- Publishers missed two book fairs
- In nearly two years, most owners lost their capital, in need of new funds
- Prices of printing essentials skyrocketed compared to the pre-pandemic time
- Paper from Tk35000 to Tk52000 per tonne
- Plate fromTk140 to Tk260
- Binding Glue Tk250-450 per kg
- 26,000 publishers under Bangladesh Pustak Prokashak and Bikreta Samity counting Tk2.60 crore losses per day
The publishing industry, in particular the publishing houses, is yet to recover from the pandemic-induced impacts, while most industries have already started to bounce back.
Owing to the Covid-19 Covid-19 pandemic, which hit the country back in 2020 March, publishers have missed two book fairs when the industry makes a major chunk of their yearly profit.
According to industry insiders, most owners of publication houses have been suffering from fund shortages at the moment and are unable to begin publishing for the year 2022. On top of it, they are fearing that the educational institutions may not reopen fully if the latest Covid-19 variant Omicron spreads further.
It will further hurt this year's business prospects and lessen the chances of turning the business around, they said.
"Owners of publishing houses have lost their capital and most of them cannot print new books for the year," Shyamol Pal, vice-president of Bangladesh Pustak Prokashak and Bikreta Samity, told The Business Standard.
"Yes, to stay in business we must print new books. But the reality is, we are not in a position where we can take on new challenges. To begin printing, publishers must resort to taking loans," he further said.
He also pointed out that, they not only need funds to resume business, they need double the funds compared to pre-pandemic time as prices of printing essentials and labour costs have also gone up.
Before the pandemic, the price of paper per tonne was Tk35000 which has increased to Tk52000. Cost per plate increased from Tk 140 to Tk260 and binding glue per Kg from Tk250 to Tk450.
According to the Bangladesh Pustak Prokashak and Bikreta Samity, it has around 26,000 members, of which 3000 are based in Dhaka and more than 1.5 lakh staff. All the members are counting a combined loss of Tk2.60 crores per day.
So far, the Printing Industries Association of Bangladesh (Piab) incurred a loss of Tk8,000 crores, The Bangladesh Pustak Prokashak and Bikreta Samity lost about Tk7,500-Tk8,000 crores and Bangladesh Gyan O Srijonshil Prokashak Samity suffered a loss of more than Tk200 crore.
Mahtab Uddin of Anik Prokashani told The Business Standard that he has lost his capital and will now try to avail a loan from any financial institution to resume printing new books.
"The educational institutions are not fully open yet and no one knows when they will," he said, adding, "We cannot afford to incur any more loss".
According to Piab, the printing of books and other materials are usually completed by January each year. But so far this year, only some 30% printing has been done.
Shahid Serniabat, president of Piab, told The Business Standard that some printers are now busy with the printing of government primary and secondary books.
"But a good number of printers are passing their times idle as private publishers are yet to fully start their printing," he said.
Monirul Haque, owner of Ananya Prakashani and executive director of Bangladesh Gyan O Srijonshil Prokashak Samity, told The Business Standard that the creative publishers have missed two book fairs and counted huge losses.
"We are counting on the upcoming Amar Ekushey Book Fair. If for some reason the fair is not held, we will be out of business," he added.
Shyamol Pal said that their association sought Tk100 crore from the government at the beginning of the crisis as assistance, but to no avail.
"We want the government to buy our books for educational institutions and offices. It will be a great help for the survival of the industry. The Primary and Mass Education Ministry can play an important role in this regard," he urged.