AMAR EKUSHAY BOOK FAIR 2016 : Yet another empty threat to pirated book sellers

Mohiuddin Alamgir
Workers pass busy moments in taking preparation for the upcoming Ekushey Book Fair at Suhrawardy udyan in the capital on Thursday. — New Age photo

Workers pass busy moments in taking preparation for the upcoming Ekushey Book Fair at Suhrawardy udyan in the capital on Thursday. — New Age photo

The cultural affairs minister and book fair authorities on Thursday warned of stern measures against sellers of pirated books in the upcoming Amar Ekushey Book Fair, although such repeated warnings over the last three years did not bring about any result.
Several publishers and members of the book fair committee were skeptical about the eventual execution of punitive measures against errant stalls as no one was punished in the last three editions of the book fair for selling pirated books.
The Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2016 is set to begin on February 1 at the Bangla Academy premises and Suhrawardy Udyan, the extended venue, which is the biggest annual congregation of publishers, book sellers and book enthusiasts.
‘We will be more vigilant against pirated books in this year’s fair,’ cultural affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor said. ‘Those who sell pirated books will not get a stall at the book fair,’ he warned.
During the past year’s book fair New Age found that at least 50 stalls were selling pirated books and the copyright taskforce of the book fair identified 20 such stalls, while the fair authorities had issued warning to two stalls.
‘Most of the stalls that received a warning got allotment for stalls this year as well. I do not think these stall will pay heed to the warnings,’ said a fair committee member, who is also a publisher.
Another fair committee member said Bangla Academy actually did not have a list of stalls that sold pirated books in the book fair.
Publishers said that beside pirated books, many stalls also sell books that are published by others publishers, breaching the fair regulations that allows participating institutions to only sell books printed and published in Bangladesh and no publisher is allowed to sell books published by others.
Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh president Osman Gani, also Agamee Prakashani publisher, said some dishonest stall owners sell pirated books at the fair. Gani urged the fair authorities to take stern measures against those selling pirated books.
The book fair committee secretary Jalal Ahmed said last year they warned two stalls but he did not know what happened before that, responding to a query on how many stalls were warned for selling pirated books at the fair in the last three years.
‘A group of publishers talk about taking action against errant stalls while some publishers lobby for stalls to be alloted to sellers of pirated books,’ said Jalal, adding that they, however, are very strict this year and will not allow any pirated book in the book fair.
During a visit to the fair ground in the capital, Asaduzzaman Noor assured that foolproof security measures will be taken to thwart any subversive activity during the month-long Ekushey Book fair. He said a number of CCTV cameras will be set up at the fair ground.
Jalal said the fair authorities had set up 60 CCTV cameras inside and outside the book fair in 2015 and this year they would set up 250 CCTV cameras.
Fair authorities planned to set up CCTV cameras on the road stretch from Doyel Chhatar to the Fine Arts Faculty. Fair authorities will set up at least six watchtowers at the fair ground for security surveillance.

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