(Posted by Chetna Malhotra)
All excited about taking Bookworm on its first book fair to a school in Mormugao had us on the road at 7 in the morning.
We were there by 7:45 A.M. and had set up by 8:15 or so. Children, some with parents and some with teachers started trickling in. Some just glanced as they passed, some stopped to look and some; well, walked on. We kept telling people that the books were up for sale and they could come by after the programme.
A very slow morning; just 3 books went off the table. We still waited, hoping that the end of the programme would mean that people would come to take a look at the range of books we had on display.
It was only after 11 or so that we did the remainder of the sales. We closed shop around 12:30 P.M.
I have to admit that I did expect books to fly off the table. I was also sure that we would create awareness about Bookworm and the programmes we offer. But sadly none of this really happened.
I was of the opinion that books don’t sell mainly because of lack of awareness of different kinds of books and their prices. But I was shocked when faced with the reality. Most of the parents and children were looking for ‘colouring books’!! When we told them we had only story books, they were not interested. It took a lot of coaxing to sell the very few that we did.
My point is that I am not disappointed by the sales but very saddened to see children growing up in an atmosphere that is devoid of story books. Yet, they were at the same place for a story telling competition! We came across 2 older kids whose reading levels were way behind their age level.
But yes, a few parents who did buy books did not check the price and buy it. They were convinced that either they or their child wanted the book. So clearly it is not about the price.
I’m left with the thought that as much as we want to do, book fairs alone will not help us to get to our aim of spreading the love of books and reading. It’s going to take more, much more. Work with educators and parents also seems crucial.