The 46th edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair recorded sales worth more than Rs 25 crore, two crore more than last year, the organisers said on Sunday, the last day of this year’s fair.
The average daily footfall — around 2 lakh — was more than twice than what was recorded in the last pre-Covid fair in 2020.
Tridip Chatterjee, secretary of the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, which organises the Kolkata Book Fair, said the “encouraging” sales figures indicated that book lovers are still loyal to the printed format, instead of opting to read the content on devices such as e-book readers or smart phones.
“The fair is a testimony to the fact that the printed form of books, magazines and newsletters are still the number one choice for readers. It is true that the digital format has secured a foothold, but the number of visitors to the fair and the sales clearly indicate that the printed word is here to stay,” said Chatterjee.
The fairground — Central Park in northeast Kolkata’s Salt Lake — was a sea of heads on Sunday. Snaking queues were spotted outside most stalls.
Some stalls had to deploy men at the gates to regulate the number of visitors stepping in.
Apart from rushing to pick up titles of their choice on the last day of the fair, book lovers used the opportunity to catch up with old friends.
Actress Amrita Chattopadhyay was at the fair with her father on Sunday. “I make it a point to visit the Book Fair every year. This year I could only manage it on the last day as I was shooting outside the city,” she said.
Ahana Mondal and Prakriti Palit, who visited the fair every day, was at Central Park on Sunday, too. They were carrying a large bag of books and hopping from one stall to another.
“Both of us love books. I want to pick up a copy of Roads to New Delhi by Ruskin Bond after we picking up the Bengali titles on our list,” said Mondal, who is pursuing an undergraduate course in business management.
The food stalls and those selling trinkets and T-shifts did brisk business, too, on Sunday. Almost every stall selling food and trinkets had people waiting to get their orders.
The fair this year recorded an average daily footfall of more than 2 lakh.
In 2021, the daily average stood at 90,000. In 2020, the last pre-pandemic fair, the daily average was 84,000. In 2021, the fair was not held because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Guild officials said the sales had touched Rs 10 crore and the footfall 24 lakh in 2006, when the fair was last held on the Maidan.
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. The trend, however, started improving and this year’s sales figures buoyed publishers of every size as well as the fair organisers.
“The footfall has been steadily picking up over the years.... This year we increased the number of stalls to around 900. Everyone — big and small publishers and little magazines — has done good business. For many, the sales at the fair play a big part in financing their business for the rest of the year,” Chatterjee said.