The Walking Book Fair: A Consensual Piracy

Facebook Inc. is one of the largest corporations in the world who earn a revenue of billions of dollars. Do you know how they earn this money? They steal the hard work of independent booksellers. The stolen ideas, stolen wages, stolen data and human rights abuse is what these companies strive for.

The Walking Book Fair is a small, fiercely independent bookstore founded by Akshaya Bahibala and Satapdi Mishwa in Koraput, Orissa. They are called Walking Book Fair because they carry books in backpacks and boxes and walked from village to village to display books on the footpaths of Orissa.

They had no resources but they wanted to take books to more people in their home state of Odisha, so they bought a second- hand ambulance with great difficulty, loaded it with books, driving to all 30 districts of Orissa. They sold it to various schools, colleges and universities.

Walking Book Fair, a travelling bookstore and library is the only independent bookstore or library in India that has traveled more than 35,000 km across 20 states of India to make books accessible for thousands of people. Satapdi Mishra, an independent bookseller and co-founder to drive a bookseller throughout India.

The owners of Facebook stole their work, their life story which made a problematic ad for their own profit. The Facebook ad made a mockery of all their struggles and hard work.

In our email to Facebook we wrote:

1. Give due credit to Walking BookFairs, Satabdi Mishra & Akshaya Rautaray in your TVs as the inspiration behind your ad

2. Issue an apology

3. Give us financial compensation

OR

Take down the ad

Facebook India replied:

We want to clarify that ads for our brand Facebook app are fictional and not based on the life or journey of any one person, group or business.

The above explanation by Facebook India is FALSE and MISLEADING, as is clear by statements made by executives of Facebook and of the ad agency Taproot Dentsu, as quoted in the following news reports:

“Facebook has rolled out the next phase of its consumer marketing campaign in India — ‘More Together’. The campaign aims to showcase how people across the country can do more together by harnessing the power of their connections on the platform.

The LATEST CAMPAIGN IS INSPIRED BY REAL STORIES and celebrates the people who came together in these trying times to help and support one another. The campaign has been conceptualized and executed by Taproot Dentsu.

According to Avinash Pant, director-marketing, Facebook India, “Over the last several months, all of us have seen and heard many stories of people across India that have been the embodiment of this idea. People who were once strangers, connected with one another through Facebook, and together addressed many challenges that have surfaced in recent times. Through this campaign, we are shining a spotlight on the REAL STORIES that have inspired us, and hope more and more of our consumers will recognize that people are indeed each other’s best resources.”

Ajit Mohan, vice-president and managing director, Facebook India said the “The growth and engagement in India continues to be exciting for us. The millennial, Gen Z and middle aged users all are using Facebook. We can see the vector of growth. This marketing effort is not about trying to find new users in certain segments. We think it is an opportunity to tell our own story and that’s the gap this campaign will fill.

I am Akshinta Das a poet,singer-songwriter and performer