Guild member said.
“In the course of finalising the blueprint, we would also decide on the size of the stalls and this can leave some unhappy. We are handicapped. But the Calcutta Book Fair is a brand and the passion of book lovers our greatest asset,” said Sudhangshu Dey, the ground convener.
As part of a renewed drive to woo visitors to the new venue, the Guild members have proposed that those trooping into the stadium for the India-Myanmar football match on February 14 be allowed to enter the book fair with the same ticket. .