Tag Archives: library

Notes from Chennai Book Fair – good initiative but not well organized

20 Jan

3 days before the Chennai Book Fair got over I visited the place – Venue : St George Anglo Indian School , Poonamalle High Road . It would have been criminal had I not gone for the fair. I am a book worm, an aficionado of books and above all I just love spending time with them- looking or reading.It was the 32nd annual Chennai Book Fair and i have been visiting it religiously for 6 years now .

I may break this ritual from next year!

It is not that book fair was a failure. It was by all accounts a resounding success . The citizens of Chennai should be proud to host such a prestigious event. I am proud of it. I am a citizen here. Lived here all my life.

But the thing is of the rows and rows of book stalls i visited ( for about 3 and half hours) I just couldn’t find a single stall where i wanted buy a book. Sure the books were all there. But then I would also find the same books in a Landmark or Crossword bookstore. Save for the 10% discount offered there was nothing special in the fair. Absolutely nothing !

So why then do I need the Chennai Book fair ?

But here are the key insights which you may find very interesting :

  • More people visited the cafeterias to eat samosa, popcorn’s, cone ice creams and soups than the book stalls.
  • Those who did visit the stalls spent more time ,again, eating out Sri Krishan Sweets and less time at the stalls.
  • The book fair is a heaven for people who are read Tamil books. Less interesting for people like me who love to buy books which are otherwise hard to find in the regular book stores.
  • It was an ideal place for parents to buy books for their kids. Just wish that they had used the stalls properly instead of herding the kids to eat at food stalls.
  • It was badly organized.

Ideas for the organizers :

  • There should be a cap to the number of stalls : I visited close to 400 stalls. No wonder people dint find it interesting. By the time they reached the 50 stall they would have walked around a lot, got tired, thirsty, hungry and bored to death. It then kills the purpose of the fair .
  • Ban food stalls inside the stall: It is insulting to see people sit in a corner with their kids clamouring around drinking tea/coffee and eating samosa. I dont blame them. The attention span of kids is like 1o min or thereabouts. You cant expect them to drag their parents to visit the stalls when their eyes feat on delcious loking straberry ice creams? If one kid sees another of his brethren enjoying a popcorn or samosa, you know what is gonin to happen next.
  • Segment the stalls into different verticals :  All the books stalls were packed like cards. Shuffled around and completely disorganized. If I wanted to find a English book stall I dont want to walk around 30 minutes before I found one. It pisses me off ! I would like the organizers to segment the book stalls in some order. English, Tamil , Kids Corner, Spiritualism . This is just an example. It could be in some order. Any order ! Just make it easy for me to find the stall relevant to me . Thats all
  • Dont give permisson to every food seller in town to open shop in the fair : I saw people who had opened mobile kiosks to sell –  Groundnuts, Cup noodles, ice creams.. blah blah… What the hell ? I am sure someone in the goverment made tons of moeny sigining permissions to open stalls like that .I am at the fair to buy books, maybe drink or eat something . I am not at the fair to indulge in eating! Jeez!

But here is something what I really liked :

Opposite to the school I saw roadside book sellers hawking duplicate copies of the same books which I found inside the fair. They were selling ” Imagining India” by Nandan Nilekani for Rs 120 ( MRP : Rs 700), ” Hot, Flat and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman for Rs 140 ( MRP : Rs 500) which i bargained it to Rs 100, just for the kick of it.  Almost all the latest books released in the market today has found its way into the hands of these roadside books sellers – all duplicate copies.One guy actually gave his visting card and asked me to contact him later for I had asked him for old copies of HBR. The guy even had a website . How cool is that ?

But here I found old , original copies of “Arms and the Man” by Bernard Shaw, “Future shock” by Alvin Toffller, “The Blind Assasin”  by Margret Attwood, ” For whom the Bell tolls” by Ernest hemingway, ” A thousand Splendid Suns” by Dominique Lappiere and Larry Collins, ” As a man thinketh” by James Allen, ” The Road less traveled” M Scott Peck, ” Short Stories” by Anton Chekov and scores of other original , old copies of classics. I bought most of them. I spent close to Rs 500 and bought more than 70 books . Not a  single duplicate copy . All the books I bought were priced around Rs 10, Rs 20 and Rs 40.  I even saw an original copy of ” Build to Last” by Jim Collins priced at Rs 60. I dint buy it because I already had a copy  bought a year ago for Rs 300.  You get the drift, dont you ?

The point is :

  • Why dint I find a single second-hand book shop at the fair selling old, original editions of  the classics?
  • How come the police allowed these people to sell printed,duplicate books right opposite to the fair ?
  • I thought more books were bought at the roadside stalls than what was actually sold inside the book fair .

The Chennai Book Fair is a great event . I did find some good stalls like – British Council Library, The American Library , Krishnamachari Yoga Mandiram, Isha Yoga, Art of Living, Osho etc. They were very focused on what they were selling to the customers. People knew what to expect in the stall unlike other publishers trying to sell almost all books and titles under one stall. It just creates too much of confusion and also very time consuming for the consumers.

The Bristish Council and American Library were promoting memberships at discounted rates. They dint need the money . They were just promoting and encouraging people to read good and more books. Ironically, I saw very little walk-ins to these stalls.

By the way , I did eat “Bread bajji” and ” potato bajji” inside the stall . Damn it !  🙂

PG Wodehouse books at dirt cheap rates

13 Dec

How many of you guys are real PG Wodehouse buff like me ? If you fall into this category then i am quiet sure you read Wodehouse books either from British council, school/college library or private library. You actually dint buy one cos it was too costly . Somehwere in 250-350 range,right ? 
Not anymore. Check out the PG Wodehouse books available at Landmark book stores in India. You now get PG Wodehouse books for Rs 100 bucks . Aint that cool ?

 

So go ahead and stock up your library shelves with Jeevs and Blandings castle stories ..