Since 2014, when a section of the book fair shifted to Suhrawardy Uddyan in order to create more space, the Little Mag corner has been based at either or near the premises of the Bangla Academy, except this year
As many as 100 little mag stalls have finally shut down after a weeklong struggle to keep their stalls running at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair.
The remaining 15 stalls are still open to visitors but may face closure soon, a little magazine editor and some stall staff have told Dhaka Tribune.
The reason behind this situation is a lack of visitors owing to the ongoing lockdown.
"It was quite impossible to continue running the stalls due to financial constraints as people are not coming to the little mag corner due to the lockdown," said Arifuzzaman, a student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology on the staff of a Little Magazine stall, told Dhaka Tribune.
Not only the lockdown but the odd timing (12-5pm) during this hot and humid weather had also been preventing people from coming to the book fair, he added.
Ristiaq Ahmed, another staff member of a Little Magazine stall, was of the view that because of a relocation of their stalls from the Bangla Academy premises to Suhrawardy Uddyan, people did not go to the Little Mag corner.
“Initially, no place was allocated for the Little Mag corner at the book fair. Then they allocated a spot but in a neglected way. After much negotiation, we are now at the current location (western side of Suhrawardy Uddyan),” he added.
Farhana Haque Shaama, an editor and one of the members of the Little Magazine Committee, said: "We need a proper space like before, one which was the centre of attraction for the fair, a place where people could sing, converse and so on."
She added that at the very beginning of the book fair, there were supposed to be 135 stalls but 20 stalls did not get any place. Though those stall owners gave Tk723 to Bangla Academy, the academy had not yet refunded the money.
She believes that it is injustice to shut down any stall without informing others because it is against the essence of the Little Magazine genre.
"It can't be their personal decision, it should be a collective decision," she added.
Two sales executives of Drishti Bookstall, Shipa Rani and Khaleda Khatun, told this correspondent that Thursday was the 22nd day of the book fair and till now they had managed to sell a mere 30 books.
Since 2014, when a section of the book fair shifted to Suhrawardy Uddyan in order to create more space, the Little Mag corner has been based either on or near the premises of the Bangla Academy alongside stalls funded by public institutions.
Even in 2020, the corner was set up on the western side of the Uddyan, close to the Bangla Academy.
This year the fair management committee at first allocated the eastern part of the historic ground for the corner. Then, after loud protests from stall owners, the committee gave them the same location as last year, on the western side of Suhrawardy Uddyan.
In 2014, there were 45 stalls and in 2015 there were 60 stalls. There were 85 stalls in 2016, 100 in 2017, 136 stalls in 2018 and 131 in 2019. In 2020 there were 150 Little Mag stalls at the book fair.