“Book preservation in Bangladesh is particularly rich because we have two languages and our own publishing world. A real bookstore wants to cover everyone,” said Amina Rahman, managing director of Bookworm Bangladesh, during a discussion session hosted by Daily Star Books at the Gulshan. Society book fair 2.
Held on March 4-5 at Gulshan Lake Park in its second edition since 2019, the fair featured booths from several bookstores and publishers including Bookworm Bangladesh, Bengal Boi, University Press Limited, Baatighar, ULAB Press, Bishwa Shahittya Kendro, etc. .
Hosted by Sarah Anjum Bari, Editor-in-Chief of Daily Star Books, the DS Books session brought bookstores Bengal Boi and Bookworm Bangladesh into conversation on Friday, March 4, under a sprawling banyan tree adorned with brightly colored Bengali alphabets. The session, streamed live on the Daily Star Books Facebook page, sparked conversations about the role bookstores play in society, how that has changed from a time when almost every household in Bangladesh had a bookshelf, and what it takes to run a bookstore here. these days.
“Readers – and most of them are Bangladeshis – want to know more about this country,” said Luva Nahid Chowdhury, chief executive of the Bengal Foundation, during the session. “Story telling and listening to stories has disappeared as a culture. There is no one to tell us stories these days and often we are not able to create them ourselves. a very important role,” she said.
In addition to highlighting the contribution of events like Ekushey Boi Mela and Dhaka Lit Fest to exposing local bookstores to the world, Amina Rahman also spoke about the threats posed by photocopied books at a time when printing has become so much easier than ‘previously. These “local copies” are less expensive, Rahman agrees, but they lack the opportunity for personal interaction with authors and artists that book launches and official events provide.
In response, Luva Nahid Chowdhury suggested a freer donation or exchange of personal collections of old books, shared with bookstores, libraries and literary events, so that those who cannot afford to buy them can still go there. have access.
“The illustrations and covers of the books published here have always been beautiful, but little care has been taken in the layout – the spine of a book, the binding, the loose cover, etc.” she pointed out. “There is a joy to be found in owning physical copies of books now. However, how much thought goes into the content of these books is a matter of debate.”
The first day of the Gulshan Book Fair featured storytelling sessions by the HerStory Foundation, English and Creative Writing students from ULAB’s Department of English and Humanities, and Church bells and Darjeeling tea author Zeena Chowdhury, followed by live music.
The second day of the event saw readings by the authors of the anthology Gold: Bangladesh at 50 (UPL, 2021) and by HerStory Foundation, stand-up comedy by Naveed Mahbub, and a discussion session on Khaled Masood hosted by The commercial standard editor-in-chief Sharier Khan. Researcher and academic Sudeep Chakavarti, visiting professor at ULAB and author of Plassey: the battle that changed the course of Indian history (2020) and most recent The Eastern Gate: War and Peace in Nagaland, Manipur and the Indian Far East (2022), was in conversation with Dhaka Grandstand editor Zafar Sobhan.