Sun, 25 May 2003

Book Fair offers chance to meet authors

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The rare sight of seeing people lining up to meet book authors will likely occur during the Jakarta Book Fair 2003 at the Bung Karno Indoor Stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta, from Saturday May 24 to June 1.

Bestselling authors -- starting from Supernova author Dewi "Dee" Lestari; Remy Sylado whose novel Ca Bau Kan was made into a movie and joined the selection for last year's Academy Awards and Kerudung Merah Kirmizi that was awarded the QB Worldbook 2001- 2002 Khatulistiwa Literary Award for Best Indonesian Fiction; and even Ken Conboy who last year wrote Kopassus -- Inside Indonesia's Special Forces -- will meet book enthusiasts starting this Sunday.

The book fair committee is also staging a writing competition for students from elementary to high school on the theme: Books which really impressed me.

The committee will also hold discussions on books like Early Protection Against SARS by Prof. Hembing; and Jakarta Under Cover, Sex and The City, by Muamar EmKa.

More than 80 publishers are participating in the book fair, besides several independent communities of book lovers, like Pen Circle Forum (FLP), 1001 Book Community, Children's Reading Stall (Wacana).

Just like previous years, many publishers are offering discounts of up to 80 percent.

"Besides looking for discounted books, many visitors also come to hunt for old and rare books that are no longer displayed in the bookstores but are on display at the book fair at discounted prices. It's the perfect time for book lovers," said book fair committee chairman Mula Harahap.

"We estimate between 90,000 and 100,000 visitors will come, just like previous book fairs in the past few years," said Mula, who is also secretary of the Jakarta Chapter of the Indonesian Publishers Association (Ikapi).

Despite securing revenue for publishers, the book fair aims to build a good relationship between readers, publishers and authors.

Aris Bustaman of the country's largest publisher PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama regretted that such a book fair, which has been an annual event in the city, has never been well-organized or well- planned.

"The main problem is we always fail to fix a date for the book fair. The date is often changed since there are changes in sports competitions which take place at the indoor stadium by the Bung Karno Sports Complex executive directors," Aris told The Jakarta Post.

"That's one of many reasons why we always fail to invite international publishers to participate in the book fair, besides security concerns," he added.