For the love of reading

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Youths from different educational institutes also come in groups to exchange books as gifts, visit different stalls, and engage in lively conversations with writers and publishers on diverse issues regarding contemporary literature

The Amar Ekushey Book Fair remains an ideal meeting place for book lovers, publishers, writers, and enthusiasts as evidenced by their continuing to visit the premises every day.

However, visitors do not always go to the fair with the intention of buying books. Many of them, especially the young, visit the fair to meet friends and socialise.

On a visit on Tuesday, this correspondent found small groups conversing and taking pictures together as they consider the book fair as a place for hanging out too.

Youths from different educational institutes also come in groups to exchange books as gifts, visit different stalls, and engage in lively conversations with writers and publishers on diverse issues regarding contemporary literature.

Sakibul Hassan, a second year student at Jagannath University, came to the fair alone but he was taking pictures of various books from different stalls. 

Sakibul will send the pictures of the book covers to his bookworm father, who lives in the village. His father usually instructs him on which books to buy after seeing the covers.

When asked whether it was his first day at the book fair, he said he visited the fair at least thrice every year and this was his second visit this year.

“I am not a book lover but I love to give books as gifts to my relatives, friends, teachers, and dear ones,” he said.

Publishers and staff working at different book stalls said sales remained slow during the first week of the fair, but the number of visitors remained high as the second week began.

This reporter found young people coming in groups. Couples were seen visiting the fair attired in colourful clothes. Girls adorned themselves with jewelry made of flowers. Not all of them were buying books; some were visiting the fair only to hang out with their dear ones and enjoy the festive mood.

However, sales were better on average last Friday. 

Even if the premises of the fair are jampacked now, real buyers will visit the place after February 14, in the latter half of the fair, said Mizanur Rahman, salesman of Batighar Prokashoni.

Johura Begum, publisher of Adorn Publications, said, “Dhaka International Trade Fair was extended and SSC examinations started at the outset of the book fair. This is one of the causes of low sales.”

“We did not even manage to sell nine books today,” said Johura.

The number of new books published by different publishers at this year’s book fair ranged from at least 10 to over 100. In addition to popular writers, they are also publishing many books by new writers.

One of the main or traditional attractions of the book fair is the regular presence of writers, which has not properly started yet.

Jannatul Mawa Iffat, a ninth grader, came to the fair with her friends.

“Muhammed Zafar Iqbal is our favorite author. We buy his books every year and get them signed by him. Our target this year is to buy his new book ‘Amar Saintis Mama’ (My Scientist Uncle) but I found that he had not come to the book fair yet,” said Iffat.

“We are hoping we can buy the book and get it signed when we visit again next week,” she added.