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Live in a large apartment complex? You could have your own Boimela!

28 June, 2022 16:57:48
Live in a large apartment complex? You could have your own Boimela!

After a two-year gap enforced by Covid-19, the 45th International Kolkata Book Fair or Boimela was held at Salt Lake’s Central Park from February 28 to March 13. In a unique initiative this year, the Book Fair was broadcast via a continuous live stream for 14 days, from three different locations, including drone shots of the fairground. This resulted in nearly 340 hours of live stream footage, an operation on an unprecedented scale.

However, thousands of Kolkatans still failed to make it to the fair in person, hampered either by distance, or the fear of Covid. And it is for book lovers such as these that the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, organisers of the Book Fair, have launched ‘Tomar Amar Boimela’ - three-day weekend book fairs at housing complexes and apartment blocks across the city and possibly the suburbs.

Publishers and Booksellers Guild Secretary Tridib Kumar Chattopadhyay calls Tomar Amar Boimela a “personal event” for both Bengali and non-Bengali readers, “among people whose reading habits are trusted and tested”. The idea, which he says came from younger and newer members of the guild, is to focus on larger housing complexes with hundreds of residents. 

The first fair of the series was held from June 24-26 at Regent Park Government Housing Estate Community Centre, where eminent literary personalities like Hiran Mitra, Arun Mukhopadhyay and Jayanta Dey were present. The next is scheduled from July 1-3 at Utsav-Utsarg Apartments in Santoshpur, and the third will be held from July 15-17 at FD Block, Salt Lake.

“Open-air events are not possible during the monsoon, so larger apartment complexes provide excellent venues for events like these,” says Chattopadhyay. “For instance, the Utsarga complex has about 800 flats, which generates a large pool of buyers if we were to consider the commercial angle.”

For obvious reasons, the weekend book fairs will be slightly tilted in favour of Bengali readers, featuring names such as Srijato Bandyopadhyay, Pracheta Gupta, Smaranjit Chakraborty, Debarati Mukhopadhyay, and Himadrikishore Dasgupta, who will be part of various discussion sessions with topics like, ‘should books be read outside the syllabus’, or ‘is Bengali literature losing its importance’, and similar.

The Santoshpur Utsarga Boimela will be inaugurated by the legendary Sirsendu Mukhopadhyay, clearly stating the guild’s intention to raise awareness about Bengali books and connecting readers to the authors. “We will subsidise the fairs with the excess funds at the guild’s disposal,” says Chattopadhyay.

If the response to the first weekend book fair is any indication, these mini fairs may become revenue generators on their own, with sales totaling nearly Rs 2 lakh from Regent Park alone. As Chattopadhyay says, “This is a good way to spread the reading habit.” And everyone goes home happy.

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