Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bangalore Book Fair

Well, it got over about a week ago. I visited last Saturday, just one day before the close. It had the usual mix of publishers and booksellers from all over India, with everyone giving 10 % off on all that they had on offer. There were also quite a few stalls with used books!

Among the English language publishers, the Fair had a fair share of academic publishers: Oxford, Cambridge, Thomson, Prentice Hall. Surprisingly, I didn't find any of India's mass market biggies -- Penguin, Rupa, et al. May be BBF is just too small for them.

I am usually leery about such fairs, because they are organized on open grounds, with no decent flooring: if it rains, you would wade through slushy mud, and if it shines, you would wade through a palpable dusty fog. Because of these fears, I haven't been to a BBF or any of the consumer exhibitions and trade fairs in a long time.

I am an admirer of both their wonderful blogs:

Education in India

Nothing frivolous, only serious'

I have had an occasion to write about their publishing venture once: here.

What spurred me to go to BBF this time was an alert from Satya, about the stall of Kizhakku Padhippagam (KP), a Tamil publishing house run by Badri and him. When I did go there, I was pleasantly surprised by the way it was organized: no open stalls, no slush, no dust! On the contrary, the ambience there was actually quite pleasant.

Now, KP's was one of a handful of stalls by Tamil publishers and book sellers. Since it is a new venture, its collection was rather small -- some 80 titles or so. Most of their books are devoted to nonfiction: biography, politics, essays, spirituality and self-help. Their fiction section included short story collections, a few novels and a couple of books in the humour section.

The collection on non-fiction is quite admirable: US, Pakistan, terrorism (including comparative terrorism!), 9/11, biographies of Dhirubhai Ambani, N.R. Narayanamurthy, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Rajinikanth, Thomas Edison, and so on. I picked up the biographies of C.N. Annadurai and K. Kamaraj.

Their fiction collection is small. Fortunately, they have started with classics: Indira Parthasarathy, Aadhavan and Malan, among others. In the essay section, they even had Ashokamitran's essays in two fat volumes at Rs. 350/ each. I picked one or two of these as well.

Finally, I have to mention that all their books have been produced really well. Especially, their hard-bound volumes (such as Ashokamitran's essay collections), are beautiful to hold and behold. Given such a high production value, I am surprised that most of their books are priced at between 30 and 100, with only a few getting into the three figure range. I believe this is because of their desire to reach as many people as possible, as explained by Satya in this post.

The staffer at the KP stall told me that they will unveil a bunch of new titles at the Chennai Fair, which is scheduled for sometime in Janurary. I am certainly looking forward to it; I just have to figure out how to take a few days off from the beginning of the semester ...


  1. Anonymous said...

    Abi, have you visited the Strand sale yet? they have sonme truly good discounts and titles. think it is still on at bgl... I went crazy this time in bombay:)
    (have not seen any of KP's publications yet - maybe I can catch it at the Madras book fair next Jan...)

  2. Abi said...


    Are you just prescient, or are you clairvoyant as well?

    Strand announced its annual sale last Sunday, the day after you posted this comment.


  3. Anonymous said...

    I subscribe to their newsletter or whatever and know when they have sales and such :)

  4. Anonymous said...

    hey charu, can you tell which newsletter ?
    and where is strands in bangalore ?
    reply here (or ping me on YIM: nileshhiray