Friday, February 08, 2008

Kolkata exhibitors Wild(e)

To adapt the great Oscar Wilde, to lose one book fair may be seen as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness. For the second year running, the two million Indians looking forward to the Kolkata (or Calcutta, as I remember it) Book Fair were disappointed at the last moment when the fair was called off only 48 hours before it was due to open last month. It seems the local judiciary objected to the fair’s environmental impact on the showgrounds where it was due to take place and forbade it from going ahead. Well, two million pairs of feet can make quite an impact, I suppose. Disgruntled exhibitors—who spent a fortune shipping millions of books from all over India for the world’s most attended book fair—may have shrugged off the disappointment but for the fact that the same fair was cancelled at the last minute for the same reasons last year! As they shipped all their unsold stock home again, they might reasonably have been wondering just what the fair’s ‘organisers’ have been doing for the last 12 months. Here's to next year's fair: third time lucky?

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