Books for All spreads joy in Sivakasi

By 30 Apr 2019

Books have lost none of its relevance in India despite the hullabaloo about digital and social media platforms.

As an industry we need to celebrate all things incunabula, book-binding, papyrus, this includes turning the corners of papyrus, marginalia, libraries, ancient scrolls and above all, reading a good old fashioned printed book.

The print centre of Sivakasi saw a bit of the books magic in April. The main aim was how to make children fall in love with books, and retain their childlike enthusiasm about books. With the help of the books from Katha, as well as titles from Pratham, two educators-teachers read out the ancient parables and instilled a bit of that intellectual curiosity.

There are many areas in India where literacy levels are less than 65 per cent and reach of books is in the 20s. It is these towns that will ensure that the potential of the printed books remains strong and vibrant. What better way to segment this land of one billion people but by bringing out content to cater to it’s increasingly specialist needs? What better way than to talk to the people in their own language?

Our planet has come a long way since the extant copies of books produced in the earliest stages (before 1501) of printing from movable type. And yet, printed books continue to be the most efficient and enduring methods of delivering texts: computer formats rapidly become redundant, gadgets go kaput, fads come and go. Contemporary ebooks are not a good bet to outlast their printed counterparts. Secondly and much more importantly, there is no evidence that longform texts themselves, as transmitters of knowledge and entertainment, are in any danger of diminishing in value.

If anything, what the Henkel and Impel-Welbound team saw during the Sivakasi Book for All, we need to a lot more and quickly to ensure there are a million playful and learned conversations about books.

For me, as the legendary Umberto Eco says, the book is like the spoon: once invented, it simply cannot be bettered.


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