Publishers and booksellers are waiting for the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela to gain momentum as it lost crowds after the weekend due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both parts of the fair – at Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan – were apparently crowded on Saturday afternoon, although the flock of book lovers was smaller in the morning.
The fair authorities were reassured as book loving city dwellers thronged to the fair despite fears of the pandemic.
However, even though people entered the fair following the hygiene rules, many of them were seen roaming around without masks.
Witnessing people's movement at the book fair, it seems that their main purpose is to spend time there on holiday afternoons.
The fair, which is usually held in February, started on 18 March for the first time, and will continue till 14 April.
Stall decoration work ongoing
Books have been displayed in most of the stalls but some stalls have not yet been constructed and decorated.
During a visit to the fair, this correspondent saw that Annesha, Nalanda, Ananya Prakash, Journeyman Books, Tamralipi, Panjeri, Pearl Publications, and other big publications have not been able to complete their pavilions yet.
When asked, Puthiniloy's owner told The Business Standard (TBS) that there was a lot of confusion about the fair due to Covid-19 outbreak. It will take a day or two to complete it.
Farid Ahmed, publisher of Samoy Prakashani and also president of Bangladesh Knowledge and Creative Publishers Association, told TBS that publishers were worried about the fair. After last year's fair, the publishers did not do business for the entire year.
However, the publishers are growing hopeful in the way the book-lovers came to the fair despite fear of Covid-19 from the very beginning of the fair.
Last year the fair was arranged on 7.5 lakh square feet area and this time it is arranged on 15 lakh square feet area. However, the number of stalls has been kept almost the same in order to maintain social distancing at the fair.
No 'Shishu Prohor'
Due to the pandemic, there is no 'Shishu Prohor' on the weekly holidays this time. As a result, children were deprived of the joy of playing with Halum, Tuktuki-Ikri.
Rahnuma Khan, a third-grade student who came to the book fair with her parents, told TBS that she was upset that there was no 'Shishu Prohor.'
The popular children's program Halum, Tuktuki and Ikri from Sisimpur, which was set up last year at the Battala of Suhrawardy Udyan at the book fair, was not arranged this year.
Director of Bangla Academy and member secretary of the fair committee Dr Jalal Ahmed told TBS, "Because of Covid-19, we decided to stop 'Shishu Prohor.' We will consider 'Shishu Prohor' if the situation improves."
Meanwhile, even though there is no 'Shishu Prohor,' the publishers see a lot of interest among children about buying books at the fair.
A total of 834 units have been allotted to 540 institutions. There are 33 pavilions in the fair. At least 107 institutions have been given permission to install 154 units in the academy premises and 433 institutions got permission to install 680 units in the Suhrawardy Udyan.
This time the LittleMag premises have been shifted to Suhrawardy Udyan. A total 140 stalls, including five open stalls and 135 LittleMags stalls, have been allotted there.
The Bangla Academy and other institutions participating in the fair will sell books at 25% commission.
Hawkers' business booming
Although the business was not good on the first day, it saw rise on the second and third day of the fair. The hawkers have sat at the TSC Gate and Doel Chattar, the entry points of the fair, with various products.
Ice cream seller Rais Uddan told TBS, "I have been sitting at the TSC gate regularly since the fair started. Sales are going quite well. Profits are also increasing."