The month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair organized by Bangla Academy ended with a turnover of over Tk70.50 crore on Tuesday.
According to the academy, 4,591 new books were published at this years fair.
Publishers have expressed more mixed reactions than last year, with some complaining that renowned publications get to publish the works of prominent writers, which enables them to claim a much larger market share.
Publisher of Mowla Brothers Mahmudul Haque said: “We have many talented writers and we should spread the taste of Bangla literature by translating books for a global readership.”
Sanjana, publisher of Sabyashachi Publications said: “Those who were allotted stalls in the less visible, comparatively difficult to access sides of the fair have had lower sales than the easily visible, well decorated stalls situated near the front.”
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Somoy Prokashon’s Farid Ahmed said: “This year's book fair was good as it catered to the wants and needs of readers, writers, and publishers alike in terms of ambience and management, much more than previous years.
“One thing that needs to be addressed by Bangla Academy is that the stalls were placed in an order that favoured well-known publishers and mainstream readers. Other publishers should also get some of the limelight.”
He also said: “With the growing number of stalls and pavilions, along with the massive response, sales at the fair have been increasing over the last few years.”
Regarding the publishing of works by lesser-known and newer writers, Farid said: “We try to publish books on the basis of merit, regardless of whether the writer is popular or new, but popular writers have been a priority.”
Most of the stalls in the Bangla Academy portion of the fair were owned by departments of the government, public universities, and other organizations.
Joynal Abedin, an official of the Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB), told the Dhaka Tribune: “Our sales have decreased compared to last year.”
Representing the Book Fair Organizing Committee, Dr Jalal Ahmed said certain publishers received less desirable spots due to bad luck, as the academy allotted stalls through lottery.
“However, this year the area of fair was extended so that visitors can move freely and stalls have more space” he added.
Dr. Jalal also said: "The sales from Bangla Academy alone earned about Tk 1.50 crore as of February 27."
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The closing ceremony was held on the main stage of Bangla Academy, where Bangla Academy Director General Shamsuzzaman Khan greeted the audience.
Presided over by Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman, the program was attended by Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor as chief guest, and Secretary to the same ministry Ibrahim Hossain Khan, among others.
A total 719 stalls (units) were set up by 455 publishers this year. Among them, 136 stalls belonging to 92 organizations were allocated on the academy premises, while 583 stalls belonging to 363 organizations were allocated at Sohrawardy Udayan.
Last year, there were 663 stalls from 409 publishing houses.
Although 4,591 new books were launched at this year’s fair, only 24 of them were related to the Language Movement. Among the newly launched books, an all-time high of 1,472 were poem collections.
On the last day of the fair, 255 new books were launched.