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KARACHI, Dec 4: “Only seven of the 21 Indian stalls at the 8th Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF) 2012 have sent in their confirmations as the rest are facing visa issues. The National Book Trust of India stall will now be managed by the National Book Foundation (NBF) as the former also couldn’t acquire the visas,” said Aziz Khalid of the Urdu Academy, Sindh, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association (PPBA), one of the fair organisers, here at a press conference on Tuesday.

“This is unfortunate but what can one do or say about it? It has been like this on both sides,” he said. “So since the books have arrived and the people have not, the NBF will be taking care of their books.”

Mr Khalid went on to say that KIBF this year would have 38 international stalls. “After India with their 21 stalls, the next biggest participant is Iran followed by Turkey, Singapore and Dubai, a new entry.”

Owais Mirza Jamil of Elite Publishers, who is also the KIBF convener, said in all there will be 310 stalls, 70 more than the last time. “And being held for five days, from Dec 6 to 10, with people crowding the stalls from 10am to 9pm, it is the longest and most popular exhibition at the Expo Centre,” he said.

It was also said that KIBF would especially promote new authors. “I’m happy that my suggestion about promoting new and self-published authors was taken up and accepted. These authors who cannot as yet afford stalls that cost around Rs33,000 can have a space with a table and two chairs for Rs5,000 only. They can display their copies and sign books there,” said former KIBF convener Iqbal Saleh Mohammad of Paramount Books.

About book prices and discounts, the PPBA chairman said they were asking booksellers to give good discounts but the matter was really up to them.

“There are different concessions and discounts for different books,” he said.

The books will be mostly in English and Urdu but there will be many in Sindhi and other regional languages, too, besides educational and religious books. “Other than the ones published here, the National Book Trust of India will also have Sindhi books. Besides there will also be books from the Pushto Academy and Balochistan and Punjab,” said Mr Khalid.

About the absence of some big publishers here such as Oxford University Press, Ferozsons, etc, he said they had their own varied reasons for not coming. “But there are plenty of new names that will be playing their part in developing and promoting the reading habit that we have been trying to do for eight years now since the inception of KIBF in 2005 to create a soft image of Pakistan,” he concluded.