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World Book Fair ends on positive business note

New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) The World Book Fair 2013 ended here Sunday on an optimistic note that publishing industry's fortunes in India were on a roll despite the global economic uncertainty.

Pragati Maidan, the sprawling venue of the fair that turned into an annual event this year from its biannual status of last 41 years, was a throng of visitors whose numbers kept surging since morning.

Nearly 1,100 exhibitors from 28 countries showed books in every category in 2,100 stands.

The fair's theme was indigenous and folk literature that reached out to people through an ethnic books corner and and an art exhibition.

The National Book Trust (NBT), which hosts the event with India Trade Promotion Organisation, brought the Sangeet Natak Akademi on board to host a tribal and folk performance festival.

France was the guest country with a pavilion of 200 titles, launches, symposiums and business sessions.

A NBT official Saturday said the number of footfall had crossed 75,000.

Citing early estimates, the official said, nearly 200,000 people visited the fair this year, in a rise from 150,000 last year despite the rain playing spoilsport on the first two days.

This year, the fair went out of its way to push business opportunities -- its primary focus -- with two important B2B events, a New Delhi Rights Table and CEOSpeak where Indian and foreign publishers discussed trade and exchanged ideas.

"We made the fair an annual event this year so that it matches international standards. There were two big B2B events -- a New Delhi rights table where 50 Indian publishers met 11 foreign publishers. Several Indian language rights (of books) were sold in the domestic market and a few in the foreign markets. Indian books will now be translated in foreign languages under a new policy," NBT director M.A. Sikander said.

"Despite the modest budget, the trust tried to give the fair the interactive feel of a literary meet with five authors' corner where at 150 writers met readers and signed books," he told reporters.

At least 50 literary events accompanied the business of publishing to present a holistic picture of the industry, he said.

"We're trying to integrate with civil society in more engaging ways. I'm in talks with chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education and commissioner of the Kendriya Vidyalayas to include a visit to the fair in the school curriculum," Sikander said.

He said he was trying to generate private resources for next year's fair to reduce the burden on the government.

The fair was more people and media-friendly this year with civic services such as shuttles to ferry tourists around the halls covering nearly 45,000 square metres and instant information for the national and international media.

Commenting on the buying and reading trend, Manish G. Gupta, managing director, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, said: "The crowd spent more money on foreign publications".

"Indian people were earlier comfortable buying Indian books worth Rs.100-Rs.200 but now they're willing to shell out Rs.700-Rs.1,500 for serious books such as Indian reprints of Routledge classics on social sciences, politics and core literature," Gupta told IANS.

Atlantic has published 150 titles of Routledge classics at special

Indian prices.

Sunil Kapoor, director, Cosmo Publications, said "reading as a habit was making a revival and pushing sales".

"Parents want their children to read books contrary to fear that the Internet and television will affect reading habits. The printed word will stay forever," said Kapoor.

His company, which holds rights to American titles worldwide, exports American books back to the United States.

At the World Book Fair next year from Feb 15-23, Poland will be the guest country.

Indo Asian News Service

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