Amidst the huge rush at the stalls of prominent publishing houses like Penguin and Harper Collins in English or Rajkamal Publications or Ved Prakashan in Hindi at the World Book Fair, regional publishers are battling to pull the crowds to their stalls.
This has seen the participation of more than 800 publishers. There are around 30 regional publishers, lower than previous years. But even on the seventh day of the annual event on Friday, the the stalls of the regional publishers wore an empty look.
"We have been putting our stall every year but this year it's a flop show for us. Despite being a book fair of international standards, there is no promotion of publishers who are coming from other states," Prabir Maishan of Paschim Banga Prakashak Sabha told IANS.
Even though Delhi is home to people coming from different communities, the publishers said they don't visit the book fair because they remain ignorant of the existence of regional publishers.
"You will find hoardings or promotion of big brands. They can afford to do so but we can't. This is a government sponsored event yet the organisers take no initiative to promote our stalls. The organiser's duty is just to hold this event; the rest they are not bothered about. Moreover, there is no shadow of demonitisation this time unlike last year, which was a major setback," Maishan added.
Vipin Babu of Kerala's National Book Stall also expressed his disappointment over the deserted scenario.
"There is quite a notable Malayali population living here but hardly anyone comes. It is more for the residents of the national capital. Only those who are frequent to the book fair are aware of the existence of our stalls," he said.
Niranjan of Navyug Publisher, that brings out books in Punjabi, said that though there is a huge Punjabi population residing in Delhi, they are loath to reading books in their mother tongue.
"Now-a-days, the younger generation is more into learning English; they are not even keen on learning Hindi so forget about Punjabi. Only the middleaged or senior people visit us but in very samll numbers," he stated.
Most of the regional stalls have been put up by representatives of state-run publishing houses or universities who have to pay comparatively than the private publishers.
"The organisers are increasing the rent of the stalls every year. The solo publishers cannot afford this. Forget profits, it even becomes difficult to make up the cost of the stall. Yesterday, we sold only one book for Rs 100. So, we cannot even think of making a profit," Pratap S, who didn't wish who he is representing, commented.
Even bibliophiles who came to the fair with much expectations expressed their disappointment over what was on offer.
"Ever since the book fair has turned into an annual affair, it has lost its appeal. It is more or less the same books I find every year. I was looking for some books in Sanskrit but was disappointed to see that only two stalls at the fair," Ved Prakash Mishra, a businessman, pointed out.
However, for some visitors, the regional stalls were quite a relief. For Shinjini Ghosh who came from Noida, the book fair gave her the chance to flip through the pages of some Bengali books.
"I don't get a chance to visit Kolkata very frequently and neither do I stay at CR Park. So here I came across books written by some of my favourite authors," she mentioned before buying a copy of Satyajit Ray's "Feluda".
The 26th World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan and organised by the National Book Trust (NBT) in association with ITPO, will end on January 14.
(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)