Publishers were disappointed by the number of visitors to a book fair at Aiwan-i-Iqbal on Sunday, saying the event had not been properly advertised.
“People who are interested in books don’t know about this event,” said Shafiqur Rehman of Jahangir Books. “There was no proper coverage in the media and it was not advertised well. If they had targeted the right audience, more and more people would have come.”
The Markazia Majlis-i-Iqbal and Aiwan-i-Iqbal jointly organised the book fair, which aims to promote reading, said media coordinator Anjum Ahmed. He said the publishers at the fair were offering big discounts to attract customers.
The book stalls cost only Rs2,000, so several small publishers set up stalls, though they voiced disappointment at the turnout. Most of the books were in Urdu and half of the stalls sold religious books.
Ahmad Fuad, a corporate training manager and avid reader, said Urdu book publishers were bad at advertising their books. “There is no proper marketing of the books so people don’t get access to the books that have good research and are really thought-provoking,” he said.
He lamented the lack of interest in Urdu books. “I have been to a book festival in Tehran that is held every year. They had stalls for books in more than 100 languages but there were many more people at the Persian stalls than any other. Unfortunately it is the opposite in Pakistan.”
Some visitors were very happy with the selection on offer. Writer and poet Ahmad Hamad was excited to find books on the Subcontinent’s culture. “I am really happy with the fair,” he said. “There are good books in Urdu on philosophy and literature here.”
The Urdu Science Board stall was one of the most popular at the fare, offering books on science, nutrition, music, geology and psychology. However, the biggest sales were of books on general knowledge and encyclopaedias.
Other notable stalls were of the Idara Siqafat-i-Islamia which publishes books on Islamic culture, civilisation and philosophers; Jumhoori Publications, which claims to be a liberal publishing house printing books that promote democratic values; and Fiction House, publisher of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, among others.
The fair will continue till April 21.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2011.
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