LAHORE, Feb 16: The Johar Town Expo Centre was abuzz with activity on Saturday as thousands of people, many families and students among them, turned up to enjoy the world of books.
The Lahore International Book Fair (LIBF) has organised the event which is scheduled to conclude on Monday. More than 350 stalls are offering a variety of books on religion, literature, politics, history, journalism, law… the list goes on. Fiction, old magazines and children’s books remained a major attraction for the visitors.
Also on display are books by publishers from India, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, the UK and the US. The discounts range between 15 per cent and 35 per cent; some stuff is offered at half price. There are a couple of stalls of stationery items and playthings for young ones.
Intermittent rain made the weather pleasant as the crowd built up in the afternoon. The children were found looking for story books as well as supplementary readings to strengthen their regular studies at different stalls.
A private school student, Muhammad Qasim told Dawn that he had selected a number of action, adventure and thriller books and would be more than happy to go through them all.
Aleena, along with her children, visited the book fair and expressed her elation at a variety of books at affordable prices. “Such book fairs help children develop interest in reading, taking break from computer games and technological devices,” she said.
Ms Aqsa said she felt a refreshing feeling as she drove inside the Expo Centre. Although it took her quite some time to park her vehicle in a cramped space, she felt more than compensated by “nice display of books in two halls”.
A UET student, Asim Javed, drenched in rainwater, said he had to rush to the book fair to look for some engineering books as he was scheduled to leave for Islamabad this evening.
Students of many schools came to the book fair. Most children below 10 were first glued to drawing and other competitions organised by a publisher. The winners won caps on completing their drawings.
Rahul Singhal, the CEO of Delhi-based XACT Group of Companies, has come to Pakistan for the first time. “Collaboration between India and Pakistan can play a vital role in providing readers with quality books at affordable prices,” he said.
British broadcaster BBC and German broadcaster DW have also set up their stalls to introduce their Urdu websites and prominent journalists were available at these stalls to interact with people.
Speaking to reporters, representatives at different stalls said they were overwhelmed by the response from Lahorites who had come in large numbers braving rain and chill.
Harmony Publications, Turkey, representative Yakup On said the people’s response at the book fair was much better this year than it was last year. There was low turnout on the first two days but the weekend had made up for it, keeping them on their toes. He expected similar enthusiasm on Sunday and Monday.
He said the publishing house would be looking for more opportunities to publish its books in Pakistan to reduce the cost incurred on import and other duties. “A Rs2,500 worth of a book can be made available at a rate of just Rs700, if printed in Pakistan,” he claimed.
LIBF organiser Salim Malik said the total number of visitors in 2012 was over 500,000 and it was expected to exceed 700,000 this year.