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Book fair: 262 points to grab old, new books.

Byline: Irfan Aslam

LAHORE -- The Lahore International Book Fair (LIBF) has become an integral part of the cultural milieu of Lahore, mainly due to its consistency. Its 33nd edition opened at the Expo Centre, Johar Town, on Thursday.

Book fairs attract bibliophiles and readers because they can find books and publishers at one place. If one manages to find a unique book at a fair, they can consider their visit fruitful. One such stall at the LIBF is 'Siddiqqi Rare Antique Books' in the farthest left corner of the centre.

'Here at the bookstall, we have got a book on Nizam of Hyderabad, which is the only copy in the world. Its writer had sent to Nizam for proofreading. This element makes it more unique. Besides, I've got the World Atlas of 1834 whose price is about Rs1 million,' says Haroon Siddiqqi, the owner of the stall. He adds that the stall has inexpensive books as well very expensive for all kinds of readers. The books on the life of Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali, written during their life, were also available. 'The book on Tipu Sultan's life was written in 1794 while he was martyred by the British in 1799. I have got Arabian Nights in 12 volumes published in 1898 while most of people think it has 10 volumes,' Mr Siddiqqi informs.

The same stall has selected works of Lenin in three volumes, Kulyaat Ghazliat of Khusrau in four volumes, works of Ferdowsi and complete works of Shakespeare.

The biggest stall of the LIBF has been set up by Readings which is offering a 15pc discount.

'We have got about 100,000 books here at the stalls,' says Rukhsar Anjum of the Readings. He says many customers come to book fair to buy the stock for the whole year as our bookshop doesn't offer any discount but here they find the books on discount. He says families come with children to buy books and the customers who don't frequent the shop also visit the stall here.

Renowned poet Fatima Hassan, secretary of Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu, also set up the stall. 'We go to every book fair across the country. The Anjuman publishes books which are not printed by other publishers. Most of books in Urdu are used by researchers, especially those doing MPhil and PhD,' she said, adding their library which has more than 100,000 books was open to students and researchers in Karachi.

Fatima has come from Karachi for the book fair and the stall offers a 40pc discount while the books of Urdu Science Board in the same stall has 70pc discount.

The Oxford University Press is offering the biggest discount as many of its books are available at 50pc discount. Sang-i-Meel is holding one of the biggest stalls.

Saad Saleem, one of the organisers, says the format of the book fair has been changed a bit this year. 'We have a designated space at one corner as an activity area for children where contests and different activities like story telling session would continue for five days.'

Saad adds that there are prizes for select customers through lucky draw.

'We've given ballot tickets to all the stall holders who give these tickets to the customers of their choice. The draw happens every two hours and the winners get prizes,' he says.

The fair has 262 stalls this year.

'Last year, 500,000 people visited the fair and we're expecting more this year.'

In the morning, Punjab Minister for Education Rana Mashhood opened the fair where Baba Yahya, Dr Sughra Sadaf and Qasim Ali Shah also spoke.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Feb 2, 2018
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