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Two youngsters, 20 states and a truck full of books

Last updated on: January 22, 2016 18:36 IST

Armed with 4000 books in a truck, two youngsters have set on a unique journey to promote the love of reading across 20 states in India. Their journey will inspire you too!

Shatabdi Mishra (left) and Akshaya Routray (right) along with eminent writer Manoj Das (centre) in Pondicherry.

Two persons have set out on a wonderful journey to spread the love of books across the country.

Bhubaneswar-based 'Bibliophile Travellers' Akshaya Rautaray and Satabdi Mishra (pictured above) of 'Walking BookFairs' are travelling to 20 states, 10,000 km for a period of 90 days as part of their 'Read More India 2015′ book tour to promote reading. The journey started on December 15 from Odisha.

For them, the book tour is a celebration of books, reading, writers, bookshops, booksellers, libraries and publishers.

At their truck that is custom made to hold 4,000 books, anyone can look at books by various authors and read diverse kind of writings by both Indian and Foreign writers free of cost.

The Walking BookFairs truck at Tea Gardens in Nilambur, Mysore.

"It is ironical that there are so many literary festivals happening all over the country but less and less people are reading books. There are very few bookshops in India and no bookshops in smaller towns or villages.

"Most bookshops are shops selling textbooks and stationery. Even the bookshops that one finds in bigger towns or cities stock mostly best sellers with zero discounts offered to general readers.

"Though there are many good authors in India, many books and authors are not able to reach people everywhere because of a lack of effective distribution chain and because there are no bookshops," says Akshaya, who along with Shatabdi has set up a 'Walking BookFairs' store in Bhubaneswar."

They feel good books are not reaching people and there is a need to promote reading for pleasure, specially among school children.

"We must look beyond reading textbooks and encourage reading story books. There are so many children who have not even seen a story book let alone read one. This book tour will give children everywhere, from all sections of the society, a chance to explore the world of books, free of cost," Shatabdi says.

The Walking BookFairs book truck is a free library for all, where everybody is welcome to browse and read for free. It is also a bookshop where people can buy books at a discount.
Shatabdi and Akshaya say the society has successfully alienated a whole generation of young people from reading, thinking and questioning. "We as a society, as citizens, as parents, teachers and friends, have an obligation to inspire and encourage young people to read more books. It is only through books that we can create a truly beautiful world without boundaries where each of us can realise their true potential," says Akshaya.

Last year, they had launched the 'Read Odisha Tour 2015′ where they had taken books to all 30 districts of Odisha. "We have been planning an all India book tour for some time and with great difficulty we have finally managed to put everything together," he says.

Shatabdi and Akshaya have three publishers supporting their tour -- HarperCollins India, Pan Macmillan India and Parragon Publishers.

"Even with their support, this turned out to be a very expensive tour, but we decided to go ahead with it as we felt very strongly about it," says Shatabdi.

Currently, they are in Karnataka after touring Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

"We have been conducting free reading sessions with thousands of schoolchildren in various schools where school children come and read story books for free at the Walking BookFairs free library.

"We have also been stopping at various locations to hold public book displays where people come to browse, read or buy books. We are meeting many people, school students, college students, book lovers, tourists, writers etc," says Akshaya, adding that they hope to inspire and encourage more people everywhere to read more books and to spread the love of books far and wide.

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Diana Sanu
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