July 25, 2021


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Why this book fair?

In general, the primary purpose of a book fair is to create opportunities for book buyers or readers to interact with book-related professionals. Considering this, the people in this meeting place are publishers, authorship representatives, sales representatives, book suppliers, retailers and book lovers. The book fair is a single event for all of them. And in the second stage, those who are associated with it are the writers themselves and the media staff. The original and genuine purpose behind the book fair is the immediate or long term or direct or indirect marketing of the book.

No matter how much we talk about the tradition or spirit of a fair, no publisher will spend a lot of money on a book fair. Book publishing, industry or business is not a charitable activity. Accepting this fact, we have to analyze the emotions, inconsistencies, gossip and nonsense around the book fair.

In addition to the above purpose, a modern book fair meets some more demands. That is, the exchange of rights or the sale of contracts around the book industry is often a match. At the same time, after commercial and professional demands, book fair is a fair or festival of unique education and culture of a nation or people. With this in mind, various innovative programs are organized in the book fair. Numerous activities including seminars, discussions, dialogues, debates and presentation of new books or topics, exchange of views with authors, music, dance, documentaries, theater in small bodies. Together, the book fair is a public or holistic festival of a community. That is why the world’s most important book fairs are organized with public-private partnership. Where any leading organization or company and publisher association free from bureaucratic procrastination plays a leading role in the main organization or infrastructure. The commercial aspect of the fair is also under their jurisdiction. Government authorities provide grants, incentives or advice when needed. In contrast, the program of education and culture, there are different institutions, universities, writers’ organizations, academies, the media at different levels from their respective roles. One thing is clear. The book fair has two aspects, one commercial and the other educational and cultural.

Now we want to look back at our immortal Ekushey Book Fair.

At a time when we are celebrating the birth centenary of Bangabandhu and the golden jubilee of independence, our immortal Ekushey Book Fair has been going on for more than four decades. As it is a book fair on the significance of the language movement, it is held every year in the language month. This year is an exception due to the epidemic. Combined with the spirit of Ekushey, it is called Amar Ekushey Book Fair. Although Ekushey February has been our day of mourning for a long time, it is not our only day now. International Mother Language Day since 1999 due to UN recognition. How international is our immortal Ekushey Book Fair even if it has the same premise? This question can be raised loudly.

I will discuss the question in the next stage of writing. Before that, let’s take a look at the progress of our respective infrastructure around books or book fairs in the last forty years. Bookstores have not grown in proportion to the population in the last four decades. The field is reduced. On the other hand, the scope of the book fair has increased. However, people’s reading habits have not increased. Publishers and publishing companies have grown. The author has grown. The number of published books has increased. But the Bengali language did not improve. On the contrary, oppression and persecution have been acknowledged at the Bengali level. The languages ​​of 41 other ethnic groups in the country are on the verge of extinction. The number of libraries in the country has decreased. The tendency or affordability to buy books has decreased in proportion to the population. Although there is no significant research or data in this regard, it seems from observations and media reports. Although the number of books has increased, has the quality of books or classical literature increased? It can be said that the publishers are happy with Bikribatta during the month of Amar Ekushey Book Fair. So throughout the year publishers prepare for the fair. However, this trade is almost entirely indigenous. Couldn’t even get close to the edge of international trade. I will talk about this a couple more later.

This time I would like to say a couple of things about the second major aspect of the book fair, education and cultural programs. This task should not be left to any single authority or institution. This work will be done by sharing the relevant responsibilities among all concerned. It should not be under the jurisdiction of Bangla Academy alone. To put it bluntly, for the last two decades, events have not come out of the deadlock; For example, a scheduled topic every day, an essay, two or three speakers and a president, an open-air seminar, whether or not there is an audience under the canopy. Then the cultural program. Then unwrapping the new book in a hurry. Recently, another new program ‘Lekhak Balchi’ has been added.

Pretty! This time I will say something from my observation. From bureaucrats to ministers, many officials associated with the book fair have visited the important book fairs of the world with the money of the people of the country and have also published those pictures on Facebook-media. But has he done a bit of development or reform for the betterment of our book fair?

I would like to give a little idea about the educational and cultural activities of the book fair. At the world’s largest book fairs, large publishing houses arrange discussions and dialogues with their authors from their own platforms. Similarly, the big media has built its own platform

Holds dialogues and interviews with publishers, researchers and relevant experts and professionals. These programs are simultaneously published and promoted in their respective media. There may be regional pavilions or squares in the book fair, such as Chittagong Square, Rajshahi Square, Dhaka Square, Khulna Square.

Language squares can be used for various language-based debates, exhibitions and events. Similarly it can be poetry stage, translation stage, story stage or drama stage. And we have a children’s playground, but it is limited to allocating publications for children and teenagers in one place. The responsibility of the children’s courtyard can be given to the children’s academy, where there will also be a stage for children. There, children and teenagers will take part in dialogues and discussions with those who write for children. There, a child would beat a writer and an artist by throwing childish questions – why did you add more yellow to the picture? Or say, you didn’t enjoy this story. The previous book was good. Have you started cheating?

There will be various discussions around books at the book fair. There will be a separate platform for the management of libraries and librarians. There will be debates on museums, religion, philosophy and history. There will be political debate and dialogue within the framework of education and culture and of course outside the party structure. In this context, I would like to warn about one thing. There may be stalls of any organization or organization in favor of liberation war and consciousness. So why allocate stalls in the name of political party affiliates? It has to be stopped. If a political party has a research institute, it can apply for allotment of stalls in accordance with the rules of the book fair. So to say absolutely party affiliation? This eye-catching practice must stop.

Now I would like to say a few words in the context of internationalism. In Scotland, a reception was given to the poet Jasim Uddin. There, he says, in the context of a writer’s attention to the people of another country or the reader’s internationalism, “The more water that fills a pitcher, the more the writing can attract the attention of the people of another country.”

And we Bengalis are so destitute of internationalism that they somehow publish books in English, even write directly in English and run beggars to become international. However, there is good reason for the Bengalis to be more interested in the language-speaking people around Bengal than in English; Such as Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Ahmiya, Cockburn, Chinese, Japanese, Burmese, Nepali, Korean and other western languages.

By the way, two years ago I had the opportunity to go to Burma at the invitation of the Rangoon Center of Penn, an international organization of writers. During the exchange of views with the writers at that time, the topic of literary work of Bengali writers about Burma or Rangoon came up. Following this, they were moving ahead with an initiative to translate the writings of Bengali writers into Burmese. However, in the end, the military junta did everything in a goblet. There is a hint of such interest in various parts of India, as well as in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. With these considerations, this book fair can take the form of a unique international book fair.

We can only add the international part as an additional beauty or organ, leaving the current significance of the book fair intact. And this responsibility can be given to the Export Development Bureau and the National Library.

Bangla Academy has to come out of the trend of organizing an event like book fair or event management. No other country in the world is so preoccupied with such an irrelevant academy. Find out, French Academy, Literary Academy of Delhi, Academy of Denmark or Swedish Academy. The organization of the book fair can be left to the Publishers’ Association and the National Library to form an independent committee or company. It is possible to develop and institutionalize many things.

During the book fair, the government can be reminded of one thing, the election manifesto of the Awami League has spoken about the construction of five hundred youth complexes at the upazila level across the country. Under which the construction of a self-contained modern library is also mentioned.

The term of the government is almost half gone. Is there any news about the youth complex? If there is no library, if there is no increase, one month of the year will be spent as a show for language literature and a lot of nonsense. Therefore, in addition to the youth complex, a small one-room school in each primary school and a library suitable for the people of the area can be considered. At the same time, post offices across the country can be reformed into digital bookshops, post offices and information centers. This can be a great work on the birth centenary of Bangabandhu and the golden jubilee of independence. There is no need to build additional infrastructure for this. All that is needed is policy making and planning. In all these cases, as the sales of books increase, so will the reading habits.

Readers, publishers and organizers want to look at the authors around the book fair. After independence, Bangabandhu set up a fund for writers. Its name was ‘Bangabandhu Writers Trust’. After 1975, like many other things, this trust also disappeared. Now is the time to revive the trust. The trust can be run in the form of independent writers’ funds in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. At the same time I would like to warn you about one thing. In recent times, the violence of bureaucratic contractors has increased. There is nothing wrong with being a bureaucrat contractor, they are Lee

You can eat. There are many examples of bureaucratic classical writers in different countries. We can name our Abu Ishaq, Abdush Shakur, Abul Kalam Mohammad Zakaria and Abul Hossain from Pablo Neruda, George Orwell. There may be an investigative study on the example of bureaucrats taking unwanted opportunities in national institutions in our art literature. I would like to give a small example – once you look at the list of books published by Bangladesh Shishu Academy, you will understand how many bureaucrats’ books are in that list, how they are. The same miracle works in the bookstores of different government authorities. That’s why bureaucrats are very interested in publishing books. This leaves the fear of long-term dark shadows in writing. In the same way, due to proper debate, discussion and amateur media, many immature, immature, immature and inexperienced writers want to occupy the top position of popularity by various tricks, sometimes they do. This is also a strange problem for literary culture. There is an opportunity to play the role of book fair to get out of this trouble. Now is the time for us to think about these questions on the occasion of the book fair.

Before concluding this article, I would like to mention one incident. The Department of Informatics and Library Management of Dhaka University organized an international symposium on libraries in February last year. On the eve of the symposium, I was invited to give a talk entitled ‘Libraries and Writers’. The seminar was also attended by a number of invited professors, researchers, librarians and students from Malaysia. Among them, a professor of library science said that immigrants from other countries living in Malaysia expressed their demand for books in their own language in libraries. The only exception is the Bengali immigrants living in that country. They don’t go to the library very much, they don’t give any demand for books. What is the reason for this?

Such questions are not unique to Malaysia. In other countries too, the image of Bengalis is very close with few exceptions. There is no good reason to ignore these questions. The book fair is a great opportunity to discuss all the positive and upsetting questions surrounding books and reading books. Since everyone from rural to urban areas is in the grip of an epidemic, we can leverage online hybrid platforms using digital technology to engage people from all over the world. Can’t i