Walking Book Fair? Yes, you heard it right! Books on Wheels!!
It might sound strange but there is a couple in India who has been wheeling books around the country! All for the cause of making books accessible to everyone and to promote book reading habit in India!
Since 2014, Akshay & Shatabdi, a couple from Bhuneshwar, Orissa load the books on a Van/ small pick up and take them to the hinterlands, where books are not accessible to the public.….just to make it accessible to the people!
What started with Orissa turned into Pan India when they took their walking book fair to the bigger cities, on popular demand. During their visit to Jaipur, in February 2016, I met them outside Home Cafe, an upmarket and popular hangout in C Scheme area of Jaipur. They had parked their truck outside this cafe for two full days so that people can come and buy books.
Dressed in cool smart casual, the couple seemed quite motivated for the cause of spreading the book reading habit, despite the roadblocks they were facing.
Akshay shared his views on books and habit of book reading at length. He spoke about the lack of public libraries in the country (wherever they went) and increasing digital footprint at the cost of book reading, the financial issues they were facing in their journey. At the same time, he also spoke of the warm welcome extended by the people, wherever they went. They came across people who have asked them to accept their collection of books, for furthering this cause. The discussion turned to the support extended by book publishing companies. They said that some companies do support them but the situation is far from the ideal. Ultimately, at the end of the day, things are tough.
I was informed that the Walking book fair was in Jaipur on the invitation of Jaipur Book lovers club. I ran into Vipul Murarka of Jaipur Book Lovers club as well, who was present on the occasion. He was their local contact person. Vipul informed me that Jaipur’s book lovers club is very active with membership in excess of 500 people. They meet regularly on Sundays at a popular cafe in Jaipur. In case you would like to join them, you can contact them through the Meetup page, Facebook page or their website.
In case you would like to help Akshay and Shatabdi to further the cause of book reading, you can contact them directly. The contact details are mentioned in the picture below.