We can all help book publishers to develop new writers
Tribune Editorial

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    Photo- BIGSTOCK

The popularity of bookstalls at the Dhaka Lit Fest and annual Ekushey Boi Mela show there is no shortage of appetite for books in Bangladesh.

In providing a platform for learning and debate, the cultural exchange fostered by these events plays a special role in helping to disseminate Bangladeshi culture and literature and culture, and in inspiring more people to get involved in our creative industries.

Unfortunately as a nation, we are failing to properly satisfy public demand or nurture enough new writers and publishers because of barriers holding back our publishing and book-selling industries.

In part, the lack of a truly vibrant publishing industry reflects the high rates of adult illiteracy which our nation has historically tolerated. With rising enrollment in schools and a growing economy, there can no longer be any excuse for the government not to do more to bring about a fully literate population.

For Bangladesh to advance in the global knowledge economy, we need to do much more to remove constraints on publishers and to increase readership and book sales.

The curse of piracy is the biggest challenge we need to overcome to help publishers.

While superficially attractive to students who obtain cheaply photocopied textbooks, creativity and research is stifled as piracy deprives writers and publishers of the royalties and funds needed to support the development of new work. As a result, students across the land still suffer from scarcity in the availability of good quality and original books.

As well as clamping down on piracy and improving protection of intellectual property, the government should also move towards coming in line with countries which impose no taxes on books at all.

Investment in building and developing public lending libraries should also be ramped up to help nurture interest in reading and writing among children. Space to set them up is readily available at or alongside schools and public offices.

There is no reason, also, why more philanthropists should not also be encouraged to create new libraries and give support to endeavours to advance education,

Books and literature are the basis of knowledge and culture. Every possible effort must be made to enhance access to their benefits.  

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