The fifth Coimbatore Book Festival has run its course and once again the nonsense talked about how smartphones are drawing people away from reading has hit a reality check. More people buying books.

More than 1.25 lakh (125,000) people visited the 10-day Coimbatore Book Festival which wound up at the weekend, with business worth Rs 1.5 crore (15 million rupees – almost a quarter million dollars), according to the Times of India.

Organised by the Coimbatore District Small Industries Association (CODISSIA) and the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), the event ran July 19 through July 28, with about 150 publishers present.

Here just to remind ourselves of a TNPS report just before the festival began.

According to The Hindu, R. Ramamurthy, president of Coimbatore District Small Industries Association, said the present generation must shift to the habit of reading, which had declined among today’s youth due to social media.

As noted in the TNPS rebuttal to that idea –

India’s Coimbatore Book Fair launches amid more nonsense about how social media and smartphones are killing the reading habit. It really is time publishers took the blinkers off

this is a faux narrative that is hindering India’s development as a major international publishing nation. From the TNPS post:

One of the problems – common to many countries – is that the publishers associations and the booksellers associations are, for understandable historical reasons, joined at the hip.

Nor a problem in a bygone era when the only meaningful way to sell books was through bookstores.

But when the dynamic changes, and alternatives to bookstores appear on the horizon, an inevitable conflict of interest arises.

And so, instead of embracing a hybrid print and digital model that will give publishers the best of both worlds, benefitting consumers and society, we see publishers, egged on by booksellers who regard digital as a threat, doubling down on the status quo.

Of course it’s very easy to believe it if you keep repeating the same nonsense over and over and obstinately refuse to look at any evidence to the contrary.

As the India book fair season picks up speed so we can expect to see more and more evidence of booklovers flooding to book fairs and festivals to buy books, even as digital sales pick up thanks to the proliferation of smartphones.