Taking advantage of the weekend, a large number of booklovers and visitors flocked to the Amar Ekushey book fair at Bangla Academy in Dhaka on Friday.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, some of the stall owners said the month-long fair saw a relatively larger crowd of visitors, surpassing the attendance records of the previous few days.
A total of 1,138 new books have so far been launched since the beginning of the event on February 1. The number of new books launched on Friday was 344, a record-breaking figure for the last couple days.
A lower number of people was seen on the fairground on Thursday, the day when a Dhaka court sentenced former prime minister Khaleda Zia to five years in prison in a graft case, amid heightened security measures in Dhaka and beyond.
However, the number of readers and visitors soared on Friday afternoon, as the situation started returning to normal.
With celebrated writers and their fans, the fairground turned into a rendezvous for booklovers on the day.
Among others, writers Muhammed Zafar Iqbal and Imdadul Haq Milon visited the venue and posed for cameras with their fans.
Kamrul Hasan, a salesman at Tamrolipi stall, said: “We sold a record number of books on Friday. A majority of visitors were seen asking mostly for Zafar Iqbal’s books.”
A visitor and freedom fighter from Sylhet said: “Even though most of the people were worried over their safety on Thursday as a tense situation was prevailing across the country, booklovers arrived in the venue on time, defying all obstacles. They managed to come to the fair because they really love books and have an abiding passion for reading books.”
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith also graced the fair with his presence as one of his latest books, Sangkat o Sujog, was launched on Friday by Somoy Publications.
The veteran politician said the book addresses a wider range of issues including politics, culture, and literature of Bangladesh.
“As we are in the government, we cannot always criticize ourselves in public. I therefore think that writing and publishing books is the best to engage in self-criticism and to independently express our opinions.”
With the first two hours from 11am designated as children's hours every Friday and Saturday during the book fair, children came with their guardians and had fun while browsing through books and magazines at Suhrawardy Udyan near Bangla Academy.
The Bangla Academy authorities said their stalls saw a total sale of Tk2,103,264 from February 1 to 7.