Saturday, 30 September, 2023

Amar Ekushey Book Fair Amid Pandemic

Poor sale upsets publishers utterly

Poor sale upsets publishers utterly
Two fair-goers without maintaining social distancing and wearing face masks flip through the pages of a book at a stall while most of the stalls remain empty at Amar Ekushey Book Fair at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital on Wednesday. — SUN photo

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Publishers participating in the Amar Ekushey Book Fair are very frustrated as they cannot sell books as per their expectation due to low turnout of book lovers at the fair amid the fresh surge of coronavirus.

Many publishers, while talking to the daily sun, said they are witnessing poor sale of books since the beginning of this year’s fair, and the sales have sharply fallen in the last several days.

Meanwhile, considering the recent spike in the coronavirus infection rate, Bangla Academy on Wednesday changed schedule of Amar Ekushey Book Fair and decided to remain it open from 3:00pm to 6.30pm every day.

The regular schedule of the fair was 3:00pm-9:00pm. On holidays and weekends, the fair started from 11:00am.

Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of Adorn Publication Syed Zakir Hossain said, “I’ve never seen such low turnout of visitors in Amar Ekushey Book Fair. I feared lower sales due to the ongoing pandemic, but no sale at all in a whole day.”

He said they usually depend on certain phases of the fair for higher sales. When the fair was organised in February every year they targeted different occasions like Pahela Falgun, Valentine’s Day and International Mother Language Day for boosting sales.

As book fair this year was arranged in March, good sales were expected on Independence Day, but it didn’t happen for traffic restrictions imposed by police for VVIP movement on the day and dawn-to-dusk countrywide strike enforced by Hefazat-e-Islam the following day.

“We haven’t seen much sale even at this favourable time. I fear that most of the publishers will not be able to recoup the costs of preparing and operating stalls in this year,” said Khondoker Sohel, publisher of Bhashachitra.

Despite taking all necessary preparations and bringing quality books, almost all publishers have got disappointed at the poor turnout of book lovers at the fair, he added.

Dipankar Das, proprietor of Batighar Prokashoni, said, “We’ve brought a number of new books in the fair and conducted publicity for those. We’re getting online orders, but it seems that the appearance of readers in the fair has dried out.”

President of Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh Farid Ahmed said it is time for the publishers and Bangla Academy to think of situation.

When asked about the low turnout of the visitors in fair, Bangla Academy Director and Member Secretary of the fair organising committee Jalal Ahmed said, “Although we have taken all necessary steps to ensure safety and security of the visitors, it is difficult to remove the fear from their mind.”  

He, however, said, “We’ll continue the fair unless the situation deteriorates further.”