Book Towns

Forty-five Paradises of the Printed Word

Author: Alex Johnson

Publisher: Frances Lincoln (UK)

Book towns are part of a growing global movement. In hamlets, villages and towns around the world, like-minded booksellers, calligraphers, bookbinders, curators, publishers and architects are coming together to create this new world. This is the first book bring all of these book towns together, offering a unique history of each one. A book town is simply a small town, usually rural and scenic, full of bookshops and book related industries.

The movement started with Richard Booth in Hay-on-Wye in Wales in 1960s. From the start, the driving force has been to encourage sustainable tourism and help regenerate communities faced with economic collapse and soaring unemployment. The results of the book town crusaders are have been impressive. They are attracting more visitors who then stay in the local hostels and guest houses, dine in the local eateries go shopping in the town shops and gradually rebuild the local economy.

Although they all operate independently, many are members of the International Organisation of Book Towns. The IOBT aims to raise interesting the book town ethos and runs a biennial festival in one of the member towns.

Inevitably not all book towns have stayed the course. But on the brighter side, new locations are in the pipeline. Indian authorise have recently begun what they hope will become a ‘book village’ network. This book documents two Indian examples namely Bhilar, Maharashtra and College Street, in Kolkata.

Simple and straightforward illustration on the cover represents the content well. Profusely printed photographs of the book towns from around the globe are spectacular. Alex has given picture credits to more than a hundred twenty photographers in the book! The paper used, the size of the book (21mm x 16mm), book design, the fonts used collectively makes the book tempting to any prospective bibliophile.

The author, Alex Johnson is a journalist and blogger. He has many interesting titles to his credit. A Book of Book Lists, Improbable libraries, Bookshelf, and Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution are to list a few. He lives in St Albans with his wife, three children, and plenty of books from all over the world.

At a time when libraries are an endangered species and independent bookshops struggle agains many odes, book towns are beacons of hope in the fight to keep the traditions book alive. Please visit them and buy a book or two.

(Adapted from the introduction) 

Auswaf Ahsan

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Chennai (PTI): Life was thrown out of gear in Chennai and its neighbouring districts on Monday as relentless rains pounded various parts leading to inundation, raising fears of a repeat of 2015 deluge.

People were seen scampering to buy and refill supplies and essential items with drinking water being on high demand. There was no let up in the downpour that led to power outages and internet disruption.

Cyclonic storm Michaung, which is likely to cross the coast in Andhra Pradesh on the forenoon of Tuesday lay near Chennai and Puducherry, bringing heavy rains.

The name 'Michaung' was suggested by Myanmar. It means strength or resilience.

Transport services took a severe hit as number of trains and flights were cancelled. Heavily inundated roads posed a challenge to road users who were few and far.

Many parts of the state capital and the adjoining districts of Kancheepuram, Chengalpet and Tiruvallur came under sheets of water even as the government machinery was deployed to clear the stagnant water and inundation.

In its latest update, the weather office said the rains were likely to continue in these districts till late on Monday.

"Cyclonic storm "MICHAUNG centered over the west central and adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal off south Andhra Pradesh and adjoining North Tamil Nadu coasts moved northwestwards at a speed of 8 KMPH, intensified into a Severe Cyclonic Storm over the same region on December 4. It is likely to move nearly northwards almost parallel and close to south Andhra Pradesh coast and and cross between Nellore and Machilipatnam (AP) during forenoon of December 5 as a Severe Cyclonic Storm," an update from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

In Chennai, cabinet ministers Udhayanidhi Stalin and Ma Subramanian visited the affected areas and oversaw the relief activities.

The Chennai airport operations were suspended from 9.40 am to 11 pm. As many as 70 flights arriving to and departing from the airport were cancelled owing to non-stop rains. The runway and tarmac also remain shut due to waterlogging, the Airport Authority of India said.

Rail and air services suffered cancellation and delays.

"In view of water flowing above danger level, the bridge no.14 between Basin bridge and Vyasarpadi has been suspended on account of safety reasons," and six trains originating from the Dr.MGR Chennai Central to destinations including Coimbatore and Mysuru were cancelled on Monday morning, the Southern Railway said, adding full refund shall be granted to all passengers of the above trains.

According to airport officials, 12 domestic outbound services, including to destinations like Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram were cancelled. Four international services, including to Dubai and Sri Lanka were cancelled by a private carrier.

Three arriving international services were diverted to Bengaluru.

As many as 14 subways in the city have been closed due to inundation, the city police said.

In 11 places, uprooted trees were removed.

Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary, Environment Climate Change and Forests, Tamil Nadu government, Supriya Sahu reacted to a viral video of a crocodile crossing a road in suburban Perungulathur area during heavy rains in Chennai.

In a post on X, she said, "Many are tweeting about this video. There are a few mugger crocodiles in several of the water bodies in Chennai. These are shy elusive animals and avoid human contact. This one has come out as the water has overflown due to massive rains under the impact of #CycloneMichuang please do not go close to water bodies."

"There is no possibility of harm to humans IF these animals are left alone & UNPROVOKED. No need to panic. Wildlife division has been alerted and they are on the job to avoid any untoward incident #cyclonemichaung #Cyclone #Michaung #ChennaiRains."

At Velachery in the city, a portion of land reportedly gave way, leading to a deep pit and some people were trapped.

Also, a building in the locality caved in trapping some workers. Two people have been rescued and admitted to the hospital, police said without sharing further details.

The Industries Department has set up a help desk for providing information and assistance to small and medium enterprises.

"SIPCOT is continuously monitoring and clearing hurdles within the industrial parks located in affected districts using patrol teams," an official said.