World Book fair registers thin attendance

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New Delhi, Feb 6 (UNI) The 18th World Book Fair has so far failed to tickle bookworms with the biennial event experiencing a turnout of less than 2,00,000 till yesterday.

Even melodious Russian music, 'Nukkad Nataks' (street plays) for children and books on Tolstoy and Gandhi have not been able to spice up the nine-day event as many visitors are finding the Rs 10 entry fee a bit too much to shell out.

According to several visitors, the low attendance was the result of entry fee being charged from the visitors. ''Many of those visiting the fair are students, who find it difficult to spend money on entry tickets,'' Kinjal Sharma, a 12-year-old student, visiting the book fair, said.

ITPO Senior General Manager Safdar H Khan said, ''The footfall has been less than two lakhs due to the extreme cold weather being witnessed at this time of the month.

''Contrary to past years, this February is unusually cold and it is restricting people from venturing out. Yesterday's rain played spoilsport for many,'' a visitor said.

There are many who believe that reading habit is receding due to fast and busy lifestyles that people follow, leaving them no time to read.

Publishing houses, however, blamed the organisers for failing to raise awareness on the biennial book fair.

''There are no advertisements in the newspapers, banners and hoardings about the fair can be seen. As a result, even people involved in printing and publishing are not aware about the book fair,'' Shobit Arya of Wisom Tree said.

''The recent Auto Expo and Trade Fair involved fierce advertising with metro stations, print and electronic media and government involved in spreading the word. Book Fair, however, has witnessed very less attention from all corners,'' the participants observed.

''The 2006 book Fair had attracted a lot of attention from people and other business houses. This year, we are yet to see business to business activities happening,'' ILO Communication&Information Officer Neelam Agnihotri said, hoping a better response in coming days.

Publishers invest a lot of money for the entire fair but organisers make little contribution for the benefit of visitors and participants, Young Angels CEO Vani Mehra said.

''The stalls were allotted to us just two days before the event.

Thus we were not able to make proper arrangements to attract visitors. The World Book Fairs are organised mainly for trade purposes but there very less foreigners coming for business,'' she added.

Even the food and sanitation cannot compete book fairs happening worldwide, Dreamland publications CEO Ved Chawla said.

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