With the introduction of digital technology, many believed that books would soon become obsolete. Not only was that proven incorrect, but book sales have grown. According to WordsRated, an international research data and analytics firm, global book publishing revenue was $129 billion in 2023, up from $122 billion in 2018. India has several independent bookstores, which are popular among knowledgeable tourists. For example, Rachna Books in Gangtok which has received Publishing Next's Bookstore of the Year award in the South East Asia category.
Then there is Bengaluru's famous Blossom Book House, home to secondhand books. Earthcare Books, located on Kolkata's Middleton Street, is known for its carefully curated stock of books on the environment with selected titles from a number of small, independent publishers, especially in the alternative sector. These are rarely found elsewhere under one roof. And many more.
The White Owl in Chumukedima, Nagaland, is another must-see for bibliophiles. This tiny bookstore tucked in the hills in the Northeast seeks to spearhead a movement that will change the way people interact with literature, making reading a key and active part of their lives. They conduct a variety of activities and programmes to foster a love of reading and contribute to a societal transformation in which books are seen as portals to other worlds and ideas.
The bookstore is hosting a lit fest and book fair that is a perfect excuse to head out to Nagaland. The first edition of the White Owl Literature Festival & Book Fair, a two-day celebration of literature, culture, and community, will be held from February 9-10, 2024, at the Zone Niathu near The Park in Chümoukedima, Nagaland. It is being organised in collaboration with Penguin Random House India and Cambridge University Press. According to The White Owl, the goal of this collaborative effort is to overcome literary gaps, cross boundaries, and reignite a love of reading and creating stories.
The subject, "Echoes of Narratives," celebrates Nagaland's rich storytelling heritage, which has been passed down for centuries. The festival has a diverse programme that includes presentations by prominent authors, cultural performances, delectable food choices, and Nagaland's first book fair, which will run for three days following the festival.
The festival will have an engaging programme covering a wide range of issues, including Northeast India's legacy, the world of graphic novels, commercial fiction, and talks on the economy, environment, and wellness. Several illustrious authors including Vivek Shanbagh, Taslima Nasrin, Sarnath Banerjee, Durjoy Dutta, Viju B., Vasudha Rai, Nikhil Gulati, and Lavanya Karthik, will attend the event. Mmhonlumo Kikon, Avinuo Kire, Shelmi Sankhil, and other renowned authors will represent the local voice at the festival.
The White Owl Literature Festival will also feature Nagaland's first book fair, with publishers and distributors from throughout the country selling their collections of books. The event will also include workshops and designated play spaces, resulting in a dynamic and informative environment for youngsters. In addition to the literary offerings, visitors will also experience cultural events and enjoy delicious culinary delights.
"This is the first time that Penguin is organizing a literature festival in the Northeast," said Gaurav Shrinagesh, CEO, India, SEA, and MENA, Penguin Random House. "Our publishing house has been actively curating a powerful portfolio of writing from the region and We take immense pride in our list of books and voices that we publish. This festival is a perfect way to pay homage to one of the richest literary hubs in our country. With The White Owl as our local partner, we are confident that this festival will attract an array of readers to provide them an opportunity to engage with authors."
What: The White Owl Literature Festival and Book Fair
When: February 9-10, 2024
Where: Zone Niathu by The Park, Chumukedima, Nagaland
Entry fee is INR 50. Free entry for school and college students with official student identification.
Chumukedima is a village located on the foothills of Naga Hills in Dimapur, Nagaland. You can fly to the Dimapur Airport located 7 kilometres from the city centre. It is well-connected by road and can be reached from Dimapur via taxis, buses, or private vehicles.