The annual Vijayawada Book Fair has been running since January 3 and winds up today, January 12.

Numbers are hard to come by for events like these, but we know that past incarnations have typically sold books to the value of 3 crore rupees (R30,000,000 – about $420,000).

Heavy rain got the 2020 event off to a disappointing start, but reports since indicate a vibrant fair in visitor numbers, but not so much with book sales, with some booksellers expressing disappointment.

Local language sales seem to have been hardest hit:

The increase in craze for English language has resulted in slump in demand for Telugu books at the 31st Vijayawada Book Festival being held at Swaraj Maidan in the city. This is the view expressed by owners of stalls of Telugu books at the festival stating that the demand fell by 50 per cent.

“In the first week of the book festival this year, we are able to sell Telugu books worth Rs 75,000 ($1,000) only. Earlier, our sale figure used to be Rs 5 lakh ($7,000) in the first week itself. It is not that people have stopped reading, but because of increase in craze for English language, which is evident at the book festival as the stalls selling English books are attracting crowds.”

A few sellers of younger generation have technological ideas to increase the sale of Telugu books. “We are planning to start selling books online as we may get more visibility online than offline. Heavy discounts offered online is another attraction, which even we can use it to boost the sale of Telugu books. We are engineers and can design various programmes. My friends and I wish to start something like Kindle, which is an e-book to promote Telugu language,” said 33-year-old P Madhusudan, who took up the business of selling Telugu novels.

“If we want to preserve the language and its aesthetics then we have to go digital. We have to accept the fact that the percentage of hardbound book readers will certainly come down in the future. It is on us to decide whether to go for language and literature preservation or sale of hardbound books,” he said.

Via New Indian Express.

But let me wind up this post by returning to the far-sighted wanne-be digitizer of Telugu books.

Said 33-year-old P Madhusudan,

My friends and I wish to start something like Kindle.

At which point many might be asking themselves – there’s already a Kindle India store. What’s the problem?

The problem being, KDP only supports five Indian languages, and Telugu isn’t among them.