CHENNAI: The annual Chennai Book Fair is set to begin on Wednesday (February 24) at the YMCA grounds in Nandanam and will be on till March 9.
With several new writers emerging during the lockdown which also rekindled the love of reading in many, the organisers, Booksellers' and Publishers’ Association of South India (BAPASI), are expecting a better turnout than last year.
“We have made sure all COVID-19 protocols are in place. We insist on everyone wearing masks and those who come without them will be given masks at the fair. Sanitisers will be kept at regular intervals,” said RS Shanmugam, President, BAPASI.
This year, around 700 stalls will be put up and there will also be a ‘rack’ system for publishers who cannot afford rents for stalls.
“In a hall, we will allot racks for those who cannot afford to pay rent for stalls. They can, instead, get a rack and display their books there,” said Shanmugam.
As it is, the rent for stalls has been lowered, to help publishers who have been hit by the pandemic.
“The pandemic has affected publishers and they were apprehensive about the rent. So, we have reduced the rent for stalls by 20%,” Shanmugam said.
He added that Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam has rented two stalls where books including those recommended by the actor in the popular Tamil show Bigg Boss which he hosts will be on display. The actor will also be tweeting out his favourite titles throughout the course of the fair.
“Similarly Agaram foundation (founded by actor Suriya) has also rented a stall. Through sponsorship, the foundation is looking to gift books worth Rs 5000 each to 500 government schools,” he said.
The fair is expected to come as a relief to book lovers amidst rumours that it may not be held this year due to the pandemic. The fair is usually held in January to coincide with Pongal holidays. Barring the delay in the dates held, the fair is expected to go on as usual.
“People who work in Chennai generally go back to their hometowns for Pongal and won’t be able to attend the book fair. This year, everyone will be able to come,” he said.
There are several events lined up including a special all woman’s show on International Women’s Day on March 8 and a storytelling competition for children.
The fair will go on from 11 am to 8 pm. Entry charges are at Rs 10 per head.