In the face of a strong protest by publishers, the Bangla Academy has backed off from its previous decision to hold the Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2021 virtually and agreed to organise it like previous years.
The academy on Sunday told publishers to submit a written application proposing a date for starting the fair.
Habibullah Siraji, director general of the Bangla Academy, told the media that he suggested publishers to make a plan considering the Covid-19 situation.
"We need at least two months to launch the fair," he said.
Sources at the publishers' organisation like Bangladesh Pustak Prokashok O Bikreta Samity and Bangladesh Gyan and Srijanshil Prokashok Samity said they have been planning to submit their proposal to the Bangla Academy by 20 December this year.
This means the fair may start on 20 February instead of 1 February next year.
Farid Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Gyan and Srijanshil Prokashok Samity, said, "We will make a plan centering the 21 February. We want to inaugurate the fair before that day. We will submit detailsto the academy in this regard soon."
Earlier on Thursday, the Bangla Academy decided to postpone the book fair to see if it can be arranged physically when the Covid-19 situation improves, and they planned to organise the fair virtuallyif the pandemic situation does not improve within the desired period.
They also decided to hold The Bangla Academy Prize ceremony, seminars, discussion, book launching ceremony and functions virtually.
As per the academy's board of directors' request to its Executive Director Professor Md Kaykobad, the academy sent their proposals in writing to the cultural ministry for getting approval, but publishers protested against it.
Monirul Haque, executive director of Bangladesh Gyan and Srijanshil Prokashok Samity, told The Business Standard that they want the fair to be held like it was held in previous years, becausethe publishers will lose at least Tk50 crore in total if the fair is not held physically.
In 2020, the land earmarked for the fair had been expanded to8 lakh square feet, where 873 units wereallocated to 560 organisations.
Of them, 179 units had been allocated at the Bangla Academy ground to 126 organisations, and 694 units at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 434 organisations. Moreover, 34 pavilions were allocated this year.
The Bangla Academy also made arrangements to display and sell books of small publishing companies and individuals at 25% commission in the stall of the National Book Centre.
The Amar Ekushey Book Fair began informally on the Bangla Academy premises in 1972. In 1978, the academy officially took the responsibility of organising the fair every year. It was named "Amar Ekushey Granthamela" in 1984 and a guideline was formulated in the same year.
In 2013, the fair venue was extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in a bid to accommodate more publishers and book lovers.