Coinciding with the constitutional day and the birth anniversary of the Father of Bhutan’s Constitution, the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, two books were launched in the capital Thimphu. Two books titled ‘11-11-11’ and ‘The Raven tells a Story’ were launched by Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk and Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuk respectively. Both the launches were no surprise attended by many high profile politicians and bureaucrats. No doubt, His Majesty deserved more than such a tribute. Indeed this tribute is such a little drop for the ocean of his noble roles and reign.
However, I have problems with these authors, publishers and the bookstores. Every day, I visit at least one of the bookstores in Thimphu. I look at the shelf where the Bhutanese books are neatly kept in their hard glossy cover. The prices of Bhutanese books are ridiculously high. Even less than a -hundred -page book written by a high school dropout, which has neither the quality content nor the quality paper cost no less than Nu.200.
If the books are written by high profile authors, the prices can be of ‘oh my god’ factor. Worst, the prices are tagged in USD. Conversion to Bhutanese currency means one has to lease out more than thousand bucks. The Bhutanese books seemed to be priced and prized for its paper rather than content quality. The books aimed for innocently rich tourists can be nothing but prostituting of sort with self-flattery. Besides what is the use of Bhutanese author who craves for fame, and whine of lack of audience when the price are tagged beyond reach of ordinary Bhutanese reader.
The wisdom and legacy of the leader must be shared to its people. The Bhutanese authors who use Bhutan and its leader for vested interests like fame and favour must understand that we don’t have to sell wisdom of leader and innocence of citizens to other countries. The authors are Royal Family, Politicians and senior bureaucrats who seemed to feed dry mushroom on the clean plate. One could only wish that the people see their real intention under the façade of printed loyalty and dedication. They must also understand that the wisdom of leader and state of nation should be shared with people first at the reasonable rates rather than selling it to the tourists who wrote in their blogs with lots of misinformation and misinterpretation.
It is quite interesting to notice our politicians and bureaucrats swarming the book launch by high profile leaders despite their packed schedule. It will be more interesting and encouraging if our senior politicians and bureaucrats could grace with their presence during the launch of books by aspiring and young authors. But then the PR of attending the aspiring author’s book launch will not be enough to make up for wastage of their precious schedules.