ASTANA – Almaty hosted KitapFest Sept. 4, the third annual book festival initiated by the Bauyrzhan Charitable Foundation, city administration (akimat) and Eurasian Franchising Association. Three thousand free books were distributed, confirming Almaty’s status as a reading city.
The open air festival was held on the square in front of the Academy of Sciences at Chokanka, the city’s historic centre and the location of the first KitapFest.
The festive programme included the book fair with the participation of 10 publishing houses and bookstores, seminars and presentations of some publications and meetings between readers and authors. Live concerts, competitions and events for children, poetry readings, a book illustration exhibition and master class on drawing comics were also on the agenda.
The publishing tents, where visitors could buy popular books at a discount, were situated along the square. There was also a writer’s tent for book lovers. Modern Kazakh poets and writers, including Kanat Tasibekov, author of the popular guide “Situational Kazakh Language,” famous journalist Vadim Boreiko, Kazakh Union of Journalists member and publicist Dana Ormanbayeva and writer Karina Sarsenova, gave lectures and master classes.
The city’s largest libraries also organised an interesting series of events for its avid readers. Sapargali Begalin Central Library delighted guests with presentations, lotteries and a book exchange.
The organisers presented a construction made from thousands of books. Visitors had the opportunity to take the books absolutely free and in any quantity.
“The holding of KitapFest for the third time proves the fact that many Almaty citizens still prefer paper books to electronic ones and that the city needs such educational festivals. Today we saw people of all ages, starting from the small readers who barely learn to read and older ones, among the guests. As organisers, we were very delighted and excited,” said Bauyrzhan Charitable Foundation chief coordinator Ainura Salimbayeva.
Visitors were invited to take part in various initiatives, such as writing about their favourite books on a separate stand and advising someone else to read it.
“I visit the festival every year. I think that it helps promote reading and knowledge. And it is very important for the city and its residents, as reading books does not only improve but teach us to think and develop imagination. I especially anticipate the moment you can come and find something for yourself,” said Gulnaz, one of the guests.
The festival aims to promote book reading among children and young people, raise the status of Kazakh literature and encourage people to keep reading, according to the organisers. It also reminds locals that in the age of new technologies, the book still holds a leading position among other media, as well as choosing reading among various entertainment activities.
“I liked the board where visitors left their book recommendations. There was also a shelf with books free of charge and a map showing the location of libraries in the city. The adults and children were drawing with crayons on the asphalt and there was a master class in pottery. The books were distributed for free and it was nice to see that spiritual food is interesting for a huge number of citizens,” wrote I Book You project founder Marina Sharipova in her blog.