Never before in the history of the Ekushey Gronthomela have the increased prices of books been an issue like this year. Normally people come to the fair, leaf through books, mainly in Bangla, and buy the chosen ones. Few have the time to query about the books' prices, if there was an increase. This year publishers are feared to raise the books' prices thanks to the post-covid-19 global crisis triggering hike in the prices of paper. As has been seen in the publication industry, the price of paper is normally followed by the hike in the prices of printing ink and the overall printing charges. At the same time, paper price rise sees book binding and other related costs go up. Taking in view all these upticks, the rise in the books' prices is implied. The roots of all these hikes lie in the ongoing global crisis. Bangladesh hasn't been spared the crisis fallout.
Whereas the books of assorted character traditionally sell at the Bangla Academy Book Fair at reduced prices, this year will be different. Many would like to see it as one of the smaller fallout of the corona crisis. But for the limited-income book lovers, it means a lot. The young and elderly people who will visit the fair this year are the same old crowd who go to the fair almost every year. Due to the books being costlier this year lots of passionate readers are feared to be deprived of the taste of the year's newly published books. Many of these people will make do with the books' previous editions. This year might be a completely different one. Like all other goods, the prices of books around the world continue to rise every year. But the post-corona price rise of the books seems astronomical. About a month back, a few noted publishers of the country said they would be hit hard by the paper price hike in the market. In order to cope with the adverse situation, they would be compelled to fix the book prices three times higher than the existing ones. Moreover, they said they would publish a reduced number of titles. It means the previous years' book varieties might be absent this year.
But it's also true that book price hikes may not discourage the avowed readers from visiting the Gronthomela (book fair). As is natural, the pragmatic buyers will cut down on the number of purchases this year. They know that at times buying two good books instead of 3 or 4 average ones is a good decision. In order to save money, many book lovers might adopt this style.
The Ekushey Book Fair in its early days used to witness sale of books in great numbers. Publishers would bring new editions of books. The trend began in the 1980s. With the publication of their maiden books, many young writers entered the literary scene. The Bangla Academy eventually became the launching pad for many young poets, short story writers and novelists. Maybe, they couldn't continue to retain their creative passion thanks to the absence of a favourable atmosphere. But many were able to go on using their creative flair to their future growth. The book fair has, thus, long been distinguished by the presence of books by the potential young writers. This year, the young writers may not have a welcome mat rolled out before them due to the adverse situation in the publication sector. Yet there are a few venturesome publishers who are fond of taking risks. Money doesn't matter to them. Like in the previous years, they would be seen introducing a new poet or a new novelist to the readers. They are an exception. But the general publication scenario may find itself covered in a veiled gloom. Many would squarely blame the rise in the cost of books for it.