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Debarata Chattopadhyay: A Bookaholic who bought books worth Rs 3 lakh from this year's Kolkata Book Fair—GetBengal story

27 March, 2024 17:03:16
Debarata Chattopadhyay: A Bookaholic who bought books worth Rs 3 lakh from this year's Kolkata Book Fair—GetBengal story

Why is the news of a book lover buying books worth Rs 3 lakh from a book fair hitting the headlines? Simple, because in an age when we have forgotten to read physical books, isn’t it like a dream come true when one hears that here is a man who not just this year but every year buys books worth lakhs! Yes, lakhs, not spent to buy any property, or car or jewellery, but books, makes a man. Debarata Chattopadhyay belongs to the rare clan who the usual society will call a book nerd, or a bookaholic. A dedicated teacher hailing from Chakdah, he has unquestionably demonstrated an unwavering passion for books This year at Kolkata Book Fair he bought books worth a whopping Rs 3 Lakh, 36 thousand. A frequent visitor to the book fair, Chattopadhyay this year did eight rounds on various days at the Kolkata International Book Fair that just ended in January. At times he took his students along, to share his enthusiasm and inspire them to invest in books. While the exact number of books he acquired remains undisclosed, it is evident that his love for literature has been a lifelong affair. To the media he disclosed: “Since my youth, I diligently saved money throughout the year, eagerly waiting for the annual book fair, My passion was always books and I wanted to grow my collection.”

Being a teacher, Chattopadhyay's interests extend to various facets of the literary world, not limited to just the book fair.“I love teaching, reading, and playing the sitar. Other than the book fair, I often drop in at College Street, where I spend hours engrossed in a literary treasure hunt to discover new books.” Indeed College Street is called the Book Street of Kolkata and one who has the time to sift through this treasure can often end up buying rare books of the past at a very low cost. 

“Whenever I travel, I make it a point to bring back newfound books from diverse locations, creating a collection rich in diversity in my library at home,” he added. Establishing valuable connections with publishers in major cities such as Kolkata, Delhi, and Mumbai, he has cultivated a network that aids him in acquiring not only new releases but also rare books and introduces him to emerging authors. This dedication underscores Mr. Chattopadhyay's status as a true ‘lectiophile’ who ceaselessly seeks to expand his literary horizons and share the joy of discovery with his students and fellow book enthusiasts.

This year he has proved to be the Kolkata Book Fair’s grandest icon. Over the years, the book fair has come a long way and has established itself as the go-to place in January for most people of Bengal. Better commuting has helped people easily access the fair even from the districts. Thanks to a functional Metro and proximity to a bus stand due to which the visitors had to face fewer problems in accessing public transport compared to earlier years. The proximity to the railway line and shared auto service also has added to lessen connectivity issues. 

Soubhik Chakraborty, a student said, “I love visiting the book fair every year with my father who loves buying books. He has introduced me to different authors, some of my favourites are Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Charles Dickens, Ruskin Bond and others. I love to spend time with my father who sometimes reads to me.” His father looked proud as his son spoke of his favourite authors, “I am happy that my son shares the same interest as me,” he remarked with a sense of fulfillment.  When they both got to know about the man who bought books worth more than 3 lahks, they were surprised and happy. “Who knows, maybe I too shall someday make a library of my own,” added Soubhik.

Poushali Maitra, a class 12 student accompanied by her mother, said, “I visit the book fair every year and am elated to find new books. I try to limit myself to a few books which I can finish reading by next year. The venue has been like a home to me as I can spend hours here discovering new books and authors. I shall not be able to buy so many books as Chattopadhyay Sir, but nonetheless, I buy as much as my pocket money can afford.”

The Kolkata International Book Fair is easily the most popular event after Durga Puja. This year it saw a massive footfall as the organisers recorded 20%growth in sales. The 47th Book Fair started on 18th January and like every year, this year as well was a blast for all the bibliophiles. The International Kolkata Book Fair 2024 saw over 3 lakh people visit the event on its first Sunday. While the majority of visitors were youngsters, a good number of senior citizens also turned up. Kolkata Metro reported its passenger earnings in the East-West Metro Corridor, which connects Sealdah to Salt Lake Sector-V, increased by 12.96%. 

With the footfall increasing every year, venues have been challenged and changed over the years, and the iconic event now takes place in Salt Lake grounds. Online sale of books has not dented the popularity of the fair — in fact, far from it — as it provides a window to small publishers who have a dedicated readership but who are not much visible otherwise. People like Chattopadhyay are an inspiration indeed. As he signed off saying: “My wife gets irritated at times as all the floors of my house have turned into sort of libraries. There is hardly any more space to keep books, however, I do gift books too especially to my students to inculcate in them a love for stories and books.” Hope his students too will one day turn into bookaholics like Chattopadhyay. Only then the legacy of bookworms will survive the inroads made by social media and online books. 

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