Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Interesting things do happen at book release events.

September 9 was the 95th birthday of the prolific Thamizh writer, Devan, whose immortal creations include ‘Thuppariyum Sambu’. When ‘Kizhakku Padippakham’ decided to republish five books of Devan, writer Charukesi, who heads the Devan Memorial Trust, decided to make it an occasion. With Badri Seshadri of New Horizon Media Private Limited, (of which Kizhakku Pathippakam is a part) extending his full cooperation, Charukesi made it an evening to remember.

Cricket lovers will remember Badri as one of the founders of CricInfo.com

The highlight of the day was a first. The opening speeches were followed by the dramatised reading of a short story by Devan, called ‘Parvathiyin Sangalpam’, by Gurukulam Boys’ Company. No sets, but the cast did have a bit of make up on, and wore costumes to set the play in the 1950s. They each had a copy of the play from which they read out their parts, well, acted their parts would be more appropriate. Obviously the cast had had no time to learn the lines by heart, since the function had been organised in a short four days, and the deficit was camouflaged by this ploy. The reading took about an hour. The actors were all amateurs, busy with other professions - one of the ladies works with BSNL, another person at a bank, and the young girl is a student at REC, they said. More details of function here.

The dramatised reading gave me an idea. What if more Thamizh works were dramatized and recorded on audio cassettes, with the actors reading out the parts - in today’s culture of ‘No time to read’, they might go down well with booklovers. (Just like the audio cassettes of famous novels which are so popular in the West). And many may be tempted to actually read the originals.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Library fund-raisers

Every county library in the US has a volunteer group involved in fund-raising through donated book sales. At each library the group runs a used books counter from where you can pick up a book for 50 cents or a dollar (for hardcover).Once a quarter they hold book-sales on a bigger scale.The Friends of San Ramon Library, a registered volunteer group, held a two-day weekend sales last month.

On the first day the books set up on tables under various categories - fiction, biography, non-fiction, business, self-help books, children's books - were available for a dollar or less. On the second day one could pick up a bagful for $2. Sales organisers supply the bags, each of which can hold 10 to 15 books, depending on the paperback/hardcover mix of your choice.

I packed into my bag, Erickson's Gandhi's Truth, H G Wells' The Time Machine, a biography of Robbin Williams, Art Buckwald's last work, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Bob Woodward's book on Watergate's 'Deep Throat' and some other titles, all for two dollars.

At San Francisco the annual book sale sponsored by Friends of San Francisco Public Library is a major event. The 2007 sales raised over $250,000 for the library programs. According to the organisers, the books were deonated by residents and
businesses; and some 350 volunteers worked at the big annual sale held at Fort Mason Center. The yearly event is in addition to the monthly book sales held on the frontyard of the San Francisco city library.

The 2008 sale, due late September, will be a five-day affair. Organisers say more than 300,000 books would be available for $5 or less each. On Sunday (final day) the price would drop to a dollar or less per book. Besides books, they say, audio books, CDs DVDs, tapes and vintage vinyl records would be up for the grab.