Foreign exhibitors seek business, cultural ties

Visitors at the `World Book Fair` organised at Pragati Maidan, in New Delhi, on Feb 14, 2015.
Visitors at the `World Book Fair` organised at Pragati Maidan, in New Delhi, on Feb 14, 2015.

By Shilpa Raina 

 The international publishers participating in the ongoing Delhi World Book Fair 2015 here not only want to do good business, but also bridge cultural ties and introduce their literary landscape to the Indian audience.

Gauhar Iqbal who represents Manshurat Publisher and Distribution firm from Lahore, has been participating in the fair since 2006. And to him, representation at the annual fair reinforces the fact that the relationship between the two nations is far away from being “turbulent”.

“We don’t come from Pakistan only to make money. We are here as cultural ambassadors representing our country. We have to improve the relationship between the two countries and for that it is important to have a presence in respective countries,” Iqbal said.

This year they have brought around 30-35 publishers from Pakistan to India and admit that this is the “biggest ever” contingent they have brought here.

“Indians love to read a lot of Islamic books and popular poets such as Faiz and Iqbal. We don’t bring many novels to India because the cost of Urdu novels is higher in Pakistan and Indians don’t want to shell out so much money,” said Iqbal, adding they generate good business from the fair.

Similar sentiments were shared by Mohsen Nasralleeh, international representative of the Tehran International Book Fair, who has a stall at the fair. They have been participating for the past three years.

“This is the best platform to introduce Iranian writers to India. We want to promote Persian language and aid the learners of this language by offering a variety of books on various genres like Islamic culture, novels and poetry,” Nasralleeh told IANS.

“We aren’t doing much for profit because even though we sell a lot, the cost of our books here is lesser than the amount we pay for this stall. But the fair offers us many business opportunities and helps us to connect with many scholars and teachers,” he added, saying they had brought 200 books and many of them have already been sold.

This stall has novels like Iranian author Seyed Mehdi Shojaee’s “In the Twinkling of an Eye”, Nima Yousij’s “Modern Persian Poetry” and “The Water Urn” by Houshang Moradi Kermani.

National Book Trust (NBT) in association with the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) organises this fair at Pragati Maidan. This year Singapore is the guest country and South Korea is the focus country.

The fair, which began in 1972, is now considered a major international festival in Asia and this year 30 countries like China, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, UAE, Nepal and Germany are participating in the fair which will conclude Feb 22.

According to Vidya Pertiwi, third secretary, social and cultural department, Embassy of Indonesia, the fair provides opportunities to seek engagement with publishers who would be interested in translating their literature.

“This is our second year at the fair, though we are not selling any books. We are seeking partnerships and displaying what we have to offer,” Pertiwi said.

And this is the reason why they have stacked travel encyclopaedias, children’s books, fashion magazines, political books and popular Indonesian writers to showcase their literary landscape for the Indian audience.

South Korean exhibitors too aren’t selling books, but they would be donating these books to the Korean Cultural Centre in the capital to promote their literary stalwarts and help those Indian students who are learning the language.

“There are many Indian students who are learning the South Korean language. So we want them to improve their writing and reading skills through these books,” Eunhee Kim from the Korean Publishers Association told IANS.

“Also, we have brought books of some of our prominent writers and these students would be able to understand our country and issues through these writings,” she added.