Few takers for Pune Book Fair, organisers blame location

This local bibliophile paradise is fast losing its sheen. Pune Book Fair 2010 wears a bereft look, with visitors having dwindled to a stark few and stall owners sporting forlorn looks. Tucked away in a corner at Kamayani School grounds in Patrakar Nagar, the event that started on October 20 and will go on till October 24, is a veritable store-house of books relating to all possible genres - science, literature, philosophy, culture, photography, magazines and scriptures. Language booksó Hindi, English, Marathi and even Sanskritó are also available in readiness at the venue. But the first three days have seen disappointing response from Puneites.

"We especially selected and brought Sanskrit books for the event as we have many students from here sending orders to Delhi for them. But in the past three days, the demand has been close to zilch. Visitors are very few. It is quite understandable as the publicity was so slack. None of the colleges are even aware of the event. How are the students supposed to make the best of this chance then?" says Ramesh Chauhan of Delhi's Kanak Book Distributors.

Seventy publishers and book-sellers have erected stalls this year, with over one lakh books on display. Apart from Indian book-sellers, some foreign visitors have added good hardbound colours to the paperback racks.

Sumama Faisal, a research associate with the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, New Delhi, is running the Saudi Arabian book stall at the fair. "This is our first year in Pune, and our stall is about cultural exchange and not commerce. We have Quran translations in 40 languages and also books about Saudi culture and business. We want to spread more awareness about our culture among the city folk," he said.

Mohammad Dabiri, who mans the Iranian stall, said, "We have been coming here for the past three years, but this year has been so uninspiring. The number of visitors are negligible. We too are here to befriend and educate, but I believe there are reservations about our religion. The marketing of the event has been inadequate."

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