Bangla Academy authorities and publishers had different opinions about the quality of books published during the month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair that ended on Thursday, though the fair witnessed numerous books this year.
A total of 3,416 new books have been published this year. Of these, only 909 books can be considered quality books, according to Bangla Academy.
"In 2020, 4,919 new books were published. There were 751 standard books in the year. It means 15 percent of the new books were standard in that year. This time 26 percent of the total published books are standard. Therefore, more quality books have been published this time," he said.
But the publishers have reacted strongly regarding the academy’s list and questioned the process of preparing such a list of quality books.
Former Additional Executive Director at Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh (ACPAB) Khandaker Sohel said that the Bangla Academy does not follow any of the procedures required to make such a list. Therefore, he thinks this list to be incorrect.
"As far as we know, Bangla Academy does not have adequate manpower to consider so many books in a month. As a result, this list is not exhaustive. Again, there is no explanation about the criteria for selecting quality books. I and many other publishers did not submit any books to them," he said.
President of the Capital Committee of Publishers and Book Sellers Association of Bangladesh Mazharul Islam said, "Bangla Academy needs to follow a transparent method of preparing such a list."
Some of the publishers have blamed Bangla Academy for so many poor-quality books. They said that Bangla Academy has made it mandatory to have at least 10 new books for any new publisher who is interested to take part in the fair with a stall. Besides, the publishers who apply to increase the unit will have to publish 25 books a year.
Proprietor and publisher of Bidya Prokash Mazibar Rahman Khoka said, "If there are 400 publishing houses participating in the fair, and if each publisher has to publish 25 books per year to increase the number of stall units, 10,000 books will be published annually. Is it possible to publish so many quality books in our country every year?"
"Rather, the Bangla Academy should have allotted stalls after checking the quality of the books. It would have been possible to prevent low-quality books easily," he added.
Jalal Ahmed, however, thinks that the number of substandard books is increasing as big publishers are not interested in submitting quality books to the information centre of Bangla Academy.
"Many people are trying to question our process. You say which one is right. The people who are criticizing us should prepare a list. If you sell books worth Tk50 crore (this year books worth Tk52.50 crore have been sold in the fair) a year you have also some responsibilities. Do you have a language editor? I have found many of them think that editing means only correcting the spelling," he said.
Some 3,500 books are published in Amar Ekushey Book Fair every year on average but the readers claim that a huge percentage of these books lack quality.