Kolkata Book Fair
All the major book publishers of India set up stalls at the Kolkata Maidan. Publishers from other countries regularly participate. Books are available at amazing discounts.
The success of the Calcutta Book Fair has resulted in many book fairs in smaller cities in West Bengal like Siliguri, and was inspired, in turn, by the first World Book Fair at New Delhi in 1972.
The popularity of the Calcutta Book Fair was seminal in India being nominated the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2006, according to the Frankfurt Book Fair organizers. The book fair has been celebrated in theatre, literature, songs and limericks in Calcutta.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Calcutta played host to two annual book fairs, one by the Calcutta Publishers' and Booksellers' Guild, and one by the Government of West Bengal - the 'Grontho Mela' ('Grontho' is archaic Bengali word for book). 'Grontho Mela' used to be held in late December and continued till early January, and was the showcase for books published by Government-run publishing houses. While this was initially a rival commercial venture, the unprecedented growth of the 'Calcutta Book Fair' caused the Government of West Bengal to merge the two book fairs in 1992.
Conservation problems for the Victoria Memorial include high dust pollution, which is often accetuated by public fairs on the Maidan. The Calcutta High Court's 2004 decision to move all public fairs to the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass has not been greeted with enthusiasm by fair organizers due to the present location being in the heart of Calcutta, and being very well serviced by public transport. The book fair and a few other fairs, however, were granted special permission by the Calcutta High Court to continue holding the fair on the Maidan in 2005 and 2006. However, the choice of Maidan as the annual venue for the book fair is no longer certain.
A demand for a permanent round-the-year indoor space for the fair, typically comprising only some of the stalls, had been given by the fair authorities to the Government of West Bengal. The Chief Minister of West Bengal Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, in a statement in 2005, has agreed to this request.
However, many Calcuttans feel that the fair will lose its ambience if it is held indoors or away from the Maidan.
Calcutta institutions, which have their own press or publishing house typically host stalls - including the Indian Museum, Asiatic Society, survey institutes like Zoological Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Geological Survey of India, and universities like University of Calcutta, Jadavpur University.
Other notable annual
A stall hosted by the famous Calcutta artist Rathin Mitra, featuring his work. Rathin Mitra is famous for his panoramas of Calcutta
The food stall of BenFish (Bengal Fisheries) typically attracts more customers than most bookshops.
The initial rule that only publishers, and not institutions which just sold or distributed books but did not publish any books, can participate in the fair has been waved in the 2000s. This rule often forced small distributors to bring out a token publication just to be able to participate in the fair.
All first editions of books which are released in the fair are housed in a special release gallery. The Book Fair has been the annual show for Bengali little magazines since the inception of the fair. The little magazines are now housed in a special dedicated section in the fair.
From the 1990s, the Calcutta Book Fair also has a special section for budding artists, authors, poets and painters. It is called Montmartre after the Montmartre in Paris. It typically has poetry recitals, and live face sketching for patrons by upcoming artists.
The fair also has a special children's section starting from the 2000s.
Following the devastating fire of 1997, the food stalls have also shared a common enclave.
A number of events are held in conjunction with the book fair. A number of book signings and book releases with first edition distributions are held in conjunction with the fair, due to the high visibility of the fair
A series of seminars and talks by literati Competetive events for school children like essay writing and trivia sessions. The Walk for Books to raise money for child literacy programs Theme country events, including a talk by the Chief Guest
The Asoke Kumar Sarkar Memorial Lecture, the annual lecture delivered since 1984 by noted publishers and educationists like W. Bradford Wiley. The Book Bazaar, the auction held on the last day of the fair to auction off remainder stock, has been discontinued Propaganda
The Calcutta Book Fair attracts a lot of people looking for free propaganda and idea promotion. The most common propaganda are communist and Naxalite propaganda (reflecting the political history of Calcutta) and an annual feature is one about the geocentric theory of the Earth-Sun system. The fair does have its share of fair and useful propaganda, and relief fund raisers, along the lines of the Frankfurt Book Fair protest movement against the official German spelling reforms. Problems and Solutions The 1994 Calcutta Book Fair - showing the vast crowds, and the Kolkata skyline in the backgroundThe biggest problem the book fair faces are the huge crowds which visit the fair - crowd and litter control are a major issue at the fair.