International Kolkata Book Fair: Boi Mela
The book fair, one of the biggest in eastern India, will be held from January 31 to February 12 at the Central Park Mela ground. Spain is the theme country at the fair. Maria Jose Galvez Salvador, Director-General of Books and Promotion of Reading, Spanish Ministry of Culture & Sports, was present at the inauguration. Around 700 stalls and 200 Little Magazine stalls will be at the fair.
The first ever Kolkata Book Fair took place on March 5, 1976 on the ground just opposite to Academy of Fine Arts with 56 stalls and 34 publishers. And please do not laugh at the entry fees, it was just 50 paisa. They say a lot can happen over adda. On one such adda session of a bunch of young publishers at the College Street Coffee House in 1974, the unique idea of organizing a book fair following the model of the Frankfurt Book Fair came up. Incidentally, the Frankfurt Book Fair happens to be the largest book fair in the world. The thought behind
the idea was to boost the publishing trade of books and create a rendezvous for book lovers of the city. Many had considered the idea to be absurd, but the first founder member Sushil Mukherjea and the first General Secretary Jayant Manaktala went ahead with the idea. And
thus started the annual book lovers’ feat in the City of Joy. This was also a time when Kolkata saw a sort of literary revolution with eminent authors like Sunil Gangopaddhay, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Mahashweta Debi, Shirshendu Mukhopaddhyay, Bhaskar Chakraborty, Purnendu Patri, Sanjib Chattopadhay and many others coming up with powerful books that had a socio-economic impact too.
According to the book fair organizers, this year, there will be nine entry and exit points for easy movement of visitors. “One of the gates will be a replica of the Toledo Gate of Spain. There will be Biswa Bangla Gate and Najrul’s Agnibina Gate among the other gates. Two big halls at the fair, having mainly English publications have been named after Michael Madhusudan Dutt and Pyaricharan Sarkar, commemorating their bicentenary birth year
Be it for the little magazines, new publications, adda, meeting with new friends and falling in love… Kolkata Book Fair still holds on to a charm that very few book fairs across the world do
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