Naveen Gupta, General Secretary, Federation of Indian Publishers, told TFT’s Delhi correspondent about how Aryan publication became a known name in educational books industry and much more during the 22nd Delhi Book Fair. What he said about Delhi Book Fair is explored in the interview.

TFT: Give us a background of Delhi Book Fair. When and how was it started?
Naveen: – Federation of Indian Publishers is the co organiser of Delhi book fair which is organised by ITPO. We have been organising this fair since 22 years. This is the 22nd edition. This is the fair where Delhi’s book lovers come to find their interests for books. That’s why gradually Delhi book fair became popular among book lovers. In 22nd edition our prime focus was children. We have tried to attract kids to books and I can say that we achieved it because the fair was visited by a lot of students. There were a lot of school students.
Due to the kind of response that we received, ITPO’s CMD gave us the permission to open the fair at 10am instead of the usual 11am, and due to this time change student were able to visit the fair during schools hours. Secondly, entry was absolutely free for each and every student who had their school ID.

TFT: What was the theme of this year’s book fair?
Naveen : – Our focus was on Self Strength. This is the reason why there were all stalls from Indian publishers. As our government is supporting by their schemes like Startup & Stand up India, Make in India, Digital India and Swachh Bharat. We used all this schemes as a theme of the fair.

TFT: What was new about this fair?
Naveen : – As I told you this time our complete focus was on kids. For the first time we had a story telling program with the help of NBT. We did a puppet show as well. We will carry on with these cultural activities in the upcoming fair too.

TFT: How is Delhi Book Fair different as compared to World Book Fair?
Naveen :- The World Book Fair is for trade people but Delhi book fair is for the readers. For the World book fair, their visitors are mostly from the trade sector. We organised the Delhi book fair when maximum number of school’s half yearly exams were over and students and parents were free. We need a fair for trade definitely, but we also need a fair which connects readers directly. We also need a fair for book lovers and this fair is for them. You can find a book of a particular author anywhere, but what about those who are new? So this fair gives a platform to new publishers and authors. This is the beauty of Delhi book fair.

TFT: Why did we not see any big publishing houses at the fair?
Naveen :- Yes they are not here but what is it that we call big? Some publishers did not come due to their problems and some due to their policy. When Chetan Bhagat wrote his first novel, was he a big writer? When my father started Aryan publication in 1952, was it a big name? But when in 1995, I published my first Indian book and people said why I’m doing this foolish thing. Narayan house became a known name.
That time for medical education there were no Indian writers and that’s why people used to call me a fool. They told me for medical books they had overseas writer how can I think of doing something like this.
But today, I can proudly say that I introduced about 50 Indian medical writers under Aryan Publication house and not a single foreign writer. May be big publishers feel that they do not need us that’s why they didn’t come. May be we took a late initiative that’s why they did not attended the fair. But the situation will change in a few years and what you call big, the reputed names in publication houses; will also be seen at the fair.

TFT: How many exhibitors participated this year?
Naveen : – We had about 400 stalls. Almost 180 publishers were present. They all were spread across five halls.

TFT: So there were only Delhi publishers?
Naveen : – No, publishers from outside Delhi were also here. Like Gorakhpur’s Geeta press was here, American embassy was also present here. So there were many publishers from all over the country.

TFT: How many book lovers attended the fair?
Naveen : – You will be surprised that we did not keep any record about free entry. We distributed around 1 lac passes to educational institutes, schools, colleges and writers & readers. If we exclude the three days of heavy rains, the footfall was a blockbuster. Each hall was packed with book enthusiasts. But that doesn’t mean that there were no people coming on rainy days, it was only less as compared to the other days.

TFT: This year Delhi book fair organizers failed to provide basic facilities to the visitors as well as exhibitors like drinking water!
Naveen : – We did a meeting with ITPO. We tried that this kind of thing should not happen but it happened somehow. I requested all exhibitors and visitors that they should come and tell us about the problems they were facing.

TFT: How do you see the digital media affectig the book industry?
Naveen : – It is our supporter. If someone reads a book and likes it, they will definitely come to buy that book. Due to digital media, books have even spread towards the small cities. Earlier they were only based in metro cities. In America digital media affects books business because their books prices are too high.
But I can proudly say that book prices in India are less with good quality as compared to America’s digital books.