Thursday, November 13, 2014

It’s back to books for young minds

Sharjah: The unprecedented participation by students and youngsters at the 33rd Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) sends an unambiguous message: the GenNext is hanging on to the book-reading habit, and in fact, even more enthusiastically.
A talk with a cross-section of participants at the fair more than reinforced this viewpoint.
Ahmad Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Director of SIBF, has revealed that the number of visitors during the first three days of the fair itself exceeded 465,000, a number that is exceptional in the history of the event. According to indications, youngsters formed a major portion of the crowd. 
The number of participating publishing houses has reached 1,256 and cuts across 59 countries.
The enthusiasm at the venue looks overwhelming. 
Jason Mathew of DC Books said he was happy with the extremely good response, especially from children. “Among those in much demand were children’s books, cookery, fiction, non-fiction and motivation. There is also a good demand for Malayalam books,” he noted.
Asked whether his stall had enough stock of books, he replied, “We have brought enough to cater during the entire event period. Wherever books are already sold out, we are airlifting from India.”
The most interesting observation, according to him, is the response of the young readers. “In spite of talks that the reading habits have been declining worldwide, we found that young readers are turning out in huge numbers and showing great interest.”
A group of teachers of Al Amal English High School, Sharjah, told this reporter that they had brought along 174 students with them. “The children are mostly looking for story books, with some searching for the English translation of the Holy Quran. Overall, the prices are reasonable. If there is one request from us, it is that the visit timings from schools should be scattered as crowds become unwieldy.”
Teacher Asma Siddique suggested that prices should be a little more affordable as children buy mostly from their pocket money. 
Akhil Ibrahim, a Sharjah Indian School student, said he was thrilled to be at the venue. He noted he was looking for encyclopaedias and books on space. 
Another stall that attracted a large number of kids had a special book on “Greatest” boxer Muhammad Ali. 
“It is a heavy volume limited edition, signed by the great boxer himself. It is an amazing book which is so heavy that children may not be even able to lift,” joked a volunteer at the stall, who did not want to reveal his name. The book is being sold at Dhs28,700. Children could be seen perusing photos at a stall displaying Russian books. 
“We have books about the UAE and Middle East in the Russian language. Lots of people say they like the books. Even if they do not understand the language, they want to see pictures. Kids especially are happy to see the pictures in the books,” said Vierra Barnett, who was at the stall. 
She added, “Many Russians who visited our stall wanted to buy some books, but unfortunately, we only display here, not sell.”
There is the British connection too. A volunteer who referred her name only as Kathy, explained: “We are a Britain-based publication group focusing on English language teaching books. We have a variety of novels for kids from 3 years to teens. We also have a new series focused on adults, combining language and career.”


  1. visiting a book fair is such a nice experience! Nice post with relevant facts and figures :)