The month-long 2019 Amar Ekushey Boi Mela ended in the capital yesterday having seen a record number of new books and a huge public gathering.
Putting the count of records aside, the book writers, publishers, readers and literature enthusiasts said goodbye to the country's largest book fair.
“I cannot believe that it [the book fair] is over. I wish it lasted a little longer,” said Mithila Nahrin, a Dhaka University student who went to the book fair with her friends.
People of different professions and ages echoed her words about the loving literary congregation and said they thoroughly enjoyed visiting the book fair with friends and families.
“It was really difficult for me and my job-holder wife to spend time with out daughter. As the book fair was extended this year, we could manage to bring her here,” said Md Azad, holding a finger of his fifth-grader daughter Sraboni.
Considering low visitors' turnout in the last few days of February, Bangla Academy authorities decided to extend the fair for two days on February 28, making it March 2.
The fair's theme this year was “Bijoy: 1952 to 1971, Noboporjay”.
Relevant to the theme, this year's fair premises -- Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan grounds -- was decorated with placards remembering the language movement martyrs.
Besides, Lekhok Bolchhi, a corner for writers, was introduced in the fair this year where the writers could talk about their books for 20 minutes each.
Five writers were scheduled to speak on the Lekhok Bolchhi corner each day.
A total of 499 publishers participated in the fair this year. The authorities allotted 104 stalls on the academy premises and 395 stalls on the Suhrawardy Udyan premises. In 2018, 2017 and 2016, the numbers of publishers participated in the fairs were 460, 401 and 353 respectively, said Bangla Academy sources.
The number of new books has doubled and total sales increased seven times in last seven years.
Novels and poetries were most popular choices among the youth in this year's book fair, said the publishers.