The scorching summer temperatures are once again behind us in India, and the vibrant Indian book fair season is well underway. Book fairs, literary festivals, comic cons…

In Kolkata the 9th Bangladesh Book Fair is underway, reflecting the deep cultural cross-over between the two countries.

Inaugurated by Bangladesh foreign affairs minister Abul Kalam Abdul Momen along with Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh and Toufique Hasan, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh on Friday, the fair will last through until November 10.

In Indian terms the event is small in scale but enormous in value, acting as a showcase for Bengali (Bangla) literature from both countries.

India’s Millennium Post has more details.

Meanwhile the 21st North East Book Fair is also underway in India, this time in Guwahati, and at the opening session India’s Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, during the predictable speech about how important books are and how a reading culture should be developed, added that he would like to see a library in every village.

Noble sentiments, but, totally impractical and unaffordable, and that cannot possibly be meaningful, because so few books would be available.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu might do better to take a step back and look at a simple solution to making books available everywhere in the country: Digital.

With a population just shy of 1.4 billion, India started this century with just 5 million people online. Fast forward 2019 and India has 560 million people online, with the expectation of topping 800 million online early in the next decade. Over 700 million of those are expected to be using smartphones – ideal devices for consuming digital books.

Right now India publishers have few incentives to embrace digital beyond the levels they are already engaging at in the country. That is something Vice President Venkaiah Naidu might want to give some serious thought to.

A library in every village is a great sound-bite. Only thing is, it will never happen.

But how about a library on every smartphone in every village, every town and every city?

Now that would be a sound-bite worth hearing.