'I have probably had 95% less visitors than at the previous fair'
Publishers are not the only ones suffering due to the poor turnout of visitors at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair this year, as the fair is also a major business opportunity for sketch artists.
Every year, sketch artists gather at the fair to sell portraits to the numerous visitors while they peruse the books on offer. A rising number of Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh and related restrictions have resulted in very little business for the artists this time around.
Portrait artist Tarun Sarkar said he has had almost zero income from the fair this year.
“I have probably had 95% less visitors than at the previous fair. We knew we would get less business, but we never imagined that it would be this bad. I have been drawing at the book fair for the past 15 years, and I have never seen such a low number of visitors,” he said, visibly frustrated.
Md Ratan Mridha, another artist, said: “Bangla Academy gives us places for free of cost, but the reduced visiting hours due to the pandemic means we are not getting many visitors and facing big losses.
"Normally I would draw at least ten pictures in a day, but this time I can't even cross two a day," he added.
At least 20 artists work at the fair in normal years, but only six have attended this time.