Ekushey Book Fair: 4,919 new books, none published from DU

The month-long Amar Ekushey Granthamela, which ended on Saturday, witnessed the highest number of newly published books. However, no new title was released by Dhaka University (DU) publication, bringing into question why the university is lagging in the publishing scene.    

The university's stall, which covered a gigantic area on Bangla Academy premises, only displayed old reprinted books, dissatisfying booklovers, this correspondent observed. 

Academics said many writers belonging to the university bring their books out through commercial publication houses, as most do not get quick response from DU publication's authorities, due to its lengthy procedures for releasing new books.  

Different publication houses, government service providers and autonomous bodies published a total of 4,919 new books this year, according to the information centre of Bangla Academy.

DU publication's dismal condition is nothing new, as the university had published only three books last year, two in 2018, one in 2017, four in 2016, and none in 2015 and 2014, according to the catalogue of DU Publications Bureau.

"This sad situation indicates the waning impact of the university that was once the hub for many renowned writers and researchers in the country," said noted educationist Syed Anwar Hussain.

According to the bureau, the university has published only 180 books in the 99 years since its establishment in 1921.

The first published book was "The Construction of Reading Material for Teachers of Foreign Language" by Michel West in 1926, said DU publication stall attendants.

When asked, they failed to provide any updated catalogue, as it was last updated in June 2019.

"DU updates it [the catalogue] in June every year, but we generally make a temporary list of new titles for the fair. We didn't make any list this year as no book was published," said MD Shaheed, one of the stall attendants.

The publication has, however, brought new editions of some previously published books this year.

This correspondent found university teachers and students, and researchers browsing books at the stall, but most went away without buying anything, after finding no new book.   

"DU's ranking among universities around the world is going down every year. This is mainly due to inadequate academic and research initiatives. I think the university should take care of these aspects, if DU wants to restore its glory," said Sadik Galib, a final-year student of DU history department. 

When asked, Prof Syed Anwar Hussain of DU history department said vice chancellors in the last few years did not take proper initiatives to enrich university publications.

He claimed the university publication has a lengthy procedure for publishing new titles, and that is the reason why many writers lose interest to have their works published through it.

"If the university introduces standard facilities in this regard, they could draw attention of university teachers," said Prof Anwar.

When inquired, Voboranjan Chakraborty, deputy director of DU Publications Bureau, also admitted the problem.

"Firstly, our committee receives the manuscript of a book and then the manuscript is reviewed by two senior experts. Apart from other formalities, the process takes time," he said.

Voboranjan said a huge number of books written by DU teachers and academic writers are being published every year through commercial publication houses due to the issue. 

"We will soon take an initiative to eliminate such crises after discussing the problem with higher authorities" he added.    He stressed on formulating a proper guideline to draw in more writers.


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