The 45th edition of International Kolkata Book Fair recorded its biggest sales of more than Rs 23 crore since the fair started in 1976, the organisers said on Sunday, the last day of this year’s fair.
“We couldn’t have hoped for a better response. The sales this year crossed Rs 23 crore. In 2020, the sales touched Rs 20 crore. Over the years, the fair has never witnessed such an unprecedented sale of books,” said Tridib Chatterjee, secretary of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, organisers of the annual event, which could not be held last year because of Covid.
“This is the highest sales figure since the fair started in 1976.”
Sudhangshu Sekhar Dey, president of the Guild, spoke of two ‘possible reasons’ for the unprecedented sales.
“First, the fair comes after a gap of a year. People who have been waiting to flip over new titles seized on the opportunity as the curtains went up. Secondly, many who had been buying books online for the last two years desperately wanted to have a feel of the physical ones before buying.”
The daily average footfall in this year’s fair was around 90,000, nearly 6,000 more than 2020. Guild officials said the sales touched Rs 10 crore and the footfall 24 lakh in 2006, when the fair was held on the Maidan for the last time.
Next year, when the fair shifted to the Salt Lake stadium, the footfall and the sales both dropped. Around 13 lakh people visited the fair and books worth Rs 9 crore were sold.
“Sales and footfall both have been picking up gradually since the fair shifted to the Central Park in Salt Lake in 2018. From Rs 16-crore worth of business in 2018, we have reached Rs 23 crore in 2022,” Chatterjee said.
On the closing day of the fair, several medium and big publishers said they were overwhelmed by the response in terms of footfall and sales.
The success came as a shot in the arm for a large majority of the publishers who said they were reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
A few participants said they had borrowed money to set up stalls with the hope that the 13-day fair would help them tide over the financial slump.
And it did.
“We had some apprehensions about the turnout. But at the end of it we are more than hopeful that the love for books has not taken a hit,” said Esha Chatterjee, CEO of Bee Books.
“A large majority of the buyers is from the below-40 age group and that is so comforting for all publishers.”
The 46th edition of the book fair will be held around end-January next year and the theme country will be Spain, Guild officials said.