Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Book viewing vs book buying

January 24, 2016, Jaipur: Yesterday I could not spend much time at the Lit Fest as I hosted an Ek Mulakat event with Jayshree Periwal Foundation at the ITC Rajputana in the afternoon. Javed Akhtar was in conversation with Sangeeta Datta on her CD Anant.
With Javed Akhtar
Sangeeta sang well and Javed Akhtar was as usual popular among the
Jaipurites.
I hardly slept a wink yesterday night because it was 2:30 am by the time I finished dinner hosted by Prabha Khaitan Foundation in collaboration with Vani Prakashan for the Hindi and Urdu authors. By the time I got back to my room it was 4 am.
So I decided to pen my blog now. Tomorrow at 10 am I have to leave for the Vintage Car Rally flag-off ceremony.
L to R: With Ish Madhu Talwar, Padashree C P Deval and Arun Maheshwari of Vani Prakashan
The dinner was attended by all the prominent Hindi and Urdu authors of Rajasthan who had come for the Lit Fest. Almost all the authors, directly or indirectly, expressed their feelings against the discriminatory treatment of English and regional authors. Padmashree Deval spoke on the mike about this as well.
With LC Pant, Resident Editor, Dainik Bhaskar
Honestly, I too have always felt this. The reason I requested Vani Prakashan to come on board with us as host during the Lit Fest was to create a feel good factor among the regional authors who felt left out. It is a known fact that the English publications houses have lavish dinners at the city five star hotels for the English authors only.
The Jaipur Literature Festival is the biggest of fests in terms of scale, quality of programmes and the eclectic mix of writers from all over the world. The organizers take huge pride in the fact that from a small festival it has become a mammoth five-day literary jamboree with lakhs of people coming in attend.
With author Prabhat Ranjan
One question is that while lakhs of people come to JLF but how many really buy books?
My experience with Jaipurites is that they love book viewing. The thronging crowds at the JLF flaunt fashion, indulge in shopping, knick-knacks, drink wine and beer and even fill up the sessions. But they rarely buy books. Some of the book stalls set up by leading publishers are in awaiting for the customers who swarm around the food and beverage kiosks.
Similarly, the booths selling trinkets, clothes and even pickles and chutneys, for that matter, are witness much better footfalls than the bookstalls. One observation that I would like to make is that the majority of the books bought at the JLF are by the visitors who come to Jaipur from other places.
With transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
One of the many excuses is that the tech savvy youth of today prefer reading on their mobile phones, laptops and kindles. Gone are the days when people would wear an old coat and read a new book. Today people buy a designer dress or a bag rather a book. The sad faces of the book sellers who shell out quite a bit to set up stalls in the Lit Fest reflects this hard fact. What is even more astonishing is that even outlets selling fancy stuffs like mugs and diaries attract more people than book stalls.
I had organized a book launch session of a well-known celebrity author in a luxury hotel. The elite of Jaipur was present and only about 10 copies of the book were sold despite a discount. Indeed a sad commentary on the so called book lovers of Jaipur.
The JLF organizers also need to ensure that the moderators and the presenters who go up on the stage know the correct names of the author and the guests while calling them to the dais. Yesterday, at the launch of a book by a well known editor, the presenter announced the author's name, and said his other friends would join in which included biggest Hindi publishing house owner and a very reputed Hindi author as well.
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