The book exhibition was held from Friday to Sunday in the town hall. It was jointly organized by the Education Department and a local book shop. On the very first day, I walked over to visit the exhibition immediately after school was over.
There were already many people at the exhibition. Most were school children like me.
The good thing about exhibitions is that usually there are free gifts and items on offer. This exhibition was no different. At a counter near the entrance, I registered to be a member of the book shop and I received a small calculator as a gift.
Inside the hall proper, I was amazed by the number of books on display. There were books on computers, science, technology, music, cookery, travel, business, self-help and general interests. Other types of publications include encyclopaedias, maps, novels, greeting cards, magazines and children's books. Also available were computer software, compact discs and other items published in electronic media. The town hall was fairly large yet every bit of space was made use of to display the items. Most of the items were arranged in shelves or on tables.
I noticed that there was a crowd over at a corner. So I ventured closer to have a look. As expected, items were on offer there. No wonder there were so many people. Slowly I inched my way into the crowd to look at the items.
After looking though the items, I purchased a CD entitled "Our Solar System and Beyond". It was a good buy.
Next I moved on to less crowded areas and look at the books. There were many that I would love to get my hands on but alas my financial status did not allow it. So I browsed through as many as I could. In that way I happily whiled away a whole afternoon.
Time passed quickly. My watch showed 5.00 p.m. and I had not even seen half of the exhibition. Anyhow I had to get home before my mother started wondering about me. I would have to come and visit the exhibition another day. So reluctantly I stepped out of the town hall and walked towards the bus stop.
The Book Fair as the name suggests is all about books and the quest for knowledge. It is held every year in Kolkata in the winter months of January-February on the sprawling 'Milan Mela Grounds'. Thousands visit the fair every year to get a hand on their favourite books. Though books are available across the state and country, a book fair enables mingling of cultures and brings about unison and harmony in society. A book fair is always an attraction for book lovers across the globe.
The first book fair was held in the year 1976 and thereafter organized every year. It had only thirty five stalls. In subsequent years the numbers of stalls have substantially increased. The fair lasts for nearly two weeks. It is a time of happiness and festivity with the smell of books all around the air. This fair is organized to bring many books, publishers, book lovers, readers etc. under one umbrella and campus. The various stalls enable one to find books on different subjects easily. Books of different publishers and topics are found at the book fair. Hopping from one book stall to the other to collect the favourite book, novel etc. is a fun filled endeavour.
Hopping around for books and finally purchasing some of the favourite ones brings about some attractive discounts. The Book fair is organized by publishers under the name of 'Book Sellers and Publishers Guild'. Throngs of people are seen visiting the Book Fair every year in Kolkata. Some college students bring along musical instruments and sit in groups singing songs in the open air.
Thousands of students visit the fair every year. There is an entrance fee too. Concessions are given to children. Publishers offer attractive discounts on books during this period to attract book lovers and to enhance sales of their publications. Seminars and Symposiums are also held from time to time to discuss ways and means to improve book publishing and the utility aspect of book fairs. A remarkable aspect of the fair is that one can see both young and old people including children who very enthusiastically visit stalls and purchase books of their choice. A good amount of books are sold during this time. There is also a theme pavilion and little magazine enclosure. Artists also sketch visitors on the spot for a fee. There are a good number of food stalls selling a variety of food items.
The book fair has gained immense popularity and success down the years. Book fairs are not only held in Kolkata but all across the country and globe as well. The same is being held at other places and is slowly gaining popularity among the masses. But the book fair at Kolkata still stands out to be the most popular and has opened up new horizons and dimensions. West Bengal is considered to be the seat of wisdom and culture; and the success of the Book Fair at Kolkata substantiates this statement.
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