Shimla: To grab eyeballs from television viewing and gaming culture and to encourage them, particularly young minds, to read more, National Book Trust (NBT) plans to open up book promotion centres, is tying up with post offices to sell books and is constantly on the move, holding book fairs across the country, top officials of the organization stated here today.
A day before opening of a week long book fair here, MA Sikandar, director National Book Trust, said, “shortage of space has forced us to only display books from 32 publishers whereas more than 50 of them had shown interest in setting up stalls here at Shimla.”
He denied that sale of books was declining. “Actually physical book sales have increased,” said Sikandar.
He added that footfalls at NBT book fairs were increasing year after year. “Novel reading was on the decline and the growing interest was in biographies,” he said.
The trust that works directly under the Human Resource Development ministry, after setting up a book promotion centre at Chennai has drawn up plans to open similar stores at Agartala, Guwahati, Hydeerabad and Patna before expanding to other cities.
e-Commerce giant Amazon.com only recently approached us for selling NBT publications through online sales, Sikandar disclosed.
Having tied up with Department of Posts for selling books through post offices in Uttarakhand, the director of NBT said that to improve availability of books, a similar pilot project would be explored for Himachal Pradesh also.
With e-books gaining in popularity, the trust has also ventured into e-publishing. “Mainly to cater to the demand of Indian Diaspora, we are making available about 500 titles in e-book format, said Sikandar.
For Himachal this would be the second book fair of the year as the organizers have already held on at Mandi in May.
Foraying to reprinting old books that do not involve any copyright infringements, Sikandar said that NBT was talking to Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla for publishing European travelers accounts of India. Many of these reprints published by many private publishing houses are highly priced.
The weeklong book fair would be inaugurated at the historic Gaiety Theater by chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Monday and would wind up on 6 July.
During the week, talks and interactive sessions with writers, mainly local ones have been scheduled.
On 2nd July, the organizers have also scheduled to release ‘Flowerwoods Hotel’ a short story book by Shimla based writer Raaja Bhasin, who is well known for his non-fiction and travel writing.
The NBT publication, “is a collection of 5 short stories,” Bhasin let Hill Post know.