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2nd Urdu Book Fair a big disappointment
By Our Own Correspondent

New Delhi: Are we ready to sacrifice even small things for causes that we believe are close to our hearts? The experience shows that we never do anything other than just making tall claims of all sorts. There are numerous examples and the latest one is 2nd Urdu Book Fair.

Urdu, someone from outside the community will believe is very near to heart and we have been making tall claims of preserving the language in inhospitable terrain. But have we really done anything? I mean anything other than making tall claims of our love for it, the sweet and melodious language of Firaq, Mir and Ghalib.

More than seventy-five publishers who participated in the Urdu Book Fair organized by the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language in a ground overlooking the imposing Red Fort were heart broken when they left after the fair closed on the night of 11 November. The seven day long fair was a big jolt to even promoters who had organized the fair. Though they wouldn’t admit it and say that the success of the fair should be seen in the participation of more publishers than the last year and not just in sales. They also say that the publishers come here for getting publicity and not for sale.

The increased number of participants from publishers should be seen as the result of some hard work by the organizers and also the great success of the first Urdu book fair. In the first Urdu Book Fair sixty four publishers from around the country came to participate. Their number this time went up to 76. But sales figures went disappointingly low. It is believed that last time sales were in the range of Rs 20-25 lakh that receded drastically to around half this time.

It has made the publishers jittery. Most of the publishers said that they were unable to even cover their costs of paying rent for their stalls during the week-long fair and the expenses on bringing the books from far off places and their stay in Delhi. A disappointed publisher from Rampur who had come to the fair with hopes of last year’s brisk business told this correspondent that his whole exercise of coming in the fair has proved a futile affair. He said that last year not only people came and purchased books but also ordered books to be delivered later. But there were no orders as well as no one purchasing books from his stall.

Volunteers from Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy stalls were more disappointed than him. A volunteer told this correspondent that UP Urdu Academy sells books on very subsidized rates and books and collections of leading Urdu poets are available at down to earth price, but then too we remained waiting for customers. The Urdu publishers give heavy discounts in book fair ranging from 20 percent to fifty percent. But this heavy discount too couldn’t lure the Urdu lovers towards it.

Hasanul Banna of Idara Ihyaye Deen says that people’s response was very cold. He said that there were not many visitors this time in the book fair. But he says that though sales were not very good but response of people was very warm and he expects some good orders from people who visited his book stall.

Even last year the business in the fair was initially not very good. But it picked up later. This time the spirit and sales dampened with every passing day. There were not many people either visiting the fair to see books. The ratio of people who visited the fair seems to have gone down heavily.

It is certain that next time when the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language decides to organize similar fair, it will have to give some concrete assurance to convince publishers that it is worth it.

Though the fair might have been a failure due to fall in sales and people’s response, but it was ideal that can be expected. Books on a wide range of topics were available on heavy discount and gave buyers hard time to refuse buying a book that he had been thinking for long. It is really great to see books on shelves we have been thinking about.
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