Friday, January 22, 2016

The Sunday Haul at the World Book Fair, New Delhi

A couple of years ago I had visited Pragati Maidan for another book fair that was smaller. At that time too I had bought a few books in the second hand book stalls. At the World Book Fair I did not expect they would allow second hand book stalls but I found a couple of stalls selling old and rare books. There were also sellers offering books at bargain prices. The sheer number of stalls, small and big at the several halls took me by surprise. Not surprisingly, the venue was thronging with enormous crowds buying up books. Only a month ago I had been to the Hyderabad Book Fair and now I was at another book fair.

The day before, at Hyderabad, I had happened to meet a friend who was a voracious reader with a fine taste for books. She had told me that she had read Perumal Murugan’s ‘One Part Woman’ and said it was very good. In the cavernous stall that Penguin Random House had set up at the WBF it was so packed with visitors that it was difficult to even take a proper look at all the titles on display. Somehow I managed to quickly scan the titles on the shelves and was surprised to find ‘One Part Woman’ that I decided to buy. There was a twenty percent discount so I got it at a fairly decent price.
At one stall belonging to ‘Sangeeta Books’ there were old hardcover volumes of titles published in India in the thirties and forties maybe. There weren’t any title that I found interesting. On another shelf I saw paperbacks that seemed interesting. I was hoping I would be able to find a copy of Arun Joshi’s ‘The Survivors’ that was proving quite elusive. However, I did not find it here too but found an old copy of ‘The Seven Storey Mountain’ by Thomas Merton. Then I found a book on Graham Greene by David Pryce-Jones that seemed interesting. I am currently reading ‘A Burnt Out Case’ by Graham Greene which made me buy this title in the Writers and Critics series. I got Thomas Merton’s book for a hundred rupees and paid fifty rupees for the book on Graham Greene.
In a few corners and narrow spaces scattered around in the halls I saw books stacked on a few shelves and also heaped on the ground. They were being sold at the rate of three titles for a hundred rupees and some books were being sold for hundred rupees. There were quite a few such sellers in almost all the hall I visited. All the books they had seemed to be brand new and everyone seemed to have almost the same titles. At one such seller I found a nice copy of ‘They Came Like Swallows’ by William Maxwell and ‘The Scatter Here is Too Great’ by Bilal Tanweer. I bought these copies for a hundred rupees each.
In another corner I saw heaps of hardcover books that seemed to be mostly autobiographies. One could pick up three books for hundred rupees. I was not interested in picking up hardcover books since my bag was already quite heavy. Nevertheless I wanted to see if there was anything interesting that I could find. I think there were more people buying these books in the corners than at the stalls where they seemed to mostly look. There was a crowd of youngsters squatting on the ground and going through heap of hardcovers on the floor. I managed to make my way into the crowd and was able to find a beautiful copy of ‘A Cook’s Tour’ by Anthony Bourdain. I got it for only fifty rupees.
It took my nearly four hours to visit most of the stalls in the halls that were located at quite a distance from each other. Going from one hall to another took up a lot of time. There were so many halls that I do not know if was able to visit all of them. I couldn’t find any more titles to buy for myself but I bought books for my kid and also for my nephews. At around four in the afternoon I decided to leave. It had been a long day and I felt tired. But I was glad I had managed to visit the World Book Fair at last and find half a dozen titles.
Back at my brother’s home I got to read the Sunday papers. In the Sunday magazine of The Hindu Jaya Bhattacharji Rose had written in her column that there seemed to be more crowds than usual at the WBF. I though her observation was absolutely on the mark. Being the last day of the fair many people seemed to have come to buy books. Only last month there was the annual Book Fair in Hyderabad and compared to WBF it seemed quite small.


Harimohan said...

Nice haul. I have set my eyes on a couple bhai.

Vinod Ekbote said...

Ok, they're all yours.