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Dhaka Tribune

Ekushey Book Fair: Parents disappointed over poor collection of childrens’ books

Anannya Shahjabeen Ahmed, a mother who visits the Ekushey Book Fair every year, has visited the fair this year as well, and bought a book for her son from Sisimpur Publication.

Update : 02 Apr 2021, 02:09 PM

On the eve of International Children’s Book Day, guardians have expressed their dissatisfaction over the poor collection of childrens’ books at this year’s Amar Ekushey Book Fair.

Anannya Shahjabeen Ahmed, a mother who visits the Ekushey Book Fair every year, has visited the fair this year as well, and bought a book for her son from Sisimpur Publication. 

However, she expressed her disappointment to Dhaka Tribune and said: “I think the number of books published were lesser this year compared to the last few years.”

Eliza Nasreen, a housewife and mother of two, said she usually takes her kids to the fair but this year she didn’t do so as she observed that most of the stalls were showcasing old books published in the past.

On the other hand, owners and publishers of stalls especially installed for children expressed grave concerns over reaching a satisfying turn-over.

Nazmus Sakib, sales executive at Light of Hope publication, expressed his satisfaction by stating: “Our stall is in front of the entrance to Shishu Chattar (Children’s Corner), which is an advantage for us as it helps us reach more customers. Our books are colourful as well, which attracts children and their parents. Apart from that, most of our customers are repeat customers as we are known online.”

He also added that this year they were not being able to sell their books like before but as such a situation was expected they didn’t publish new books for the annual book fair.

Imran Hossain, a sales associate from Ghuri Publication, who is also a student of Dhaka University, works at the publication stall every year as it is owned by one of his relatives.

He said: “The situation is at its worst. It has been two weeks since the book fair commenced and we still haven’t managed to sell books worth even Tk5,000. There are days where we couldn’t even sell one book.”

Publishers feel that as there is no stage show by Sisimpur this year, there has been a fall in customers at the book fair.

Sisimpur’s Sales Executive Md Imran Hossain agreed with this statement and said: “There are no customers around the Shishu Chattar because Sisimpur didn’t build their stage for children this year. Sisimpur’s stall is also in a bad location, located towards the back of the Chattar. Sisimpur usually attracts people, but this year people were not able to find Sisimpur’s stall easily.”

“We can’t even manage to earn daily costs such as tea or snacks, employee salaries, and the transportation and maintenance costs of the stall. Overall, it’s a horrible situation,” he added.

Sirajul Islam, a director at Mela Publication, stressed that there were problems with the newly imposed timings of the fair due to the Covid-19 case surge in the country. 

In conversation with Dhaka Tribune, he said: “People walk here and there but they don’t purchase books. People usually come to the fair in the afternoon.”

“But according to the new directives, the book fair will close at 6:30pm. So, why will people come here?” he questioned.

“Now-a-days, people do not have money to buy books as many are now unemployed. As Sisimpur didn’t arrange stage shows for children this year, parents and their children are not coming to the fair.”

Jhingephol Manager Md Rafiqul Islam echoed in agreement with Sirajul.

Jalal Ahmed, a visitor at the fair, vented out his anger: “Mahfil, markets, and protests all run well in this country, but initiatives such as this book fair do not.”

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