The Suhrawardy Udyan part of the month-long Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela is bustling with booklovers while the Bangla Academy ground is yet to wear a festive look due to low turnout.
The authorities have allotted stalls of 104 government and autonomous bodies on the academy premises and 395 commercial publishers at Suhrawardy Udyan, an extended part of the fair since 2013.
Besides books of some prominent writers, the publishers on the academy premises said they are going to publish a large number of books on research, essays and history.
Jahidul Islam, a stall attendant of Bangla Academy, said they have already published several books including “Saat Doshoker Hartal O Bangladesher Rajniti” (Strikes in seven decades and politics of Bangladesh) by journalist Ajoy Dasgupta and a biography on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by Mohsen Al Arishi.
“We are hoping to see a bigger crowd as the fair continues,” he added.
MD Elias, manager of the Nazrul Institute stall, urged the academy authorities to take initiatives in this regard.
“We depend on government subsidy and sell books on rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam at lower price than the commercial publication houses,” he added. “The academy should arrange special events to promote the stalls here.”
In the evening, Mehedi Ullah, a teacher of Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University's folklore department, was seen buying some books from the stall.
“I bought Nazrul's Sanchita (anthology of selected poems) for my friend,” he said. “This is a must-read poetry collection for students.”
Meanwhile, bookworms continued to throng the Suhrawardy Udyan venue on the fifth day of the fair yesterday.
But many were frustrated as the fair authorities were yet to assign number plates for majority of the stalls.
“I'm searching for 'Sahitya Prakash' for an hour but it is hard to find a particular stall without a number…,” said Forhad Hossain, a student of Dhaka University.
Asiful Huda of Monon Prakash said some publication houses have installed the number plates themselves to help visitors.
Acknowledging the issue, Jalal Ahmed, member secretary of the fair organising committee, said number plates will be installed tonight to ease the problem.
Despite the hindrance, a festive atmosphere prevailed at Suhrawardy Udyan as most prominent publication houses were swarmed by bookworms, looking for their favourites and new adventures.
Atikul, an attendant at Anya Prakash, said, “Humayun Ahmed still reigns supreme… We are selling over 100 of his books this year.”
Anisur Rahman, manager of Somoy Prokashoni, said “Dusto Meyer Dal” and “Ma” by Anisul Hoque were in high demand at the stall.
This correspondent met Jannatul Mawa, a regular visitor at the fair, browsing through titles and making a list of what to buy.
Asked if she had visited the Bangla Academy premises, the DU English department student smiled and said she did on the first day. “Most of us love to read fiction and poetry, that's why we visit the Suhrawardy Udyan venue,” she said. “But, I will also buy some books from the academy premises next week.”
Yesterday, a total of 152 books hit the stalls, of which 30 were of poetry.