LAHORE: These are times of election while inflation is also hitting the people hard but the Lahore International Book Fair is luring booklovers to Expo Centre just like before.

The first two days of the book fair that started on Feb 1 witnessed a thin attendance. One suspected that perhaps the election and skyrocketing inflation are keeping them away. However, the impression got dissolved on the third day (Saturday) when the people thronged the fair in droves. The biggest attendance is being drawn by the famous publishers offering the biggest discount of 50pc on their publications as well as a couple of old books stalls. The Readings, Sang-i-Meel and Ilm-o-Irfan Publishers’ stalls are having a great rush of people.

Rafaqat Hayat, a Karachi-based novelist, had a soft launch of his Urdu novel, Rolaak, at the Readings stall. It’s his first visit to the LIBF this year. He liked the book fair but said it was not as big as the Karachi International Book Fair.

“Here, most books are of literature but in Karachi, there are myriad titles. There is more rush of people at the book fair in Karachi which has 150,000 people visiting it per day,” he says.

Haroon Siddiqui, holding the Siddiqui Vintage Book stall at the fair, said that on the first day, the attendance was very thin but most of them were buyers, the second day had only those who were doing “window shopping” while the third day (Saturday) had the most number of people so far. “The numbers are expected to increase tomorrow being Sunday and Monday as well due to the holiday (Kashmir Day).”

Like always, Siddiqui has brought some rare collection of books this time. The rarest of them all is the book is an old edition of British Gallery of Pictures: Galleries and Private Collection, having fifty line engravings, from the private collection of the Begum of Bhopal. Siddiqui says the book is one of the rarest books in the whole world and it was gifted to Nawab Begum of Bhopal in the 1850s by a British officer. The stall has got rare collections of books on Chughtai and Sadequain while it has also got Sartor Resartus by Thomas Carlyle with a handwritten letter by him.

Arman Ali at the old stalls complains of inflation, which has hit the book sellers too, saying that rent of one stall has been raised to Rs85,000 this year and they have got five stalls.

The book fair is witnessing the people of all ages, including children, teenagers and most of all students.

Marjaan, an O Level student who was accompanied by her father, had bought four books of her choice. She said she was a regular at the LIBF every year. Her father said it’s a blessing that such events were being held in Lahore and he always looked forward to them.

Yaseen of Bahawalnagar bought books not only from himself but his friend in Fort Abbas and Sindh who requested him to buy certain titles for them. He liked 50pc discount on popular titles published by Sang-i-Meel whose price tag is generally considered higher compared to other publishers.

C-Old Books is another stall that is having the English book titles that you don’t find around usually. Muhammad Ali, its owner, said that they had come from Karachi where they had a shop at Boat Basin in Clifton.

“We have been bringing books to this fair for the last five/six years regularly. This year too, we have brought about 5,000 books for two stalls.” The book fair will continue on today and tomorrow.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Unyielding onslaught
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...
X diplomacy
Updated 12 Jun, 2024

X diplomacy

Both states can pursue adversarial policies, or come to the negotiating table and frankly discuss all outstanding issues, which can be tackled through dialogue.
Strange decisions
12 Jun, 2024

Strange decisions

THE ECP continues to wade deeper and deeper into controversy. Through its most recent decision, it had granted major...
Interest rate cut
Updated 11 Jun, 2024

Interest rate cut

The decision underscores SBP’s confidence that economic stability is gaining traction.
Rampant zealotry
11 Jun, 2024

Rampant zealotry

Decades of myopic policies pursued by the state have further aided the radicalisation of significant portions of the population.
Cricket breakdown
11 Jun, 2024

Cricket breakdown

THERE was a feeling that Pakistan had finally turned the corner in their T20 World Cup campaign. Sadly, it was only ...