A book lover’s haven has come to town in the shape of a five-day National Book Fair which opened at the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) here on Monday. An array of publishing houses, NGOs and academics are displaying their books from all over Pakistan; most of which are up for sale at a discount.
As many as nine Pakistani authors were also invited to speak about literature, the fair and answer participants’ questions.
Saba Hameed, a student at Shifa Hospital was glad to see a wide selection of books. “My friends and I came here after college and I’ve bought two books at really discounted prices,” she said, visibly content with bagging a good deal.
Majority of the books are in Urdu apart from a few translations. PAL’s stall showcased collections of classic and contemporary authors such as Saadat Hasan Manto, Josh Malihabadi, Ahmed Faraz, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bano Qudsia and Muhammad Bansh Yaar to name a few. They’re offering a 50% discount on each collection originally costing Rs400, half the price is quite the steal, said Kashif, another visitor.
Pakistan National Council of the Arts Marketing and Publication Manager Anjum Sajjad spoke about the stall to The Express Tribune, saying, “We have books on art, literature, history and puppet culture, and also their coffee table editions.”
He pointed out that the books are mostly picture-based; “owning them is akin to having a piece of tangible Pakistani culture,” he added. The average price of the smaller books is around Rs100 to Rs180 without 50% discount and that of coffee table editions is Rs800 with discount.
On the other hand, books at academic stalls such as those of NGOs publications aren’t all for sale but for public viewing.
However, Iqbal at the Journals of Social and Policy Sciences stall shared that while the publications aren’t for immediate purchase, if a customer is interested a copy of it can be sent via courier.
In addition to leisurely literature viewing, attendees listened to ‘Author’s Corner’, took autographs and asked questions from the guest writers.
They included, Ahmed Javed, Anwer Masood, Iftikhar Arif, Sarfraz Shahid, Nilofer Iqbal, Naseer Ahmed Nasir, Waheed Ahmed, Rafique Sandhelwi and Sallahuddin Darwaish.
Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza and Provincial Minister for Labour of Balochistan Maulvi Muhammad Sarwar also browsed through the stalls. The National Language Authority Chairman Anwaar Ahmed was the chief guest while the inaugural session was conducted by the poet Noureen Tallat Arooba. The second day of the fair will feature a poetry recital at 4pm. The ‘Author’s Corner’ will have a new speaker lineup.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.
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