VIJAYAWADA: The increase in craze for English language has resulted in slump in demand for Telugu books at the 31st Vijayawada Book Festival being held at Swaraj Maidan in the city. This is the view expressed by owners of stalls of Telugu books at the festival stating that the demand fell by 50 per cent.
"In the first week of the book festival this year, we are able to sell Telugu books worth Rs 75,000 only. Earlier, our sale figure used to be Rs 5 lakh in the first week itself. It is not that people have stopped reading, but because of increase in craze for English language, which is evident at the book festival as the stalls selling English books are attracting crowds," said Lakshman Rao, a seller of Telugu books.
Revealing the current trend, 22-year-old Bhagya Pushkar said, "I used to read Telugu books. After being told by my friends that reading English books will enable me to enhance my command on the language, which is essential in the competitive world, I switched to reading English books. Now, I find them more interesting. May be I do not have that much knowledge of Telugu literature, but I have discovered that English literature is very vast. At the same time, I also agree that we should not stop reading books in regional language." Despite the decrease in sales, the sellers are reluctant to stop publishing or selling Telugu books.
‘Going digital only way to save Telugu literature’
"Telugu language is facing a threat now. If we stop selling Telugu books, the language may be extinct in the near future. We have to keep promoting Telugu language. I think this is the only way to preserve the rich Telugu literature," said Bhagyalakshmi Naidu, another seller.
A few sellers of younger generation have technological ideas to increase the sale of Telugu books. "We are planning to start selling books online as we may get more visibility online than offline. Heavy discounts offered online is another attraction, which even we can use it to boost the sale of Telugu books. We are engineers and can design various programmes. My friends and I wish to start something like Kindle, which is an e-book to promote Telugu language,” said 33-year-old P Madhusudan, who took up the business of selling Telugu novels.
"If we want to preserve the language and its aesthetics then we have to go digital. We have to accept the fact that the percentage of hardbound book readers will certainly come down in the future. It is on us to decide whether to go for language and literature preservation or sale of hardbound books," he said.
The State government’s decision to introduce English medium in government schools from Class I to VI from the next academic year has an adverse impact on the sale of Telugu books, said another seller.
"I noticed crowds at the stalls selling books which teach English alphabets, names of months, seasons and numbers in words. I am of the view that the policy decision taken by the government to introduce English medium may be one of the reasons for the slump in demand for Telugu books," said a seller on the condition of anonymity.