Make New Delhi Book Fair annual event: organisers


New Delhi: The New Delhi World Book Fair should be made an annual event, the organisers demanded Thursday.

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High rentals, sales tax and a fund crunch – the National Book Trust (NBT), which is set to organise the 19th edition of the book fair Jan 30-Feb 7, is facing numerous challenges to keep up a tradition that aims at boosting the habit of reading.

“The New Delhi World Book Fair happens once every two years (though) this is probably the second or third biggest book fair in the world. Every other major book fair – in Beijing or Frankfurt – happen every year,” NBT chairman Bipan Chandra told reporters here.

“We have written to the human resource development ministry that the fair should be organised every year. We would need a grant of Rs.1,800-1,900 crore to make that happen. Now we get much less than that,” he said.

The upcoming fair will draw almost 1,200 Indian and foreign publishers. The special focus will be books on sports in India since the Commonwealth Games are set to take place here Oct 3-14.

“It’s unfair to impose sales tax on book fairs,” he said, adding this was introduced last year. “We have appealled to the finance minister to exempt all book fairs from being taxed.”

“Why are we saying this? Because we give heavy subsidies to publishers in book fairs. For Hindi and other Indian languages publishers, we give 50 percent subsidy.”

Bipan Chandra also said the NBT was facing a fund crunch organising the fair, which draws hundreds of thousands of people from Delhi and nearby towns.

He said the rentals charged by the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which owns the Pragati Maidan ground where the fair is held, had gone up.

“As a result of all these financial hindrances, the subsidy we give to publishers is becoming prohibitive. Thus, some publishers are unable to participate in the fair.”

Despite increasing book prices, the NBT saw a 70 percent increase in business in 2008 fair.

“We are expecting a big boost in the business this time,” added NBT director Nuzhat Hassan.