Every year, April 23 is an important day across the globe as it celebrates the importance of books, which form a vital bridge between generations and cultures, and encourages everyone to access books.
Celebrated as World Book Day (or World Book and Copyright Day or International Day of the Book), it is a UNESCO initiative to promote reading, publishing and copyright.
The first such celebration was held in 1995, with the convergence of the three major players in the book industry – publishers, booksellers and libraries.
April 23 is a significant day in the world of literature as it is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso, passed away.
Here, we take a brief look at the book and publishing scene in Goa.
No discussion on the book scene in Goa is complete without mention of the State Central Library, commonly called the Central Library, which is one of the oldest libraries in India. It was started by the Portuguese in 1832, and was known as Publica Livraria back then.
Following several name changes, it came to be known as Krishnadas Shama State Central Library in 2012, when it was shifted to a larger, more modern premises.
FIRST PRINTING PRESS
It is no secret that Goa had the first Gutenberg-type printing press in Asia, and it reached here in 1556 via the Jesuits.
Post-Independence, great efforts were made to promote reading and libraries, with the government setting up libraries in the major cities of Goa as well as villages all over the state, including Tivim, Parra, Sattari, Curtorim, etc.
Municipal libraries, found in cities such as Mapusa, Panjim, Margao are ages old and continue to be popular among those who love the printed word.
Private libraries began popping up in the state in the early 20th century, some of which, like the Saraswati Mandir Library (Panjim) and the Gomant Vidya Niketan Library (Margao), continue to function to this day.
Prominent libraries which deserve mention include Livraria Confidant (Margao), NIO, Kala Academy (Panjim), DMC Library (Assagao), the Archbishop’s Archives (Panjim), Xavier Centre for Historical Research (Porvorim), Thomas Stevens Konknni Kendr (Porvorim), also contain specialised literature, among other things.
From North to South Goa, the libraries of major colleges in the state – Carmel College (Nuvem), Dhempe College of Arts & Science (Panjim), Rosary College of Arts & Commerce (Navelim) etc – also maintain a fine collection of reading material.
Decades ago, private circulating libraries such as Avanti (Panjim), Seko (Mapusa), Confidant (Panjim & Margao) were the preferred option for those wanting to read books without having to purchase them, while newer libraries such as Bookworm (Panjim) and Toolo (Corlim) are specifically geared towards children.
HOTEL BOOK STORES
While private and public libraries have long been the most common sources of literature available to the public, there was another unlikely source of books back in the day – hotels. Around the 70s and 80s, a couple of leading hotels in the state also housed book shops on their premises.
Hotel Mandovi and Hotel Fidalgo, both in Panjim, were well-known names in the capital city and had book stores which stocked a variety of national and international publications, magazines, novels and more, most of which were unavailable in local bookshops.
From the 90s, book exhibitions were regularly held in Goa, and most took place in Panjim. A wealth of publications – both Indian and foreign – could be purchased at these events, which were well-attended and popular among book-lovers in Goa.
LOCAL BOOK STORES
Although the demand for books has decreased over the decades, some book sellers such as Varsha Book Shop (Panjim), Singbal’s (Panjim), Suraj Book Shop (Mapusa) etc have stood the test of time, while bigger and more modern stores such as Broadway (Panjim) and Crossword (Panjim) set up shop in recent years.
Goa has many book publishers, big and small. Goa 1556, which started in 2007, has so far published nearly 200 titles, most of which are non-fiction or related to Goa.
CinnamonTeal is another familiar name in the field of publishing in Goa and has published mostly fiction in the 15+ years of its existence.
Rajhauns Sankalpana Pvt Ltd, Qurate Books Pvt Ltd, New Age Printers, Printer’s Devil are among the others which regular publish literature in Goa.
With so many sources of reading material in the state, it is clear that books aren’t going to go out of fashion anytime soon, irrespective of the popularity and convenience of the internet.