The Amar Ekushey Book Fair is in dire straits owing to a lack of customers during the countrywide lockdown imposed by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19
Despite the resumption of public transportation, people have apparently lost their interest in the Amar Ekushey Book Fair. The 21st day of the fair was barren as in the previous days of the lockdown.
Only a handful of visitors came to the fair and most of them did not even buy books. Visitors left after only reading through the flap jackets of the books, complained sales executives.
Rafiuzzaman Turja, sales executive of Saptadinga's bookstall, said: "Though public transports have been running from 6am still visitors are not coming. The people who visited the fair only sat here and there, engaging in conversations."
"From 12pm to 4pm, so far we have sold only two books. One of them costs Tk60, another costs Tk50," Sanjida Sumi, another executive of the stall, added. It was an hour before the fair closed for the day.
A sales executive of Bangali Publication, Sultana Akter, told this correspondent that in comparison with Tuesday, more people were coming as transport was available but most of them go to the “big pavilions.”
She was frustrated that she had not been able to sell a single book.
The cashier of Panjeree Publications, Nuruzzaman Sobuj, said that he did not see any difference between the previous two days' sales and Wednesday's. According to him, people are still not coming to visit the fair due to the surge of Covid-19.
"Some people find it ridiculous that the book fair is going on during the lockdown. On the other hand, what is more ridiculous is that not only the book fair but public transports too are running during the lockdown.”
He added: “This year our sales will amount to only 5% of what we sold in previous years.”
Agreeing with him, Asadur Rahman, manager of Oboshor Publication, said: "Today is the 21st day of the book fair and by this time every year we sell at least books worth Tk2 lakh. But this year we have only made Tk5000-6000."
"Only Tamrolipi and Prothoma Publications are getting customers as they have published a few books by celebrities. Every year, Anyaprokash Publication sells a lot of books but this year they are also in a dire situation and I know this because their pavilion is beside ours," he said.
However, Zakir Hossain, Manager of Prothoma Publication, had a contrary opinion. As he put it, "People say so many things but for all our investment on this pavilion, we know our profit is almost zero. The way things are going is not called business."