• Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Hartal, traffic restrictions hit Ekushey Book Fair sales

  • Published at 02:32 pm March 28th, 2021
Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2021
File photo: People roaming around at the Ekushey Book FairDhaka Tribune/Mehedi Hasan

Some publishers fear stalls may have to shut down if hartal continues

Publishers at most stalls at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair were left disappointed with a low turnout on the 11th day of the fair Sunday, as prospective visitors were discouraged by the dawn-to-dusk general strike enforced by Hefazat-e-Islam.

The turnout was already much lower than expected on Friday and Saturday due to traffic restrictions imposed by police for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka. Publishers said they had hoped to recoup the losses on the Sunday, but the general strike (hartal) threw a spanner in their plans. 

In previous years, the Book Fair would be teeming with writers, publishers, and bookworms from across the country. This year’s edition has looked like a ghost town in comparison because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The recent travel restrictions and hartal took the visitor turnout even lower, striking another blow against sellers who are already reeling.

Abu Musa, a cashier for Prothoma publisher, said: “Sales are generally higher on weekends. We had expected lower sales because of the pandemic, but another day with no sales at all is very difficult for us. If there had been no hartal, at least some people would have come.”

Some publishers fear their stalls may have to shut down if the hartal continues.

Asking to remain anonymous, one publisher who has participated in the fair for the last seven years said: “There are four boys and girls working at my stall, and none of them wanted to come [to the fair] today because of the hartal. One of them has to come here from Narayanganj and he took leave.

“If the turnout remains so low, we may have to shut down our stall in the middle of the fair,” he added.

Chandan Chowdhury of BehulaBangla Publication said: “Of the 70 new books we have published, 70% are poetry books by new authors. My intention was to introduce them to the readers by publishing their books at this book fair. New writers will be heavily affected by the low turnout at the fair.”

As of March 27, a total 1,259 new books had arrived at the fair. Most are novels and fiction.

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