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Largest-Ever Book Fair Uncovers Treasure Trove

Valuable literary artifacts and new literary creations are both on display at the largest-ever book fair in Vietnam that opened last Thursday in Hanoi, providing an opportunity for book lovers to find publications that interest them and to improve a declining reading culture among Vietnamese people. A total of 1,000 books are available online, while a large number are on sale by the 100 domestic and 22 foreign enterprises participating in the fair, which will close on October 15. Ancient books were among the most well-received items, including material about Thang Long citadel, wooden Buddhist prayer books from the 18th century, and even books printed during the French-resistance war with blurred printing lines from absorbing the sweat and blood of workers. Truyen Kieu (The Story of Kieu), considered the most well-known work by great Vietnamese poet Nguyen Du, written in calligraphy also drew much attention. The hand-written book is 1.2m by 1.6m and weighs 75 kg, and each page is decorated by painter Phan Ke. Foreign science books are also available from VND20,000 ($1.31) to VND25 million ($1,644). Paperback and hardback books are also for sale, in addition to old texts, some with a 10-20% discount or even 50%. The event also aims to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publishing and distribution sector, which now faces difficulties from illegal book importation and publishing and attempts to lower prices. It targets the number of books per capita being four by 2005, from around 2.5 currently. (HCM City Youth Oct 11 p3, Pioneer Sunday Oct 13 p8, Capital Security Oct 12 p8) JOURNAL-CODE: VNB

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