Writers and publishers alleged that this scenario has been prevalent for the last few years and certain publishing houses have brought pirated books, especially from India.
A Bangla Academy rule states that only local publishing houses with books and write-ups from Bangladeshi writers can participate and set up a stall at the book fair.
In exceptional cases, a publishing house may bring a foreign author’s book with exclusive permission from the author and also obtain approval from Bangla Academy, book fair authorities said.
But sources claimed that more than 12 noted publishing houses have brought foreign books mainly of authors based in West Bengal.
Comics and cartoon publications were also put on display at the book fair which the sources claimed were also brought from West Bengal violating Bangla Academy’s rule for participating at the fair.
Talking to this correspondent, several publishers pointed out that such a scenario is a threat to the industry and Bangla literature as it devalues the creativity of local writers. It also contradicts the very motive of the book fair, they added.
They also observed that the pirated children’s books and comics were of low standards and it may impact the a child’s mindset negatively.
When this correspondent contacted three of the 12 alleged publishing houses regarding the issue, one of them denied bringing any pirated publication and the other two said they have removed such books from their stalls. However, they claimed that they had taken permission from respective foreign writers and Bangla Academy.
Moreover, some publishing houses were selling books violating another rule which stated that any publication at the book fair cannot sold at a discount of more than 25%, expect books owned by Bangla Academy.
A general book fair rule states that all books sold during the month-long fair must exactly have a 25% discount.
But some publishers were giving discounts of 30% to 50% on children’s book which were mostly from West Bengal.
Following several allegations of pirated books at stalls this year, the Academic and Creative Publishers’ Association of Bangladesh (ACPAB) and a six-member task force of the Bangla Academy, formed to oversee rule violation and entering of pirated books at the fair, ran drives at several stalls and found the allegations to be true.
Anyaprokash Chief Executive Mazharul Islam, also president of Academic and Creative Publishers’ Association of Bangladesh (ACPAB), said the scenario the association observed at certain stalls at the book fair was unexpected and threatening for the publishing industry.
A member of the task force, seeking anonymity, said after they found the allegations to be true, they warned the stalls that legal action would be taken against them but the stall owners are not paying any heed.
Nazrul Islam Bahar, another member of task force and also a publisher, said: “We have sent our findings to the Bangla Academy authority and they will decide the action against the publishing houses.”
Prof Shamsuzzaman Khan, director general of Bangla Academy, however, denied receiving any report on the matter and said: “The six-member task force is working on it and after getting the report Bangla Academy will take necessary action in this regard.”