The 11-day-long book fair in Madurai came to a close on Sunday with a dance performance by Narthaki Natraj and speech by Tamil writer Manushyaputhiran.
The book fair, organised by the district administration with Book Sellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), was inaugurated by the Minister for Information Technology and Digital Services Palanivel Thiaga Rajan on October 12, recorded a footfall of around one lakh people with sales of around ₹1 crore.
However, many publishers and writers expressed their concern over fall in number of books sold this year. A shop owner from Chennai, A. Baskaran, said the sales had gone down drastically compared to the previous year. “Last year, since the Madurai book fair was conducted after a gap of three years, people bought books with enthusiasm but this time the number of people visiting the stalls itself had gone down,” he said.
With the rise in online shopping platforms, people prefer to buy books online to visiting shops. “Even people who visit the shops note down the books to buy later from online at a bargain price,” he said.
A writer, who visited the book fair, said the fall in sales could be attributed to many factors. “First, there was a confusion in finalising the book fair dates. Next, not many new books were launched prior to the fair,” he said. Since book fairs are being conducted in most of the districts in the recent years, people from the neighbouring districts do not find the need to visit Madurai book fair.
“People hesitate to buy books at a time when they plan to spend on clothes, eatables, etc., prior to the festival”A writer
Importantly, it was also due to the festival season. “People hesitate to buy books at a time when they plan to spend on clothes, eatables, etc.,” he added.
M. Suresh, a reader from Madurai. said that In recent times, particularly after the COVID-19 lockdowns, people have habituated to spending most of their time on electronic devices even for reading a book.
Around 200 students, who won in various competitions conducted during the book fair, were given awards and citations by the district administration at the closing ceremony.