GUWAHATI, Nov 7 - As the 21st North East Book Fair is getting a good response from the book readers in terms of footfall and sale, the body of publishers and book sellers of Assam feels that if the State government extends a timely help, the stature of the book fest can be taken to the international level, resolving the problems that crop up frequently at the time of holding the fair.
Organisers of the event, the All Assam Publishers and Book Sellers Association, have also said that the contentious issue of the venue of book fair should be solved permanently by reserving the first half of the month of November exclusively for the North East Book Fair.
It needs mention here that last year, uncertainty about the book fair venue grabbed media headlines when the Publication Board, Assam, decided to host another book fest around the same time at the AEI ground in Chandmari � where the NE Book Fair is held every year. The tussle was sorted out eventually, letting the publishers and book sellers body hold its event at the venue on prescheduled time.
�Such uncertainties affect the organisers and the general public alike. If the venue of our event is fixed permanently, the book lovers can also rest assured about the time and venue of this annual event,� Imran Ahmed, president of the All Assam Publishers and Booksellers Association told The Assam Tribune.
As the book fair entered its seventh day today, an overall sale of above Rs 95 lakh has been recorded till date. Apart from the 5,000 passes distributed for free entry to the venue, the book festival has registered a footfall of more than 75 thousand people so far.
�We want to raise the bar of the book fest by inviting big international publishing houses, but it requires timely intervention of the State government. We contacted the secretary of the Moscow Book Fair and some Russian publishing houses in Kolkata Boi Mela recently, who expressed their willingness to join the NE Book Fair, provided the State government initiates correspondence with the Russian High Commission. However, such big international houses should be contacted at least two years in advance as they have a tight schedule,� Ahmed added.
The Association has also planned to meet Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the issues so that a positive step can be initiated.
Some other issues on which the organisers want government support are waiving off the rent of the AEI field, which is Rs 15,000 per day and extending a certain grant-in-aid to the NE Book Fair. To hold the event, the organisers book the field for close to a month.
The Association also demanded a State central library in Assam to encourage book reading.
�The District Library here is hardly sufficient to accommodate the book lovers. We must have a good State library, if we want to create an atmosphere for book reading,� general secretary of the Association Dhiraj Goswami stated.