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Over 20 Countries, 900 Stalls: 46th International Kolkata Book Fair to Start Amid Much fanfare

The Kolkata Book Fair is the second in dimension and footfall after the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Over 20 Countries, 900 Stalls: 46th International Kolkata Book Fair to Start Amid Much fanfare

Photographed during the 41st International Kolkata Book Fair at Milan Mela Complex that organised by the Publishers & Booksellers Guild, Kolkata. Image Courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons

Kolkata: With 900 hundred stalls, better CCTV coverage, a couple of national jute board-sponsored kiosks to reduce the usage of plastics, a separate bus terminus for visitors, a security watchtower and bio-toilets, the new look of International Kolkata Book Fair 2023 is being readied. This year, the book fair events will also be televised live on the websites of IKBF 23.

With just nine days left for the Book Fair to begin, the Boimela Prangan or book fairground, is being set up. Out of the 900 stalls,
there will be 700 book stalls and 200 Little Magazine stalls.

The Book Fair, popularly known as the Boi Mela in Bengali, is the second in dimension and footfall after the Frankfurt Book Fair. It is the second largest Book fair in the world, which will be inaugurated at 2 pm on January 30 by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the presence of María José Gálvez Salvador, director general of books and promotion of reading, Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Shri Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay, a famous Bengali author who is slated to receive CESC RP Goenka Shrishti Samman, will also grace the occasion.

The fair will be open to visitors between January 31 and February 12. Spain is the focal country of Book Fair 2023, which will also host the 9th Kolkata Literature Festival from February 9 to 11 at the SBI Auditorium on its premises.

Around 20 countries across the globe will be participating in the book fair. Thailand, for the first time, will be present at the fair.

Talking with NewsClick, Tridib Kumar Chatterjee, Honorary General Secretary of the Booksellers and Publishers Guild, the organiser of the fair, said that this year the guild has allotted stalls to many more new small and medium publishers at the book fair.

There will be nine entry and exit gates in the IBKF 23 for easy movement of visitors.

One of the gates will be a replica of the famous Toledo Gate of Spain. Among other gates, there will be the Biswabangla Gate, based on the brand promoted by the Mamata Banerjee-led state government.

The two main halls of the book fair, having mainly English publications, have been named after poets Michael Madhusudan Dutta and Pyaricharan Sarkar to commemorate the bicentenary of their births. The Little Magazine stalls will be named after author and editor Ramapada Choudhury to observe his birth centenary.

There will also be a WiFi-enabled HDFC ERGO press corner and two open stages named after departed filmmakers Mrinal Sen and Tarun Majumdar. The children’s pavilion will be based on the characters of ‘Abol Tabol’ (a legendary limerick book written by Sukumar Roy, father of filmmaker Satyajit Roy), to celebrate 100 years of its publication.

This year, the transport department has assured the bookfair authorities of additional bus service. For the first time this year,
there will be a direct metro connection between Sealdah and Karunamoyee and Central Park stations; the latter two are close to the fairgrounds. Bidhan nagar police will also fix the local autorickshaw fairs for the book fair.

The state forest department has come forward to make the book fair green and eco-friendly.

In a first, the IBKF 23 Andriod APP is also being prepared by Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation, one of the sponsors of the book fair.

There will daily lotteries from where free book gift coupon will be given to the of Rs 15000 per day to winners of the lottery .

There will also be a scheme called “buy books and win a book library ‘as a commitment to society book bumper library lottery will be held and a good number of winners will will book coupons of rs 25000 each to buy books from the fair and own a mini library of books in their homes . Broadband services and e-connectivity will be available at designated zones of the fair at a free basis .

Chatterjee mentioned the highlights of the infrastructure that is being readied. “The chief secretary had called a meeting with
stakeholders at Nabanna under the instructions of the chief minister. The meeting was attended by representatives of the information and cultural affairs department, security, fire brigade, health and urban development departments, KMDA, Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation and West Bengal Electricity Board,” he said.

In a bid to increase the vigil cover, the number of CCTV cameras will be increased. A separate Book Fair bus terminus will be set up. Traffic management will also be handled to avoid the massive traffic jams at the Karunamoyee crossing and its vicinity during the fair. KMDA will be setting up a permanent control room for the police and fire brigade personnel; to add more vigil, a watchtower is being installed.

“Food stalls will be set up outside the fairground near the water body. This year, in the history of the Book Fair, we have the maximum number of new publishers,” said Sudhangshu Sekhar Dey, president of Publishers and Booksellers Guild.

“The number of stalls has increased to almost 900. There are small, medium and large stalls. This is inclusive of Bangladesh and other foreign participants. There will be two halls with English books. All multinational and national publishers like Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Bloomsbury, and Pan Macmillan will participate. The tagline is ‘Boi Porun, Boi Kinun, Boi Upohaar Din’ (Read Books, Buy Books, Gift Books),” Chatterjee said.

The newly launched Metro Sealdah-Sector V route has made the Boimela Prangan more accessible. “We are also requesting the authorities to run the Metro on Sundays during the Book Fair and with more intense frequency,” Chatterjee added.

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