The country's writers and publishers are taking this year's book fair as a big challenge.
Publishers are worried that they might incur losses as the book fair, usually held in February every year, has been shifted to March-April due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At a meeting on Thursday, Bangla Academy decided to hold the book fair from 18 March to 14 April, said Bangla Academy Director and Book Fair Organising Committee's Member Secretary Jalal Ahmed.
The country's publishers had demanded that the fair start on 18 February. But as the fair will start a month later, publishers are worried about whether the fair will be profitable like other times.
President of Bangladesh Gyan O Srijonshil Prokashak Samiti Farid Ahmed told The Business Standard, "There is no doubt that this year's book fair will be a challenging one compared to other years. There is no precedent for holding the fair at this time."
Hoping that Bangla Academy will stand by the publishers considering all the issues, he said, "The field has to be prepared keeping in mind that nor'westers and torrential rains might occur any time. Eighty percent of the publishing houses that participated last time can attend the fair this year."
Bangla Academy Secretary AHM Lokman said, "People have not been able to come out of their houses for a long time due to the ongoing pandemic. Through organising the book fair that regret is hopefully going to go away. Now we all have to work together to make it a success."
"Publishers are used to taking part in the fair. As a result of organising the fair a month later, extra attention will have to be paid this time. Bangla Academy is preparing for the fair keeping in mind the issues of nor'westers and rains," he added.
Manirul Islam, owner of Ananya Prakash, said, "Surely, this year's fair is going to be a big challenge for publishers. Making the fair a success will be our main goal. We are working accordingly. We must follow a specific plan to make the fair successful.
Novelist and essayist Syed Manjurul Islam said this time the public gathering will be reduced a little. In lieu of tidy stalls like other times, tin stalls can be set up this year to protect books from nor'westers.
The eminent writer said Bangla Academy will have to allocate rooms for storing the books during an emergency. Everyone should be informed about the preparation of the fair from time to time, so that people become interested in the fair.
Sayem Chowdhury serves at a private company in Dhaka. For the last twenty years, he has been going to Ekushey Book Fair regularly.
He told The Business Standard, "The book fair brings about a different feeling. Many will go to the fair to buy books despite the ongoing pandemic. But this time it does not seem it will be the same as the other times."
On 15 December last year, the publishers demanded that the book fair be organised in person like other years, not virtually. Two organisations of publishers, Bangladesh Book Publishers and Sellers Association and Bangladesh Gyan O Srijonshil Prokashak Samity, submitted a written proposal to Bangla Academy for organising the fair from 16 February to 16 March.
Later, a meeting was held on 17 January, chaired by State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid to fix the date of the book fair. It was decided at the meeting that the Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2021 would be held virtually.