International Kolkata Book Fair

International Kolkata Book Fair
The International Kolkata Book Fair (formerly known in English as Calcutta Book Fair) is the largest and oldest book fair in India, as well as one of the most important events of its kind in Asia. With a total attendance over 2 million people every year, it is one of the world’s largest book fairs.

The history of the International Kolkata Book Fair began in 1974, when a group of Indian publishers gathered to discuss issues concerning further development of the country’s publishing industry. As a result, they formed the Publishers & Booksellers Guild, Kolkata to promote reading habits among the public (which is especially important as India has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world) and to extend help to the publishers and booksellers. The first edition of the Kolkata Book Fair was held in 1976. It was a small-scale event which turned out quite successful, so the Guild decided to hold it each year. Since then, the fair has been growing consistently.

The International Kolkata Book Fair traditionally opens on the last Wednesday of January and runs through the first or second Sunday of February, lasting for 12 days. It was initially a week-long event but the duration was extended in 2005 due to popular demand. Starting from the 1990s, each edition of the fair has had a theme, which is typically a country or region, similar to the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Guest of Honor. Many exhibitors participating in the fair present special book collections based on the theme. Past themes include Zimbabwe, France, the UK, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Cuba, Chile, Australia, the US, and others.

Most books exhibited at the fair are either in Bengali or in English, although books in other languages are presented, too. Almost all major Indian publishers and a lot of European publishers participate in the International Kolkata Book Fair as exhibitors. The theme country always has a separate stall.

Alongside one of the world’s largest book exhibitions, the International Kolkata Book Fair features other exciting events and activities. Among the fair’s highlights there are Q&A sessions, panels and book signings featuring famous writers, a show for Bengali little magazines, a special children’s session, a series of talks and seminars, literary competitions for school students, fundraising events for literacy programs, theme country events, etc.

In the 1990s, a special section for budding authors and artists was established. It was named Montmartre after Paris’s district known for its artistic atmosphere. An important event held in conjunction with the book fair is the Asoke Kumar Sarkar Memorial Lecture delivered by a noted publisher or educator.

International Kolkata Book Fair

Photo by Srijan Kundu




Related Articles