With over 7 lakh books and 750 vendors from across the state, the 43rd edition of the Chennai Book Fair at the YMCA Grounds, Nandanam has failed to draw in a crowd. Despite a 10 per cent discount, vendors said that the business was extremely slow, mainly because of the stiff competition from online retailers.
But, Silambarasan M from Sapna books reports that there still remains a loyal consumer base for buying books from a store. “For bibliophiles who visit our store, it is both an act of supporting local businesses as well as being able to touch and even smell the paper, and to be able to choose a book from a shelf — which is very important for some,” he said.
Speaking about the sales, Shankar R, the founder of Eshwar Book Centre in Puzhal, said that fiction in English seems to be much in demand while self-help, motivational, and study guides are popular in Tamil.
While the shopkeepers are still hopeful of a better sale, the fall in the reading habit in recent years has also caused concerns for their business, said Shankar.
“With the advent of technology like smartphones, it is easier to occupy children by playing music or a video. While smartphones give access to a lot of media, they also decrease attention span,” he said.
Cultivating the reading habit is an uphill task that requires parental support and motivation from teachers, Silambarasan said. “Children need to find the joy in reading again. For many, their first role model was not a person, but a book. When that’s the case, they can return to the book for inspiration for the rest of their lives,” he added.