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As India’s oldest, and Asia’s biggest book fair, the annual, 44-year-old New Delhi World Book Fair can be overwhelming even for the most diligent of bibliophiles. There will be sprawling pavilions full of literature, hosting over 2,500 stalls stacked high with books catering to every level of intellectual depth (or shallowness).

Any rookie visitor would tell you that entering this tempting maze is not only a long-winded journey, but also one that you might walk out of feeling dissatisfied at not having explored the lavish spread to its full potential. A part of this discontent is present in book lovers everywhere – remember the last trip to Blossom’s in Bangalore? Okay I can’t resist, you have to read this – but another part is purely practical inadequacy. This is why we’ve done some research so you can cruise reading down the rabbit hole instead of wildly tumbling.

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The Basics

It’s on between January 7 – 15, 2017.

Be there between 11 am and 8 pm. On the last day, i.e. Jan 15, the show ends at 5 pm. And they take their gate closures seriously.

Venue is the same as every year – Pragati Maidan.

Enter for Rs 20. Tow a kid along for an additional 10.

The Layout

It’s huge. See a map of the venue layout here. Not all of Pragati Maidan is just books. Below is a list of those halls hosting the fair, along with what to expect inside. For further details on specific publishers, visit the official NDWBF website and click on the ‘Draw Results’ of individual halls.

Hall 7A-D:  There are over 50 foreign exhibitors expected this year, including Japan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Poland, Spain, Egypt, Germany, China and Iran.

Hall 7E: Theme Pavilion featuring ‘Manushi’ – a collective exhibit of books written on and by the women.

Hall 8 – 11: General & Trade Publishers. Here you will find your usual suspects such as Penguin, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan, Jaico and Sahitya Akademi.

Hall 12 & 12A: Science & Education Publishers. 12A is Hindi/Indian language publishers.

Hall 14: Children Publishers is what the website says, but the list includes many science and education publishers as well.

Hall 18 Lower:  General & Trade / Science & Technology, Social Science & eBooks (Languages & Children Publishers). This one, along with Hall 18 Hangar includes such odd participants as DRDO and the indie Yoda Press. A must-visit.

The Preparation

There are a number of author interactions, book releases and seminars lined up, so it would pay to check the event line-up beforehand. Stay updated here.

Pay attention to Hamsadhwani Theatre, where the Sanskriti Utsav is being hosted. Lot of folk music, dance, drama, a Mushaira and a Hasya Kavi Sammelan. It’s going to be brilliant.

Mind you, there will be thousands of this particular species known as non-book lovers, they aren’t exactly allergic to literature but don’t much care for spending anything over Rs 30 on a book. They move in mobs, if you spot one just leave and return after an hour.

Avoid the last day. The above species shows up in hordes. If you do go last day, cab it if you can. Easier than dying over parking space or metro crowds.

Demonetisation has not been kind to the publishing industry (nor are there enough ATMs inside Pragati Maidan). Remember to carry cash.

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