Considering the sale of 3,000 poetry books at the two-day Bengaluru Poetry Festival, one would assume that sales of poetry books, in general, are quite good. But poets, publishers and booksellers collectively lamented that poetry is often dubbed “unrealistic and dramatically intellectual” compared to prose.
Hence, poetry books are the least sold, say booksellers, and this chain reaction has most publishers throwing up their hands in total despair.
“We have often published books with poems — single author and collectives. We tried them in all combinations for six years with many titles. Nearly 500 books are now relegated to the godown,” said a New Delhi-based publisher and a bookseller.
Art for art’s sake is not financially viable, say bookstore owners. “There is no reason why we have to be answerable to questions on social responsibility. We have a few titles on our shelves, but with just about 16-10 books being sold in two years, it does not translate to money. We are not rich enough for rotations and trials,” said Janaki Vallabh, whose bookstore in Orissa got him nothing from poetry books.