“The electronic media have distracted many book readers and distanced them from books. TV and internet have become their first priority. But one cannot learn from TV or internet, the way one learns from books,” M Zubair Saeed, the Pakistan Publishers and Book Sellers Association honorary general secretary, said on Friday.
Saeed was speaking at the 25th Lahore International Book Fair 2011 at the Lahore Expo Centre organised by the Punjab government and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry as a part of the ongoing Lahore Shopping Festival.
He said that the book fair aimed primarily to serve professionals and avid readers who could not only browse through a lot of new volumes but also meet people with similar interests. There was a dire need, he said, to highlight the need for a book reading culture, he said.
The fair features nearly 100 publishers and book sellers each from Pakistan and abroad.
The orgnisers said some of the latest releases were available at discounts. Danish Schools have also set up a stall at the fair, where their representatives are marketing the texts to be taught at these schools.
Books on subjects varying from religion to politics, education, culture, tourism and fiction attracted most visitors. The fiction section on many stalls too attracted many visitors.
Highlighting the causes of decline in book sales, Saeed acknowledged that books have become expensive over the past few years. Most people, he feared, can no longer afford to buy books.
Saman, a visitor, said, “In the age of laptops and alternative educational channels, you barely need books. Such events can make remind people how important book reading is.”
Mohsin Ali Raza, marketting executive of Readings book store, said it would be unfortunate if people in the business gave up. Books, he said, were the most promising way of sharing priceless knowledge. “Such events can act as a reminder that knowledge is not gained from textbooks alone. Most of it comes from general reading,” he said.
Most of the visitors were appreciative of the quality and verity of the books at the fair. The collection seemed to cater to all ages and tastes.
Azam A Mustafa, a Punjab University professor, said that he had not imagined the event will attract so many people.
The book fair will continue till April 10.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2011.
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