I was the happiest when Bajothang School was chosen the venue of National Book Fair last year. I was full of expectations. It was my first close encounter with the event and I was watching it from all corners from the day the first truck dropped the load of books.
When the event unfolded I was the most disappointed. I even wrote an article expressing my disappointment: "Book Fair Should be More Than Business" after observing that the fair was all about selling millions worth of book to school libraries. If it was only about selling books, why do we need a fair at all, every Dzongkhag has their towns where book stores are suffering from lack of business. Book Fair must be the reason why book stores are closing down, and why new book stores are not coming up. Wangdue has no book store at all. If you suggest someone to open one, they will tell how selling books is so hard but the reality is every year schools are given huge budget to buys books- which sadly goes to some twenty book sellers participating in book fair.
Book Fair should be an event to celebrate the love for book, to celebrate wisdom of book and to promote reading culture among children. It should be organized by people who love books and literature, people who have read widely and could inspire buyers.
Book Fair should be the meeting place for book lovers, where people who have read most come to share about their secrets and their recommendations to students attending the fair. Where students with outstanding reading habits could be awarded prizes. (But currently only librarians and teachers attend the fair)
Book Fair should honour Bhutanese Writers and their works. It should create platform for native writers to read their books to children and promote their own dreams and inspire children into writing. Writers attending the fair will positively boost the sale of their books and boost their passion. Book Fair in Bhutan should be responsible for promoting book in Bhutan at least.
Book Fair can be the best event to launch books by Bhutanese writers, did it happen?
Some near by schools could be asked to prepare some performances based on popular stories, recite poems, narrate stories, or present book reviews by students.
If none of these is going to happen then stop Book Fair all together because it's only killing the business of hundreds of Book Stores that are not taking part in the fair for the sake of some twenty smart businessmen.
Truck loads of books have arrived in my school football ground and stalls are erected for the event, let's see how different this National Book Fair is going to be!