Attention! All the bibliophiles who, for whatever unfathomable reason missed this year's World Book Fair in Delhi, lost out on nine days of absolute adventure and bliss in this zombie-ridden world. You have to now wait for a year to procure salvation – serves you right. Meanwhile, this nerdy (an over-exploited word really!) bookworm, ably supported by her ever-faithful coffee mug, meticulously made a list of books to hunt down a day before hitting the fair. Consequently, she is now in the happy position of being able to pen her book fair experience. The intention, in all honesty, is to give you some simple, but absolute, reasons of why you should never miss such opportunities. Please don't look for pointers, spare me the pain!
The sheer, sublime joy of being in such an expansive space completely transformed by shelves and shelves of books – fiction, non-fiction, international best sellers, self-help books, graphic novels, comics, classics, travel books, illustrative encyclopedias, biographies, autobiographies... you name it and you have it. There is no denying the fact that this is the best place to find those books that you have not been able to get your hands on at a bookstore or online. You do not have to buy books necessarily; interested readers may please themselves with free copies of books on spirituality that are distributed at some stalls every year.
Oh! To inhale the ink-and-paper aroma of new books; experience the instant connect with anyone and everyone under the roof, be it a sixty year old or a school kid; that question, or observation that leads to an hour-long conversation with a complete stranger... And then, if you get lucky, you might even run into your favourite author (imagine filmy style!).
It's the perfect place to get a sense of how both books and their readers have transformed over time; how books have been redesigned to meet changing needs, the content becoming more illustrative and visually appealing. This is especially true for books that strive to capture the attention of the younger age groups. “Touch and Feel” books for toddlers. Even I couldn't resist opening one of those, nor the peek-a-boo books: It felt like revisiting childhood.
Book Fairs reassure me: the population of readers is increasing. The joy of reading is touching innumerable lives. Kids continue to delve into a world beyond curriculum-prescribed texts. The jostling crowds, at the fair, answer all those who believe that eBooks can replace the sensory experience of reading a book – from the joy of turning page after page to the tangible feel of it in your hands.