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During the 1980s and early 1990s, Kolkata played host to two annual book fairs, one by the Kolkata Publishers' and Booksellers' Guild, and one by the Government of West Bengal − the Grontho Mela ('Grontho' is archaic Bengali word for book).
'Grontho Mela' was held from late December until early January, and was the showcase for books published by Government-run publishing houses.
The fair offers a typical fairground experience with a book flavour – with picnickers, singer-songwriters, and candy floss vendors.
The book fair and a few other fairs, however, were granted special permission by the Kolkata High Court to continue holding the fair on the Maidan in 20.
While this was initially a rival commercial venture, the unprecedented growth of the 'Kolkata Book Fair' caused the Government of West Bengal to merge the two book fairs in 1992.
Conservation problems for the Victoria Memorial include high dust pollution, which is often accentuated by public fairs on the Maidan.
It was initially a week-long event but popular demand forced authorities to extend the duration to 12 days in 2005.
Even though there is usually an extended holiday in Calcutta during the period of 23 January (Subhas Chandra Bose's birthday) to 26 January (Republic Day of India), the fair is held at the beginning of February to overlap with the payday of most Kolkatans.
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Even though the country now has several large bookshops like Landmark, Starmark, Crossword Bookstores, and The Oxford Bookstore, in addition to the book shop district of College Street, the tradition persists and Calcutta Book Fair is growing every year.