Kolkata Book Fair 2015 gets high on tech

The 574 stalls and the food apart, the 39th edition boasts of better internet presence and even an app to help you find your way around!  

PHI Learning at Kolkata Book Fair Hall No. 1, Stall No. 18

A good book has often been called a man’s best friend, or as Groucho Marx puts it, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

But the truth is undeniable -nothing can educate, make time fly or provide non-stop entertainment like a book. So, as we get closer to the 39th edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair, most of us have started getting sweaty palms, itching to grab our next cartload of entertainment. The organizers, too, have made big plans for all visitors. Not only are they offering more discounts, but have also made special transportation arrangements.

Moreover, the second edition of the three day Kolkata Literature Festival, which begins on February 6, promises enriching discussions and, of course, evenings of great music and dance.

TOI highlights some of the latest additions that promise to make this 12-day (January 28-February 8) event even more interesting.

This latest offering from the organizers promises to make your book fair experience a lot smoother. Not only does the app provide information regarding the fair and daily events, but also helps locate individual stalls and utilities using maps and GPS. It makes stall-hopping easier by showing the shortest route to the stall you seek. Another advantage: it even works without an internet connection. The official website has a pop-out download link.

The official website, kolkatabookfair.net, has been revamped and now flaunts a new look. Along with other features, the site also has links to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages of the event. These social media plat forms provide day to-day updates about the event and can easily help one keep abreast of events. These also make the feed back possible and make things more interactive. These features coupled with the app take the event up a notch on the technological scale.

The theme of the fair this year is Great Britain and Rob Lynes, Director, British Council India, will be present dur ing the January 27 inauguration. The organizers have also focused on making access to the fair easier by creating more amenities. “There will be three additional bus terminuses around the fair venue along with cabs and allied services. The idea is to make the fair more accessible to book lovers,” said Tridib Kumar Chatterjee, the honorary general secretary of the executive committee. Moreover, the three-day Kolkata Literature Festival, which will start on February 6, will see a plethora of events that will fea ture Soumitra Chatterjee, Shobha De, Ramesh Sippy, Zeenat Aman, Ashok Banker, Amartya Sen, Adam Foulds and Rajdeep Sardesai, among others. Usha Uthup, Fossils, Alokananda Roy and group will also perform during the three days.

The privilege card that was introduced last year still stands, but this year, the organizers have joined hands with CESC to hand out coupons guaranteeing 15% discount on every purchase at the fair. The coupons will be distributed to all CESC consumers along with this month’s electricity bills.

The Kolkata Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Guild organized the first instalment of the book fair in 1976 with just 56 stalls. The entry fee was 50 paise! The fair traditionally starts on the last Wednesday of January, and ends on the first or second Sunday of February. Though it was a week-long event to start with, popular demand forced authorities to extend the duration to 12 days in 2005. It has been that way since It is the largest non-trade and the most-attended book fair in the world. It’s also the world’s largest annual conglomeration of books after the Frankfurt and London book fairs The fair, which is now held at the Milan Mela ground, had its share of accidents. In 1997, a massive fire destroyed over 10,000 books. In 1998, an untimely downpour wreaked havoc From the 1990s, the fair has always had a theme, typically focussing on a country. The theme country embassy is given a stall at the fairground centre and the gate is designed to match the theme.

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