Pandemic shattered book-publishing looks for new possibilities

Guwahati: Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic induced national lockdown, the
process of publication and marketing of Assamese books have reemerged
with new approaches to the technology driven profession for the
interest of valued readers around the world. The pandemic had severely
affected the publication industry but at the same time it has
indirectly helped in increasing the number of readers precisely among
the new generation.

An intriguing session at 33rd Guwahati Book Fair, presently going on
at Assam Engineering Institute playground in Chandmari locality of the
city, observed many issues related to the physical publication of
books & newspapers along with the positive note that more people have
regained the habit of reading and many young people lately joined the
list of committed readers irrespective of the paper-printed books or
digital outlets.

Inaugurating the session dedicated to the theme of crisis and
possibilities of book publication in post-corona era on 3 January
afternoon, an Assam based senior publisher Nabin Barua described the
hardship faced by the publication houses across Assam, soon after the
corona-pandemic hit the country early last year. He however opined
that the disaster helped everyone to redefine his life in a tricky and
isolated ambience.

Chaired by author-journalist Nava Thakuria, the session was also
addressed by young publishers namely Pritima Kaushik Barua, Manish
Hazarika, Dhiraj Lahkar, Amrit Upadhaya, Farhan Javed, Buljit
Buragohain along with award winning Assamese author Bipul Deuri. They
were unanimous in their views that the new technology of publication,
promotion and marketing has brought a better deal for quality
publishers.

Literary magazine editor Mihir Deuri, journalist Dixit Sarma, writers
Geetali Borah, Nabajyoti Pathak, Rupam Dutta, Jintu Thakuria,
Nripen Dutta also participated in the discussion and raised concerns
over the decreasing number of readers in various regional languages
and opined their expectation to promote Assamese as an internet-savvy
language reaching to millions of readers around the world.

Meanwhile, thousands of book lovers continue to throng at Guwahati
Granthamela every day since twelve-day book fair was inaugurated on 30
December. Postponed two times because of political unrests in 2019
and the pandemic early this year, Granthamela witnesses the
participation of over 125 stalls where the entry is made free to
encourage more participations of bookworm. A number of literary
discussions, book release functions and spectacular cultural evenings
continue to make the ambience enthralling.

Organized by the State-run Publication Board Assam maintaining
necessary health protocols due to the corona-crisis, Guwahati
Granthamela emerges as an important public function in the city.
Formally inaugurated by Assam chief minister’s media adviser
Hrishikesh Goswami in presence of noted intellectual Tathagata Roy,
renowned litterateur Yeshe Dorjee Thongshi with other dignitaries the
book fair has brought desired reliefs to publishers and delights to
bookworms.

“Asom Prakasan Parisad continued its activities facing various
challenges during the novel corona virus induced shut down. We have
reprinted 41 important books and published 31 new ones. The readers
have shown significant appreciations to our efforts,” said Pramod
Kalita, secretary to the publication board, which launched the book
fair movement in early eighties initially in collaboration with
National Book Trust of India.

While inaugurating the book fair, Goswami, who represented CM
Sarbananda Sonowal in the function, commented that books are the oasis
in deserts nurturing the intellectual and creative capacities of the
the human race. He also conferred Asom Prakasan Parisad’s lifetime
achievement award for 2019 carrying a citation, corsets, two lakh
rupees check, etc on eminent Assamese scholar Dr Thaneswar Sarma.
Former Governor of Tripura, Meghalaya & Arunachal Pradesh, Roy in
his speech termed Assamese as a sweet language and expressed hope that
the bonhomie between Assamese and Bengali people would continue
in future too. A resident of West Bengal but familiar with the
Assamese society, the outspoken author observed that the
National Education Policy 2020 should immensely help in highlighting
the regional languages and their literature.

Sahitya Academy awardee Thongshi, who is a resident of neighbouring
Arunachal Pradesh and very popular in Assamese literary circle,
described various challenges surfaced due to the corona-pandemic. He
derived a positive note out of the pandemic with the increase of
quality readers across the world. Thongshi expressed happiness that a
collection of literary pieces penned by another Arunachali litterateur
Lumber Dai was also released in the function.

A stall dedicated to the Bangladesh literature and another showcasing
the Tibetan culture add colours to the book fair. The freedom movement
led by exile Tibetans against the Communist regime in Beijing also
comes alive in the stall which was opened by Tibetan support group
leader RK Khrimey and managed by Buddha enthusiast Soumyadeep Datta. A
strong message narrating that Tibet is the real neighbour to India
(not China) continues to reach thousands of visitors to the festival
venue.

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