The 24th Muscat International Book Fair has been pulling crowds in large numbers. Officially opened by Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, in the presence of Dr Abdulmunim bin Mansour al Hasani, Minister of Information, and officials from both government and private sectors on Wednesday, the fair has already welcomed a steady stream of visitors to its various attractions that include a children’s theatre and a book vending machine besides the more than 523,000 titles.
The book vending machine, primarily aimed at attracting the child readers, has nearly half a dozen titles, is placed at the entrance that would invariably catch the little eyes at once. It aims to get young students more interested in reading.
Initiated by Al Azri Centre for Books, it has titles that interest the young minds and a minimum of 500 baisas is what a child would need to insert for a favourite title.
“This book vending machine is a noble concept which we have seen in foreign countries and invokes curiosity in the minds of children,” a representative of Al Azri Centre for Books said.
The Minister of Tourism and Minister of Information had a hands-on experience trying the machine which was received by an applauding crowd on the opening day.
“What we see around is locking up a stack of books behind a wall of glass and then demanding payment for them from the kids or their parents. But this practice would seem like a counter-intuitive way to promote literacy, but in this case it appears to be working,” he added.
Initial experience suggests that this novelty is just too great a reward and the kids are gathering around to grab their favourite title through the machine.
“We are used to insert a few hundred baisas for a chocolate or packed juice at shopping malls and clinics whereas this book vending machine is invoking a sense of curiosity in the children’s minds. This would support our efforts to get our kids reading,” a parent who was helping his child get a book said.
Spread over a sprawling area of 12,350 square metres, more than 1,129 pavilions are offering titles that would talk about the entire universe and a visit to the book fair would definitely suffice the quest for knowledge and information in the hearts of bibliophiles of different ages.
Be it the history, astronomy, geophysics or politics or one act plays or poem or novelette, MIBF has it all sterling to one and all.