Chennai Book Fair

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Chennai Book Fair
Book fair-Tamil Nadu-35th-Chennai-january-2012-PATH 1- part 6.JPG
The Book Fair Entrance
Inaugurated14 December 1977
Attendance600,000 in 2007
ActivityMarketplace, Awards

Chennai Book Fair or Madras Book Fair is an annual book fair organized in the Chennai, India by the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI). The fair typically lasts for about two weeks during the New Year-Pongal season. The fair is usually held between the last week of December and the third week of January.[1] In 2016, following the 2015 South Indian floods, for the first time, the book fair was rescheduled to be held in May. Instead, an alternate low-key Pongal Book Fair was held between 13 and 24 January for book lovers and tourists.

The Chennai Book Fair is the second largest book fair in the country.[2] All major Tamil and English publishing houses participate in this fair. The 2018 fair had over 708 stalls representing most major publishing companies in India and was held for 13 days, drawing over 1.1 million visitors.[3]

The Chennai Book Fair is considered to an important event in the Chennai cultural calendar along with the Chennai music season.


The First Madras Book Fair was organized in Madras between 14 and 24 December 1977, by The Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), an association of major publishing companies of Tamil Nadu.[4][5][6] The first Madras Book Fair had 22 stalls and was held at the Madrasa-i-Azam school due to the initiative of K. V. Mathew of B. I. Publications.[6] He is also credited with planning and organisation of the next five editions of the fair.[6] Mr. Mathew has also organized an annual book fair for students.[6] The Student Book Fair, however, hasn't been as successful as the Chennai Book Fair.[6]

The book fairs gradually rose in popularity. At the 12th Madras Book Fair held between 22 December 1989, and 1 January 1990, Tamil translations of WHO publications were put on sale.[7] The success of the Chennai Book Fair prompted BAPASI to start similar book fairs at Udagamandalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Pondicherry and Tiruchirapalli.

The 24th Chennai Book Fair experienced a spurt in the number of Tamil language publishers. Of the 180 publication houses who participated in the book fair, 80 were Tamil publication houses, a remarkable increase since the 23rd fair in which there was only one stall devoted to Tamil publications.[8] The book fair celebrated its silver jubilee in 2002 coinciding with the 50th anniversary celebrations of BAPASI. The fair was held for 15 days instead of the usual 11-day affair.[9] In 2007, due to traffic congestion and the need for more space for the stalls,[10] the venue for the annual book fair was changed from Quaid-e-Milleth Women's College to St. George' School in Kilpauk.[11] In the 32nd edition held in 2009, the number of visitors crossed the one-million mark. In 2013, due to construction work on the Chennai Metro, the venue of the book fair was shifted to the Y. M. C. A. grounds in Nandanam.

The early editions were held in the last weeks of December and ended in the first week of January in order to coincide with the Christmas-New Year holidays. However, in the late nineties, the fair was moved to mid-January to coincide with the Pongal festive season.

Recent editions[edit]

35th Chennai Book Fair, 2012

The 32nd Chennai Book Fair was inaugurated at St George's Anglo-Indian School, Poonamallee High Road, Chennai, by former President of India Abdul Kalam on 8 January 2009.[5][12] and lasted ten days.[13] The 2009 edition had over 600 stalls[14] and was attended by over one million people,[13] amongst whom were Chennai historian S. Muthiah, businessman Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti and Gnani.[14] Second-hand pavement shops outside the fair also did a good business.[15] Book publishers made a cumulative sale of approximately 70 million.[13]

The 14-day fair was held at St. George's Anglo Indian School on Poonamallee High Road. The fair included 646 stalls, spread over 1.5 lakh sq.ft. Over 1 million titles were on sale. Book publishers from New Delhi, Agra, Hyderabad, Bangalore and various parts of Tamil Nadu participated in the fair.

The 36th Chennai Book Fair was held between 11 and 23 January 2013, at YMCA Physical Education College Ground, Nandanam due to the construction of CMRL (Chennai Metro Rail) at E.V.R Periyar Salai. It had 747 stalls in a 180,000-square-foot area, with 450 participants and 1 million titles.[16][17]

The 39th edition of Chennai Book Fair was not conducted in January 2016 due to the flood happened in Dec 2015. The planned venue (Y.M.C.A, Nandanam) was still inundated during the last weeks of December and the organisers did not have enough time to replan the venue to keep up with the schedule. Many book sellers and distributors got affected as their valuable stocks were damaged in the floods.[18] The local publishers suffered a loss of approximately Rs. 25 crore. The Book Fair was postponed initially to April 2016 and then rescheduled to 1–13 June 2016.[19] A book fair was however held between 13–24 January 2016 at Y.M.C.A Royapettah organised by Tamil Nadu Book Sales and Promotions Association with 225 stalls.[20]


The first four editions of the book fair were held in the Madrasa-i-Azam school. In 1981, the book fair moved to the YMCA grounds in Royapettah, Chennai. The 1982 edition was organized at the Woodlands Drive-In restaurant. The book fair was subsequently moved to the Quaid-e-Milleth Government Arts College for Women in the late 1980s. The Quaid-e-Milleth Government Arts College for Women remained the venue of the book fair till 2007, when the venue was shifted to St. George Anglo-Indian High Secondary School on the Poonamallee High Road due to space and parking constraints.


The Chennai Book Fair is considered to be one of the biggest events in the Chennai cultural calendar along with the Chennai music season.[21] In addition to book stalls, there are food and refreshment stalls to serve the needs of hungry visitors. Regular debates, contests and speeches are held at the venue. In recent times, movie clippings of films of international renown are filmed at the venue of the fair. Annual awards to the best writer and the best publisher are given at the fair.[22]

Year Edition Venue Area Number of stalls Participants Visitors Days held Revenue
1976 1 Madrasa-I-Azam school 22
2001 24 Quaid-e-Milleth Women's College 180 11 days
2002 25 Quaid-e-Milleth Women's College 15 days
2003 26 Quaid-e-Milleth Women's College 272 300,000 9–19 January (11 days) 60 million
2004 27 Quaid-e-Milleth Women's College 310 200 540,000 9–19 January (11 days)
2005 28 Quaid-e-Milleth Women's College 700,000 7–17 January (11 days)

60 million

2006 29 Quaid-e-Milleth Women's College 375 6–16 January (11 days)
2007 30 St. George's School, Kilpauk 474 600,000
2008 31 St. George's School, Kilpauk 700,000
2009 32 St. George's School, Kilpauk Over 600 Over 1,000,000 8–17 January (10 days) 70 million
2011 34 St. George's School, Kilpauk 150,000 sq ft 646
2012 35 St. George's School, Kilpauk 100,000 sq ft 687 5–17 January (13 days)
2013 36 YMCA Physical Education College Ground, Nandanam 180,000 sq ft 746 450 900,000 11–23 January (13 days) 120 million[23]
2014 37 YMCA Physical Education College Ground, Nandanam 200,000 sq ft 777 10–22 January (13 days)[24]
2015 38 YMCA Physical Education College Ground, Nandanam 200,000 sq ft 700 9–21 January (13 days)
2016 39 Island Grounds, The Island, Chennai 700 1–13 June (13 days)
2017 40 St. George's School, Chennai, Kilpauk 700 6–19 January (13 days)
2018 41 St. George's School, Chennai, Kilpauk 708 428 10–22 January (13 days) [25]
2019 42 YMCA Physical Education College Ground, Nandanam 804 400 4-20 January (17 days) [3]


  1. ^ Kamath, Rina (2000). Chennai. Orient Blackswan. p. 105. ISBN 8125013784, ISBN 978-81-250-1378-5.
  2. ^ "Chennai Book Fair from 9 Jan 2015". News Today. Archived from the original on 29 December 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Chennai Book Fair from January 4". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 30 December 2018.
  4. ^ "25th Chennai Book Fair 2002". World Health Organization. Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Films, fun and contests for kids at annual book fair". Times of India. 7 January 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e Muthiah, S. (8 November 2004). "60 years midst books". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  7. ^ "Health Literature and Literary Services" (PDF). WHO repository. World Health Organization. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 June 2011.
  8. ^ "80 Tamil publishers participate in Chennai Book Fair". The Hindu. 7 January 2001.
  9. ^ Kannan, Ramya (5 January 2002). "Time to mark your books". The Hindu.
  10. ^ "Chennai Book Fair has new venue". The Hindu. 4 January 2007.
  11. ^ Malarvizhi, J. (12 December 2006). "Venue of annual book fair changed". The Hindu.
  12. ^ "Kalam to inaugurate Chennai Book Fair on Thursday". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 6 January 2009.
  13. ^ a b c Sujatha, R.; K. Laskhmi (19 January 2009). "Fair crowds, well! books still need more readers city pulse". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  14. ^ a b "600 stalls present a sea of books to pick and cherish". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 9 January 2009.
  15. ^ "Nothing stalls pavement sales". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 20 January 2009.
  16. ^ BAPASI release Archived 31 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Book fair expected to draw 10 lakh visitors". The Hindu. Chennai: The Hindu. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Hamid, Zubeda (8 January 2016). "Pongal Book Fair will have over 200 stalls". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  21. ^ Krishnamachari, Suganthy (17 January 2002). "Volumes of wisdom and fun too". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  22. ^ "Book extravaganza kicks off". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 8 January 2005.
  23. ^ "Book fair ends after stupendous sales". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 January 2013.
  24. ^ "Chennai book fair from Jan. 10 to have 777 stalls". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 9 January 2014.
  25. ^ "Chennai Book Fair from Jan. 10". Chennai, India. 6 January 2018.