The month long Amar Ekushey Boi Mela or book has been attracting hundreds of enthusiastic readers, writers, publishers and cultural personalities.
It’s not only a book fair, but a place of cultural congregation for writers, readers, publishers and artistes. People, particularly youths from different neighborhoods and educational institutions come in groups to exchange books as gifts, visit various stalls and join conversations on different issues on contemporary literature.
Visitors say though sometimes their goal is not to buy books, they learn much from the atmosphere and the various cultural and literary events going on at the fair. Meeting favorite writers is also a key attraction for many.
During a visit to the fair on Sunday, it was found that most of the visitrs comprise young students, coming in groups. Not all of them were buying books. Some were visiting the fair wearing colored sarees and panjabis printed with Bangla text.
Aysha Nowmi came to the book fair with her friends - all second-year students of Dhaka University. A smiling Nowmi said, “I regularly come here to spend time with friends. Even if I cannot buy books regularly, I will visit every day for sure as it is inside my campus.”
“We can get books, we can hang out and chat and we can learn about contemporary literature, making this a favourite place for us,” she added. According to publishers and staff working at different book stalls, sales are increasing as the fair hits eight consecutive day and the volume of booklovers remained quite high.
Many visitors do not buy books, but they hang out in groups, eat at the food stalls and take selfies with each other considering the fair venue as a place for rendezvous. Shafique Milu came to the book fair to buy a romantic novel book for his near and dear ones.
“Since the first few days are not that crowded, I came here without any hassle and I found my favorite books. I usually present at least a book to my loved ones every year from the book fair,” he said. This year Bangla Academy has set the theme of the fair as “Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu” dedicated to the iconic leader, marking his birth centenary.
The authorities have allotted 179 units at the Bangla Academy ground to 126 organizations and 694 at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 434 organizations and a total of 34 pavilions have been allocated this year. The stalls for the mainstream publishing houses have been placed inside Suhrawardy Udyan while government organisations and the Bangla Academy set up their stalls inside Bangla Academy compound.