Kala Korner - by Dee Cee

Books, books and more books!
The recent Book Fair proved what a powerful product books are. As Professor J. B. Disanayaka pointed out delivering the keynote address at the opening, "we have come a long, long way since the days of the 'gal pota' (as seen in Polonnaruwa) and the 'puskola pota'. Today, books are commercial products. They have to be advertised and marketed as any other product."

Out of the five held so far, this year's Fair was easily the best. The response both from the publishers and the readers was immense. It was also a great marketing effort by the publishers. Their target consumers - young and old alike - came in the thousands during the week-long book carnival. Most of the stalls were attractive. Display was eye-catching. The choice was fabulous. Staff were courteous and the consumer had a field day.

On the first day, it was announced that at least 400 new titles would be launched during the Fair. A few had formal launches but most of the new books just made their appearance at the stalls. The readers were quick to notice them. The Fair is a rare opportunity for the publisher to meet the reader.

Otherwise the publisher delivers the books to a store and the readers buy them from the bookshop. "At the Fair they talk to us direct. They air their views. We get valuable information which can guide us when we plan future publications," energetic publisher Gevindu Cumaratunga said, commenting on the direct feedback.

The Fair showed a marked improvement in the quality of books produced locally - whether it be the covers, the typeface, paper used and the printing. Ours is world class now. May not be all - but certainly the majority. Those who got away with drab covers and low quality production will have to look sharp. The Fair has become a cultural event looked forward to by everyone interested in books. A healthy trend indeed.

We were sad not to see Sybil Wettasinghe at the opening ceremony when the SAARC award won by her 'Duwana Revula' (The Runaway Beard) was formally handed over. SAARC Book Development Council awarded the first prize for the book at the second SAARC Book Fair held in Delhi recently. Sarvodaya Vishvalekha had reprinted the book and had exhibited it at the SAARC Book Fair.

Silver jubilee
Pandit Amaradeva and Professor Sunil Ariyaratne have just finished a song to commemorate the silver jubilee of the Ruhuna University. For the first time, a higher educational institution has thought it fit to mark a milestone in its existence with a special song. On the invitation of University authorities, Sunil had done the lyrics which were set to music by maestro Amaradeva, who had also trained a chorus to render it at the silver jubilee celebrations.

Incidentally, Amaradeva most reverently and inspiringly rendered the 'Anichchanupassanava' - Buddhist stanzas explaining the impermanence of life as the funeral pyre of the remains of the Most Venerable Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayaka Thero was being lit.

Felicitating garment girls
The Joint Apparel Association Forum paid tribute to the girls working in the garment industry with a special song composed by well-known lyric writer Dr Ajantha Ranasinghe.

Victor Ratnayake created the melody and renders it in his usual inimitable style.
It's recognition for the hard work put in by the girls who help to earn valuable foreign exchange for the country.

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