Sunday, December 30, 2012

Actor Manoj Bajpayee launches Shobhaa De’s Sethji

Pakistan News & Features Services

The celebrated Indian columnist and novelist Shobhaa De, known for her outspoken views, has come up with her 17th book titled ‘Sethji’ having been published by Penguin whose reading session was held recently at the Crossword Bookstores housed in Mumbai’s Mohammedbhai Mansion. 

Noted Bollywood actor, Manoj Bajpayee, did a reading from the book in a very impressive manner which earned him accolades even from the author. 

”What an outstanding professional! Every single person present at Crossword last evening went away singing the praises of Manoj Bajpayee. Here's one actor who could teach a thing or two to several of his contemporaries-acting skills, of course, and more importantly, just basic good manners. His reading from Sethji went off swimmingly well,” the versatile Shobhaa De acknowledged on her blog. 

“Author Namita Devidayal provided able support, as she stayed ‘in character' (Amrita's). Manoj spoke with transparent sincerity and responded to audience questions with candour and good humour. It was a terrific session,” she added. 

By her own admission, she had decided to skip the conventional book launch event, having done it numerous times in the past. Instead she did a digital launch of ‘Sethji’ before organizing the reading session. 

Before the publication of ‘Sethji’ her published titles were Shobhaa at Sixty, Sandhya`s Secret, Superstar India-From Incredible to Unstoppable, Strange Obsession, Snapshots, Spouse: The truth about marriage, Speedpost, Surviving Men, Selective Memory, Second Thoughts, Small Betrayals, Shooting from the hip, Sultry Days, Uncertain Liaisons, Sisters, Starry Nights and Socialite Evenings. 

Shobhaa De, born on January 7, 1948, made a name in modeling before taking up the profession of journalism in 1970. She is credited to have founded and edited three popular magazines, Stardust, Society, and Celebrity. 

She started contributing to The Times of India in the 1980s and mostly wrote on the lifestyles of the Mumbai celebrities. 

She has gone on become one of the most sought-after freelance writers and columnists, working for several newspapers and magazines. 

Shobhaa De has participated in several literary festivals, including the Karachi Literature Festival and the Writers' Festival in Melbourne.

E-book reading rises as print reading dips in USA

Pakistan News & Features Services

The common perception of the decline in reading the print editions of books, magazines and newspapers globally received strength from a recent survey conducted in the United States of America (USA). 

According to new survey findings by the Pew Research Center released on December 27, the percentage of adult Americans who read a book this fall has fallen to 75% from 78% a year ago. 

The survey of Americans age 16 and older discovered that 23% of people in the age bracket read e-books in the previous 12 months, up from 16% a year ago, while the percentage who read print books fell to 67% from 72%. 

The survey, from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, was conducted from October 15 to November 10 among 2,252 Americans 16 and up. 

The increase in e-book reading was fueled by higher ownership of digital reading devices, with the survey finding that 33% of Americans 16 and up had either a dedicated e-reader or a tablet, up from 18% in late 2011. 

The e-book usage among library patrons also rose in the last year, although it still remained at relatively low levels. 

Five percent of recent library users said they had borrowed an e-book in the past year, up from 3%; the percentage of library users who are aware that e-books are available at the library took a more significant upturn, rising to 31% from 24%.

Pearson, Nook Media excited with new partnership

Pakistan News & Features Services

Barnes & Noble (B & N) has announced an $89.5 million investment in its Nook Media subsidiary while also forecasting the holiday sales to fall below expectations. They also anticipated that the results in its Nook business will not meet forecasts for fiscal 2013. 

According to reports, Pearson’s investment will allow the company a 5% stake in Nook Media making them the third investor in the venture as B&N’s stake will slip to 78.2% and Microsoft’s stake will become 16.8%. 

Under the agreement, Pearson also received warrants to acquire another 5% of the company based on a valuation of $1.789 billion and subject to certain conditions. 

In a statement, B&N CEO, William Lynch, and Pearson North America Head, Will Ethridge, both expressed their excited about the partnership. In a regulatory filing, B&N said that with the agreement, Nook Media would begin distributing the content of Pearson, regarded as the world’s largest educational publishing company with substantial assets in both the higher education and el-hi markets. 

“With this investment we have entered into a commercial agreement with Nook Media that will allow our two companies to work closely together in order to create a more seamless and effective experience for students," Ethridge was quoted as saying. 

"It is another example of our strategy of making our content and services broadly available to students and faculty through a wide range of distribution partners," he added. 

B&N haven’t said much about the weaker than expected holiday sales. Thanksgiving weekend sales got off to a good start with unit sales of Nook devices double that of the previous year. Yet B&N was expecting a slight dip in sales in its trade stores.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

23rd Doha International Book Fair 2012 attracts bigger turnout

Pakistan News & Features Services

The 23rd Doha International Book Fair 2012 concluded on December 22, after having opened on December 12. As many as 425 publishing houses from 26 countries participated in the annual event. 

“The Doha International Book Fair has become an annual and important event in the Arab region,” Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, Chairman of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, remarked during a chat with the reporters on the sidelines of the closing ceremony. 

He also highlighted the significant role played by the Fair in educating the public and book lovers in the State of Qatar and beyond. 

"The exhibition offered a great opportunity for citizens and residents to take advantage of the latest intellectual productions on display,” he said while expressing his admiration with the large participation of Arab and foreign publishing houses. He touched upon the critical issue of the printed book facing significant challenges from the electronic book. 

“The increased purchasing power noticed at Doha Fairs each year indicated the tendency to read and learn and proved that the electronic book would not replace the printed book,” Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah believed. 

He pointed out that the book fair has witnessed a major turnout and participation of publishers from across the world and added that the event was growing each year. 

“I have learned that many of the international publishing houses were willing to participate this year but limited space prevented their participation,” he shared. 

The Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing (BQFP) was recognized for instilling love and motivation for reading and writing at the event. The BQFP set up interactive morning events that were divided into two tracks, specifically catering to children and librarians at the Doha Exhibition Centre. 

In order to develop children’s interest in books, issues about local library culture were addressed at the morning workshops. 

The BQFP Educational Programmes Developer, Amira Abed organized the workshops that invited independent school librarians to build their skills. 

“A major part of our Reading and Writing Development Programme is mentoring librarians in the areas of library development, communication with children and recommending books to them,” he said. 

“We explore the use of storybooks in classrooms to develop children’s awareness and reading skills, and to acquire literary richness to improve their writing,” Abed added. 

The sessions were a sample of other informative workshops BQFP offer throughout the year with the book fair providing a special opportunity. 

Subsequently the BQFP and Maktaba Qatar collaborated on crafting special sessions for school children who were able to enjoy storybooks and get creative with writing activities. During the weekends, dual-language activity sessions led by Maktaba Qatar were also open to the public.

Glamorous Kareena Kapoor launches Richa Lakhera's book Garbage Beat

Pakistan News & Features Services

The presence of the glamorous Bollywood actress, Kareena Kapoor, mesmerized the audience in the launching ceremony of Richa Lakhera's book Garbage Beat in Bandra, Mumbai, on December 23. 

Kareena Kapoor, attired in a Shehla Khan Anarkali outfit, remained the focus of attention and her every move was captured by the media battery and her photographs and videos of the occasion started getting uploaded right away. 

The 32-year-old actress was noted for looking stately in the long sleeved pink dress, befitting her newly acquired status as Begum of Saif Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi. 

Her ankle length embellished Georgette anarkali top featured a V neckline and she paired it with a matching silk churidaar and a flowing embroidered dupatta accented with gotta trim. 

She accessorized with golden Jimmy Choo heels and Aquamarine chandelier earrings and side swept hair with a single streak of red highlight was left down. 

Kareena Kapoor, who plays a journalist in Prakash Jha’s Satyagrah, was enthusiastic in taking questions from the reporters and replying them to their heart’s content. 

She explained that she really feels sad that today a star and a journalist aren’t linked the way they used to be before. 

“That’s because there are so many channels, magazines and tabloids covering celluloid. Today, anyone can be on the cover of any magazine,” she felt. 

Kareena Kapoor clarified having bonded with many journalists previously who were now writing reviews of her movies. 

“They would get into a conversation with a motive to get an interview but they would end up talking about everything. That would help them understand the real person I am and accordingly they would write the column,” she reckoned. 

Kareena Kapoor conceded that for her role in the film, she would derive inspirations from every reporter as she understood the nature of the job and how challenging it’ to get the desired answers. 

So awesome was her presence that the actual event, the launch of Richa Lakhera's book Garbage Beat got overshadowed with the media corps more interested in Kareena Kapoor than the party itself. 

Richa Lakhera's function as well as the book, however, received huge mention in the press with the photographs of Kareena Kapoor doing the talking.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Texan author Larry King is no more

Pakistan News & Features Services

Lawrence Leo King, more famous as Larry King, was a famed journalist, author, essayist and playwright. He expired at the age of 83 on December 21. According to reports he died after battling emphysema at Chevy Chase House, a retirement home in Washington where he had been living the past six months. 

He was born on January 1, 1929, in the town of Putnam in West Texas. He grew up mostly on a rural farm until his family moved to Midland, where he went to high school. 

His father, Clyde Clayton King, was a farmer and a blacksmith and the subject of ‘The Old Man’ known to be one of his son’s best-known essays.

Larry King had left the high school prior to graduation to join the Army just after World War II and served most of his stint in the New York area making training films. Upon return he got his first writing job at The Hobbs Daily Flare, a New Mexico newspaper, and later briefly attended Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University, in Lubbock. 

In the mid-1950s he had moved to Washington as an aide to a Texas congressman, J T Rutherford. Later he joined the staff of another Texas representative, Jim Wright, the future speaker of the House. He left in 1964 to become a full-time writer. 

He was granted a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard for the 1969-70 academic year. He wrote about it for Harper’s in an essay called ‘Blowing My Mind at Harvard.’ 

‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ was made into a 1982 film starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, and a sequel to the stage musical, ‘The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public’ appeared briefly on Broadway in 1994. 

His books included ‘None But a Blockhead’ about the act of writing, and a children's book called ‘Because of Lozo Brown’ about the fears children have of meeting others. Collections of his essays were also published, including ‘The Old Man and Lesser Mortals’ which began as an article about his father. He won an Emmy for his 1982 television documentary for CBS ‘The Best Little Statehouse in Texas’ while He taught at Princeton and was a fellow at Duke.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Spotlight on Japan in 23rd Doha International Book Fair 2012

Pakistan News & Features Services

The 23rd Doha International Book Fair 2012 opened at the Doha Exhibition Centre in Doha, Qatar, on December 12, featuring publishers from 27 countries including the US, Japan, France, Germany and Sweden. The event will continue until December 22. 

‘Global Thought Forum’ is the theme of the 11-day book fair being organised by the Qatari Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage with collaboration of the Department of Public Libraries. 

Japan is the ‘chief guest’ in the exhibition this year, which is participating with a special pavilion, with the support of the Japanese Embassy in Doha. 

The publishers from almost every Arab country are participating in the fair and the huge majority of the titles are in Arabic. The Qatar Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari opened the exhibition in the presence of senior officials from the Ministry and other departments and organisations. 

“The Doha international Book Fair is an extension of Sharjah international Book Fair (SIBF) and other book events in the GCC countries. Book fairs across the Arab world encourage reading habits, and help shape people's conscience, whereby offering an excellent opportunity to everyone to get first-hand acquaintance with the latest titles on the most pressing issues of the world,” the Minister noted. 

Several leading Qatari organisations and institutions have also set up stalls, including the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Qatar University, RAF, Supreme Council of Family Affairs, Family Consulting Center, National Human Rights Committee, besides several media outlets in Doha. 

A series of lectures on social, political and cultural issues as well as scientific and educational topics are being held on the sidelines of the exhibition. 

A delegation from the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), headed by Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Amri, Director of SIBF, along with Omran Al Qatari, Head of Procurement Section at the Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, also participated in the 23rd edition of the Doha International Book Fair. 

The SIBF participation at Doha came in line with the directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, himself an avid reader, having made extraordinary efforts to inculcate the love of books among his people.

Amitabh Bachchan launches Ustad Amjad Ali Khan's book

Pakistan News & Features Services

The Bollywood legend, Amitabh Bachchan, launched music maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan's book ‘My Father, Our Fraternity: The Story of Hafiz Ali Khan and My World’ in Mumbai on December 14. 

The book launch ceremony, which caught the attention of the media, was also attended by Amitabh Bachchan’s son Abhishek Bachchan and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, both of them the shining stars of the biggest movie industry in their own right. 

Quite a few other celebrities from the world of music and entertainment were in attendance in the programme which began with a minute's silence to mourn the demise of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. 

The book, published by Roli Books, is based on the sarod maestro's memories of his father Hafiz Khan, who passed away in 1972, and includes anecdotes and narrations from a diary which he used to write. 

It dwells on the life and times of his father, giving a glimpse of the 'guru-shishya parampara' (teacher-disciple tradition) in Indian classical music and also features some rare photographs dating back to 1930s. 

While lauding the maestro and his sons Amaan and Ayaaan for keeping the musical legacy going, he underlined how his family and the maestro’s shared a warm and close rapport. 

“What parents do for their children is beyond measure. So whatever a child does for his father can never be enough," Amitabh Bachchan said. 

Speaking of his father, Amjad Ali Khan said, "Music was his life. There are books available on other musicians, but nothing on my father, so I decided to write this book." 

"I am lucky I was born as his son. He was a great musician and also a very kind, compassionate man," the veteran musician said. 

Born on October 9, 1945, Amjad Ali Khan is an acclaimed classical musician who plays the saror. He was born into a musical family and has performed internationally since the 1960s. 

He was awarded India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan in 2011. His family, which claims to have invented the sarod, is a part of the Bangash lineage and Amjad Ali Khan is in the sixth generation of musicians.

Iqbal Saleh Mohammad delighted with record sales in 8th Karachi International Book Fair 2012

Pakistan News & Features Services

Iqbal Saleh Mohammad, the doyen of the bookselling professionals in the country, has expressed his delight with the record sales witnessed in the eighth edition of the Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF), held at the Karachi Expo Centre from December 6 to 10, 2012. 

The owner of Paramount Books and Paramount Publishing Enterprise reckoned that the volume of sales in the KIBF 2012 was about 40 percent higher than any of the previous editions of the KIBF which was launched in 2012. 

Himself one of the founders of the KIBF, Iqbal Saleh, was particularly happy with the substantial increase in the demand for the children books. 

“It’s very gladdening indeed to note that greater number of books is being sold at the KIBF. These are healthy signs which augur well for the future,” the KIBF official remarked. 

He has remained vocal for the cause of the local publishing and bookselling industry, firmly believing that stronger measures should be taken to make it bigger. 

Iqbal Saleh, who has been driving force in motivating the local authors, hoped that the KIBF would be taking even greater care of them in future.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fiction legend Ishtiaq Ahmed cherishes KIBF experience

Pakistan News & Features Services

Ishtiaq Ahmed, a legendary suspense and fiction writer, expressed his delight at watching the huge turnout in the eighth edition of the Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF), held at the Karachi Expo Centre from December 6 to 10, 2012. 

“The book fairs play a crucial role in developing the habit of reading in our society. It’s a pleasant experience for me to watch a large number of people, belonging to all groups of ages, visiting the fair,” the noted writer who became a household name with the success of the Inspector Jamshed Series remarked during his visit to the KIBF 2012. 

“In my opinion easy access to internet and the latest forms of personal computers and electronic gadgets have supported the trend of book reading through wild spreading information about books and literature,” Ishtiaq Ahmed reckoned. 

“In the past the publication of a new book and information about literature used to remain confined to a particular circle but it’s a different scenario now with the advent of the internet and it has become easier for people to tell each other and discuss about books, literature and new developments,” he thought. 

“Such book fairs, however, are vitally important in further motivating the young generation to read more and more books. The presence of thousands of people here reflects their passion for reading,” he added. 

The Lahore-based Ishtiaq Ahmad has done wonders with his detective publications in Urdu language, having written 700 novels, reported to be the highest by any author in any language throughout the world. 

He has been extremely popular, particularly among the youth, since the 1970s. His Inspector Jamshed series, Inspector Kamran Mirza series and Shoki series were blockbusters. 

He has produced suspense thriller novels thick and fast. His books have appealed to the kids as well as the adults. He had become the most sought after author in the 1990s and nearly every book of his became a success story.

8th Karachi International Book Fair sustains traditional intensity despite heavy odds

Pakistan News & Features Services

The eighth edition of the Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF), held at the Karachi Expo Centre in the centrally located Gulshan-e-Iqbal, from December 6 to 10, 2012, succeeded in sustaining the traditional intensity despite the heaviest of odds. 

By turning up in large number on all five days, and evenings, the Karachiites proved once more how much they love to read books even in the age of information technology and internet. 

By purchasing a lot of books on the various subjects that were on offer on discounted prices, they dispelled the impression that the reading habits were on the decline in this part of the world. 

With the publishers of all kinds from different countries of the world in attendance, the bookworms of Karachi availed the opportunity by visiting the fair with their families whose enthusiasm gladdened the stall-holders, who generally kept the margin of profit minimal by offering generous discounts. 

Another heartening feature of the event was the growing ratio of the young visitors who spent a lot of time at the various stalls to have a good look at the huge number of titles on display before making their choice. 

The availability of so many interesting titles on nearly every topic under the sun and that too at heavy discounts brought more and more people to the fair. 

There were a large number students as well as professionals, besides the families, who turned up during the five days of intense activity at three halls of the Karachi Expo Centre. 

According to the organizers, about one million books were on display at 321 stalls, set up by mostly by the publishers in the KIBF 2012. 

They estimated 60,000 to 80,000 visitors on each of the four working days with more than 1.5 million people believed to have turned up on Sunday.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

8th Karachi International Book Fair 2012 gets underway

Pakistan News and Features Services

The 8th Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF) 2012 has got underway at the Karachi Expo Centre on December 6. The event will continue for five days until its closure late in the evening on December 10. The entry for the visitors would remain free of cost and the timings would be 10 am to 9 pm. 

The Sindh Education Minister, Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, was the chief guest in the inauguration ceremony with Dr Farooq Sattar, Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and a former Mayor of Karachi, was the guest of honour. 

More than three hundred stalls have been set up in the three vast halls of the huge complex which is wearing festive look and there has been brisk activity since morning despite the gas problems having choked the city traffic. 

As in the past, the KIBF 2012 is being organized by the Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association (PPBA) with the collaboration of the National Book Foundation (NBF). The provincial Education Ministry has also extended its support to make the event a great success and dedicate to promote literacy in the country. 

Around 200 publishers and distributors, including foreign companies, have displayed their collection to attract the students, teachers, librarians, academicians, writers and institutional customers besides the general public. 

The organizers expect a record number of 300,000 people during the five-day event which, they reckon, presents considerable charm to the bookworms with the substantial discounts on offer at nearly every stall. 

Arrangements have also been made to facilitate book launching and book release ceremonies during the KIBF besides holding various contests like drawing, recitation, extempore speech, and quiz for kids in order to keep the audience entertained.