The nine-day International Shimla Book Fair is proving to be a hit among the locals and tourists alike with over 10,000 persons thronging the book stalls at the Gaiety Theatre in Shimla.

“This year the footfall is around 10,000 to 11000 per day and both locals and tourists are showing great interest in buying the books and other art and culture related items on sale,” Sachin Kumar, the convener of the organizing committee said.

Kumar said the specific stalls selling local books, art and cultural traditions were allowed to set up for free because they aim to promote Pahari literature and art forms.

Laxman Kediya of Pratibuti publications, who is here from Kolkata to participate in the fair, lamented the current scenario on the downfall of readership, especially in Hindi and regional literature.

“The publication of books has increased because of the technological boom. There is a significant rise in the number of writers but readers have decreased. Besides, there is a popular rise of E-books and the readers of the English language while our own languages are being sidelined,” he rued.

“However, I think people will return to books after the boredom of technology as popular media is filled with rubbish,” he added.

The book fair which started on 8 June will conclude on 16 June. It is organized by Himachal Pradesh government in association with Ojas Center for Culture Art and Readership Development (OCARD).

There are 20 stalls of different publications, book vendors, and cultural departments. One such interesting stall is set up by the Ahmadiya Muslim community giving out free books on world peace and Islamic reformist views. The stall is an initiative to spread out the message of love and humanity through the habit of reading.

Among the visitors were many happy faces, students, and people of all age groups, awed by the range of books and the ambience of the Gaiety Theatre.

Local readers shared how they wait for such book fairs and it’s always a joy to be there because the books are not only cheap but cover many topics from famous literature in Hindi, English and in other regional languages, to art, science and scholarly journals.