Ekushey Boi Mela plans for 2022
After the low turnout at Amar Ekushey Boi Mela this year, the Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh hosted a discussion seminar on November 16, with notable authors, publishers, and media personalities as special guests, in order to ensure a smooth experience for all attendees in the coming year.
AKM Tariqul Islam, Director of the Fair, Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh, shared his concerns over the financial crisis faced by publishers. The forum proposed that the fair start from February 1, continuing for the entire month from 3 pm to 9 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 9 pm on weekends. Islam also requested the organisers to reevaluate their stall rents keeping in consideration the financial drawbacks of the previous fair. He added that the organisers could reach out to the government for financial support, approach various private companies, or incorporate CSR sponsors.
Members of the association had also asked for separate stall allocations within the main premises of the fair and proposed that the stalls should be distributed by lottery. They suggested that the Bangla Academy premises be used for stage-centric events while the main book fair be conducted at Suhrawardy Udyan.
"The history of Boi Mela stems back to the history of Bangla Academy and we firmly believe that collaborative efforts could lead to better results in the future", he stated.
Publishers also expressed their concerns about the distribution of stalls and ensuring fair participation and facilities. They emphasised on Shishu Chottor and explained why the corner continues to be one of the main attractions of the fair. They suggested that the stalls be arranged in a square format, with them facing inwards, which would ensure that each publisher gets equal exposure.
Some publishers also urged organisers to keep a check on the content and quality of publications. They further emphasised the necessity of proper logistic support. "The 25% discount offer should be reviewed by organisers and the commission should be decided by the stall owners", added Nishat Jahan Rana, from Jukto Prokashona.
Jashim Uddin from Kotha Prokash voiced his opinion about the duration of the fair being too short for readers. "Boi Mela should be open for the entire day, so all types of readers can visit the fair", he said. His other concerns included boosting the accessibility of the fair, and making books available to peripheral regions.
Muhammed Zafar Iqbal shed light on how a book is personal to a reader and allows them to perceive it in their own way. "In order to [build] a strong Bangladesh, we need to promote reading habits and all schools must contain libraries," Iqbal asserted. Additionally, Ramendu Majumdar expressed his thoughts about shifting the organising responsibilities to book publishers, so they could design the fair in their own way, while prioritising quality over quantity.
Organisers also discussed the possibility of setting up permanent stalls in order to reduce costs. Muhammad Nurul Huda promised to look into the concerns raised and urged publishers to remain professional in terms of their content. "We must aim to promote quality content while extending financial support", he stated in his concluding remarks.
This year's Boi Mela made history, taking place over the months of March to April instead of February, the month of the Bangla Language Movement. The organisers had taken the decision due to the dire conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Book-sellers incurred insurmountable losses due to the lack of attendees.
Maisha Islam Monamee is a medical student who likes reading, scribbling, and blogging. Follow @monameereads on Instagram.