Kochi, Feb 1: Noted writer Jaishree Misra today said international publishers were eyeing the growing Indian market as there was an alarming shrinkage in the reading population of the US and the UK.
Addressing a gathering after jointly inaugurating the 4th DC International Book Fair with ace actor Mohanlal here, Ms Misra said ''The reading population in the US and UK was shrinking at an alarming rate as people had a wider choice with the influx of IT and related products.'' According to a recent survey, a majority of children in the age group of eight and nine could not read and this 'illiteracy' had forced the foreign publishers to tap the huge potential of the Indian market where the reading population was steadily increasing, Ms Misra, who is based in the UK, said.
She said most of the international publishers have opened their offices in the country and trend would augur well for readers in the future.
Referring to the controversies shrouding writer Taslima Nasreen and on freedom of expression for writers, Ms Misra said the right was not absolute and there was a need to strike a balance between the responsibilities and the rights.
However, she said the writers had the right to 'offend', but the definition of 'offence' was vague and amorphous.
Ms Misra, whose works include 'Ancient Promises', 'Accidents Like Love and Marriage', 'Afterwards', 'The Little Book of Romance' and the recent book 'Rani' said, ''The writer would be unmindful that his/her work would offend certain people and there were chances that people with vested interests might get offended,'' she noted.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mohanlal, whose book 'Rithumarmarangal' was released, said it was a compilation of the thoughts that passed through his mind.
He asserted the importance of cultivating reading habit as it helped a person to know the culture of a land.
Film Director Satyan Anthikad's book ' Grameenar' was also released on the occasion in which Malayalam short story writer, T Padmanabhan was also present.
In the 11-day book fair, around 100 national and international publishers would participate, where more than ten lakh books would be displayed.