Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Delhi Book Fair 2014

I love being with books. This is one of the reasons I love book fairs. The recent, New Delhi Book Fair, was not as big as the one held in February, New Delhi World Book Fair. It doesn’t matter, as long as there are all those small stalls selling books at a discounted price of Rs 100 and Rs 50, and as long as I have some cash in my pocket, I am happy. At the recent book fair, which concluded on August 31, both were there. There were stalls which were selling three books for Rs 100. Can you imagine getting The Hobbit, The Remains of the Day and an Ian Rankin novel together for Rs 100? I did. I actually got so many other books, total 169, during my trip to the fair almost every day of the week.

It’s mighty fun, and it’s chore too. First, the books are not arranged, they are just dumped, like cheap vegetables during the season. You have to really get close, leaf through each and every copy, and find your treasure, and what treasures, Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum for Rs 100. Ditto Will Self’s hard cover edition of Umbrella. Did I mention, books with author’s signature? I got a copy of The Tiger Claw (2004) by Shauna Singh Baldwin, with her signature, dedicated to some woman, who must have thoughtlessly sold it to raddi. Sad.

And there were so many books with so many authors I have never heard about, no, not the authors like Mayer and the authors of that Gray book, but authors who were not in my horizon at all, like Jodi Picoult. I had to run a Wikipedia search to find out who she was, and apparently she is very popular.

I wonder from where these books come. They are not just books left unsold in a bookshop. I picked up book signed by some reader in England, books with Oxfam sticker, a book with a used British Airways ticket from Manchester to Landon. The traveller was reading Ian Rankin’s Hide & Seek. Mind you, all those books selling for Rs 50 or Rs 100 are foreign imprints, not India, except when they are Indian books.

I wonder where they get the books. I asked the boy in one of the stores. He does not know. He was hired to man the store for the duration of the fair. Why am I so concerned? Perhaps I want to go to the source, and find more books. When it comes to books, enough is never enough.

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