Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good experience at Bangalore Book Festival 2012

As a Mumbaikar who loves books, the nearest I'd come to book exhibitions/festivals was the annual strand sale, but even that was a single retailer. Hence, when I noticed the ad of the Bangalore book festival at Palace Grounds, Mekhri Circle; I jumped at the chance to attend one, especially given its timing at the fag end of my stay here in Bangalore.  The fair's description as reported in the Hindu stated that This year, over a million books and 50 renowned writers will converge at the festival, which will boast 307 stalls, lakhs of book titles and books in all languages, promised the organisers, at a press conference held here on Thursday. This list includes about 90 Kannada publishers, 150 English publishers, other regional language publishers, developers of book apps and e-books, book portals and online book sellers. By the time I'd come, all the writers had come and gone, and the number of stalls had drastically fallen, but still it was a good experience.
  1. Entry fee @ Rs 20(as I'm not a student or teacher) was reasonable
  2. F&B arrangements were decent inside(only veg though) and conveniently located
  3. The prime spaces were taken by online portals/children's books-a lead indicator of the things to come? I've felt before that the most profitable portions of the publishing industry would be online book retailers(due to lesser real estate/stocking costs) and children's books(as otherwise rational parents want only the 'best' for their kids, and are unlikely to use pirated/ebook versions). 
  4. Several Indian publishers like Jaico, Pustak Mahal, Orient-Longman, National Book Trust were present, but surprisingly, Rupa was not there. Very few foreign publishers present though
  5. Several niche publishers were there like those focussing on tantra, Hindu literature, Ramkrishnan Mission, Islamic books, leftist literature, which gave a good overview on stuff not usually found in book stores. Even browsing them stimulates the mind.
  6. Some magazine publishers like OPEN, Week, Network18 were present. I picked up a 1 year subscription to OPEN magazine for Rs 649, versus the market price of Rs 1045. Given the stellar content of the magazine(and a cover price of Rs 35, versus the effective per copy price of Rs 13 for being couriered to my office), its worth it.
  7. Many stalls were of retailers, who played the price/bargain game like 1 book Rs 50/99, Rs 100 for 3books and so on. So much so, that the organizers were repeatedly playing announcements requesting the stalls to remove the prominently displayed price tags!! Given that we Indians are suckers for bargains, its not surprising that this strategy worked!I picked up a Shobha De book for Rs 100(Super Star India), and an old Readers Digest adbridged classics set for Rs 49(this was my best bargain from the entire thing). I also picked up some books from the National Book Trust.
  8. Some stalls however, were not related to books at all, for example a stall of educational software for MS Office, Coding etc, devotional music and so on.
  9. An interesting feature was the number of stalls focussing on book lending libraries, as well as sites like homeship18. They were prominently there.
Overall, the book fair did meet the criteria of serendipity( while the deep discounting did help convert some selections into buys. Would certainly attend another one if held next year.