TODAY -

Of bibliophile and Imphal Book Fair 2020

Rajendra Kshetri *

 28th Imphal Book Fair 2019 at Tiddim Ground, Kwakeithel, Imphal :: 10th - 19th January 2020
28th Imphal Book Fair 2019 at Tiddim Ground, Imphal on 10-19 January 2020 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



A regular annual (read winter) event that I always made/make it a point to not miss (whenever I am in and around the state capital) is IMPHAL BOOK FAIR.

This year too, 2020, went in the evening with my colleague Dr Khogen. Much as we wanted to spend more time , browse through varied titles of different genres at all the stalls, had to be contented, satisfied and do our best with whatever little time we had at our disposal (the fair closes at 7).

Given the time constraint, we did a quick - round of the fair complex to have a glimpse of all the book stalls of different publishers and distributors. There were empty stalls that greeted us (may be some publishers and distributors could not make it on time or left earlier).

It is not a pleasant feeling to come across empty stalls which dampen the spirit of book enthusiasts or a bibliophile.

The well - represented - fair that was Imphal Book Fair 2020 (with stalls from Delhi, North East and locals) I was a tad disappointed though (I still am) not to have come across/found Penguin, OUP, Sage, Rawat, Mittal and NBT stalls ( a near - must and almost a certainty in every book fair in the country, not to speak of Kolkata and Delhi book fairs).

Penguin, OUP and Sage are of course international publishers of impeccable repute and may not be at arm's length of the organisers of Imphal Book Fair to rope in.

The National Book Trust (NBT) poses no such problems and could easily be arranged to have a couple of stalls.

Why I love to see NBT stalls at Imphal Book Fair is because its publications are very student - teacher - researcher friendly in terms of quality content and highly affordable price (normal price range of every NBT publications starts from 50/75 Rupees to a maximum of 225/250 Rupees).

Since it is a major wing of Government of India Publications Division, the state government could be approached (by Imphal Book Fair organisers) to use its good offices to have NBT stalls in the next and subsequent Imphal Book Fair. Such a step on the part of the state government will be a tremendous boost to the book lovers of Manipur particularly the student/ teacher/ research communities.

A distinguishing feature of Imphal Book Fair 2020 is undoubtedly the presence/ appearance of 'Readers Book Store'- a stall that stands apart from the rest - with its eye catching collection of titles on Philosophy, Marxism, Neo-Marxism, and Classics.

No wonder, this stall drew the largest number of book enthusiasts especially students, teachers, and researchers. This is one stall that caters to the long - felt need of students of social sciences and humanities.

Two titles that I picked up stand out and add to my collection of classics and rare books: 1 - 'KOHIMA' by Arthur Swinson; 2 - 'IMPHAL': A Flower on Lofty Heights by Sir Geoffrey Evans and Antony Brett - James.

Both the books are first hand account of the battles of Kohima and Imphal (WW II). Another good buy is 'The Unquiet River: a biography of the Brahmaputra' by Arup Jyoti Saikia.

This particular buy could not have come at a more appropriate time when my prose - poetry book on Nambul river 'Cry of a Dying River' is on print and hitting the stands next month.

A visit to the Imphal Book Fair 2020 (please cultivate a healthy habit of visiting book fair every year), a quiet sojourn of an hour or two inside the complex will impress one for sure that Imphal is much more than a city of strikes, Bandhs, Blockades, sit-in- protests and total shutdowns. It is also a city of book lovers.

# A Suggestive Note: Closing hour of the book fair could/ should have been extended by a couple of hours, say up to 9.00 p.m., given the much improved law and order scenario in the state. This will enable a sizable crowd of office goers to visit the book fair.


* Rajendra Kshetri wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Professor of Sociology at Manipur University, Imphal.
Author of 3 academic books - "The Emergence of Meetei Nationalism, " "District Councils in Manipur: Formation and Functioning," "Sociology: Perception and Conception"; his poems - numbering one hundred - on Nambul river " Cry of a Dying River" is being published by AABS Publishing House, Kolkata and will be out in the stand by February 2020
This article was webcasted on January 22, 2020.



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