Organisers say getting Palace Grounds for 10 days remains problematic.

Bad news for bibliophiles Bengaluru wont have a book festival this year too
news Books Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 19:30

There’s disappointment in store for book lovers in the city, as the much-awaited Bengaluru Book Festival will not be held for the second year in a row.

Organisers of the fest, the Bangalore Booksellers’ and Publishers’ Association, say that they have been facing difficulty in getting Palace Grounds as a venue for the event. The current rules do not allow permission to be given for events beyond three days and the book fest is a ten-day-long affair.

The last time the book festival was held in Bengaluru was in 2015 when the association had approached the Karnataka High Court which granted permission to conduct the event for seven days.

"In 2016, when we applied again, the HC gave us permission for just five days and that is not feasible," Devaru Bhat, Secretary of the association, tells The News Minute.

"This is not practical. People are bringing books from different parts of the country. Some get 500 or 1,000 boxes of books. Lots of work and money is involved in it. And two or three days is simply not enough for sales," he adds.

Bhat explains that the central location of Palace Grounds makes it an ideal venue, attracting people from all corners of the city.

It was in 2012 that the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms formed new rules for leasing out Palace Grounds. This is when the association's troubles began.

They approached the Karnataka High Court in 2013 and since the court's verdict was taking time, in 2014 they hurriedly chose JP Nagar for the book fair. "And we burnt our fingers," he states.

The fest in JP Nagar was a flop show. It failed to attract readers and the crowd participation was also poor.

While the association is a no-profit-no-loss organisation, it "lost money very heavily" in the previous two editions.

"We learnt that location is important. If we conduct the event in South Bangalore like JP Nagar or Jayanagar, do you think people from Malleswaram, Rajajinagar, Yesvantpur, Matikere will travel all the way? They will not," Bhat says.

The book festival ran ten-day shows successfully from 2003-2012 and Bhat says in each edition they received a footfall of around a lakh, i.e. only from ticket sales and not including the free passes it gave to several groups.

"They were proper exhibitions that opened on a Friday and closed on the next Sunday. This way we got two weekends. If it is a long event, even advertisement wise we can spend a little less money and make it known to public through different media," Bhat observes.

He also points out that whether it is a seven or ten-day event, the rentals and construction costs remain the same. "And the book industry is at crossroads because of the online onslaught. We can't increase the stall rates considerably to meet our expenses and we can't sacrifice on publicity either."

The association says it can't conduct the event on its own now without financial help from the government or its agencies.

"Everybody is disappointed. The readers, the distributors, the publishers. And so are we. But what can we do? We too have to meet ends. Our hands are tied," Bhat states. 

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