If it’s January 5 (insert any day of the year) there must be a book event happening somewhere on the Indian sub-continent.
Today in fact is the National Poetry Festival day at the New Town Book Fair in Kolkata. The New Town Book Fair runs January 4-14.
But the New Town event, now in its second day, was not the first of the year. That honour went to the Vijayawada Book Festival which started on New Year’s Day.
Last year the Vijayawada Book Festival sold books to the value of half a million dollars during the eleven day event, and despite the rise of online shopping in India it is expected the book fairs and festivals across India will continue to see rising book sales, the total value of which is anyone’s guess right now, as no-one is tracking this gray market of global book sales that take place beyond the gaze of Nielsen Bookscan and the traditional industry stats counters.
Tomorrow the gigantic New Delhi World Book Fair kicks off, running January 6 through 14, with well over two million visitors expected.
But of course not everyone can get to Delhi, so there’s also the Kolkata Apeejay Literary Festival Jan 11 through 14 and the Hyderabad Literary Festival this month from Jan 12 through 14. Oh, and the Maida Book Fair starting on January 17.
And on January 22 the Jaipur Book Festival will take you through to January 29, or if you prefer something a tad shorter the Kolkata Literary Festival starts on January 22 but ends on January 27.
That gives Kolkata residents a few days breathing space before what is expected to be the world’s biggest book fair kicks off on January 30 through February 11.
The Kolkata International Book Fair last year attracted 2.4 million visitors, but with the UAE’s Sharjah Book International Fair clocking 2.38 million visitors in 2017 it’s anyone’s guess whether Kolkata, Sharjah or some other book fair will take the 2018 crown.
In February the Kerala Literary Festival will be happening in India 8 though 11.
But it’s not just India having bookish fun on the sub-continent.
Down south in Sri Lanka the world-renowned Galle Literary Festival will be happening January 24-28.
To the west in Pakistan the Lahore International Book Fair will be happening February 1 through 5, and then of course it’s the Karachi Literary Festival February 9 through 11.
And just in case you were thinking I’d forgotten Bangladesh in the east, the Ekushey Book Fair will be happening in Dhaka.
Which day? Make that which month. The Bangladesh Ekushey Book Fair happens every February and lasts the entire month.
And of course it’s not just on the Indian sub-continent that major book events and book sales will be happening beyond Nielsen Bookscan’s all-seeing eye.
Aside from the Angoulême Comics Fair in France in January we have, in February, the Havana International Book Fair in Cuba and the Taipei International Book Fair in Taiwan.
Oh, and the Brussels Fair in Belgium, the Vilnius Fair in Lithuania and the Riga Fair in Latvia.
And don’t get me started on March, where we’ll be seeing more book fairs breaking the two million visitors mark, and millions of dollars more books exchanging hands outside the bookstore, online store end ebook store channels we in the west assume are the only places where books are sold
The global book market is bigger and more exciting than most people realise.