Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif opened the five-day Lahore International Book Fair on Thursday at the Expo Centre.
This year’s theme is Education for All and Books for Peace.
Zubair Saeed, chairman of the Lahore International Book Fair Trust said “We have almost 350 exhibitors this year up from 220 last year… we are very excited,”
Saeed said publishers from India, Turkey, Singapore and Germany were participating.
He said, “35 people from India were participating. They did not face any visa problems.’’
Zubair regretted that the Punjab Textbook Board was not participating.
“Last year, as many as 50,000 children from schools came and liked the activities organised in partnership with the PTB,” he said.
Saeed said the change in venue of the fair – from Fortress Stadium to Expo Centre – had required a big investment that had finally paid off.
It was cheaper to organise the event at Fortress Stadium, he said, but the new venue had brought serious book-lovers to the fair.
“It is better organised and more structured now… everything is clearly marked… that is something we appreciate,” said Uzair Iqbal, in-charge at the Readings book stall.
With 32 book stalls this year (last year they had 27) Readings again have one of the largest displays. Readings, participating in the LIBF since 2007, is offering a 15% discount on literature and children’s books.
Baadil Awan, who has recently joined the Liberty Books Team in Lahore, was hopeful that crowds will grow larger over the weekend.
“As book-sellers we learn a lot from readers,” he said.
Mohsin Alam, a software engineer and his friend Farhan Khalid said they were looking for their favourite authors including Musharraf Ali Farooqi.
“I have read great online reviews about his latest book after the recent literature festivals in India,” said Alam.
Khalid carried his own ‘to-buy’ list.
Several distributors and publishers said there was a lot of interest in books from India. Pak Book Corporation Assistant Sales Manager Ali Zaidi said Indian books were popular not just among students but also college libraries.
Waqar Naeem, the Peshawar based Future World Publications Marketing Director said children’s books, especially for 7 -14 year-olds sold like hot cakes.
“While the import of foreign publications… has created a healthy market,” he said.
Yakup, director of Harmony Publications of Turkey, said the great response for Turkish publications at their first visit two years ago had forced them to continue participating.
BBC Urdu has set up to promote their programme Sairbeen.
“We just want to fill the information gap which exists out there,” said BBC Urdu’s correspondent Wusatullah Khan.
“We are here to educate people and disseminate information,” said senior producer Zeeshan Haider.
The fair will conclude on February 18.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2013.