The recently-concluded fair saw a 20 per cent rise in visitors when compared to last year. Express Photo: Srinivas K
Following a successful 13-day run, the 43rd edition of the Chennai Book Fair concluded after Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam led the valedictory function of the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) at YMCA Grounds in Chennai’s Nandanam on Tuesday.
Publishers, who had completed 25 years in the industry, were felicitated during the closing ceremony.
“We had a 20 per cent increase in the footfall this year when compared to last year, with more than 13 lakh people having visited the Chennai Book Fair from January 9 to 21," R S Shanmugam, the president of BAPASI told IndianExpress.com.
This year, the fair had publishers displaying books covering 12 lakh topics in close to 800 stalls.
“A lot of people purchased books for children relating to science. Besides kids books, the most sought-after topics were agriculture, organic farming, nature, time management and books which were displayed by the Tamil Nadu textbook corporation," said Shamugam.
Chennai Book Fair, which is popular for regional books, saw readers purchasing many books in Tamil this year. Despite facing stiff competition from online reading platforms, the president said that the publishers had sold books worth a whopping Rs. 20 crore during the fair out of 2 crore books which were displayed.
Visitors to the book fair were treated to a sand sculpture of Thiruvalluvar which had been designed by artist Sudarshan Patnaik. Photo by: BAPASI
“Every year, we publishers have observed that women visiting the fair usually purchase books on topics such as cooking and beauty. This year, women bought books covering history. We have also noticed that women always purchase books pertaining to a particular topic during the fair," said the president.
While bibliophiles made a bee-line to the books at various stalls, the highlight of the fair was undoubtedly the exhibition on the recent Keeladi excavations. The 3000-square-feet exhibition had displayed replicas of the Keeladi findings in coordination with the Department of Archaeology.
“Visitors to the fair also enjoyed the sand sculpture of Thiruvalluvar which had been created by Sudarshan Patnaik, a sand artist from Orissa," said Shanmugam. “Eluthalar Mutram (Writer’s Corner), was successful as well, with eminent authors interacting with visitors during the fair," he said.
Besides books, the Chennai Book Fair had also screened documentaries and short films centered on books and social themes at an auditorium within the premises.
The 3000-square-feet exhibition on Keeladi findings was a crowd-puller during the 13-day fair. Photo by: BAPASI
Keeping in mind the large crowds, BAPASI had kept several ATMs, seating areas, portable toilets and drinking water facilities at vantage points to help cater to the basic needs of visitors during the fair.
While the organisers had gone out of their way to ensure that bibliophiles had a memorable time during the fair, a few visitors to the fair said that they had a difficult time navigating around the stalls since the numbering system had been changed.
“Every year, the fair had boards placed at each entrance detailing the location of the stalls. This year, there was only one digital board with the details, which proved to be confusing," said Santhi, a visitor who has been regular to the fair for the past 20 years.
Thangaleela, a schoolteacher who has been visiting the Chennai Book Fair for the past 6 years appreciated the number of stalls that had been put up for children this year. “Many stalls had books for children which I really liked. However, the same entry and exit points in the parking area proved to be huge problem during the fair," she said.