Bangladeshi fair highlights love of books in digital era

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2016-02-24 07:40:44

With less than a week left until the end of Bangladesh's largest month-long annual book fair, thousands of people from all age groups are still flocking daily to the event. The overwhelming popularity of the fair suggests that people here still have a deep love for books-with paper, ink and covers-rather than their modern-day digital counterparts.

Many of those attending the fair say that they feel a profound sense of happiness and nostalgia as they smell a newly printed book. Some described it as the "best smell in the world".

The Amar Ekushey Boi Mela, which translates to Immortal 21st Book Fair, has been on since Feb 1 at Dhaka's Bangla Academy premises and its adjacent Suhrawardy Udyan (garden), in commemoration of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives to protect the dignity of their mother tongue on Feb 21, 1952.

Feb 21 is observed throughout the world as "International Mother Language Day".

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the month-long book fair, and this year a total of 651 stalls were allocated to 402 organizations.

Rezauddin Stalin, a poet and a television personality, says that digital books cannot match the appeal of printed books.

"I think there will always be a demand for printed books alongside e-books, even though everything seems to be becoming digitized these days. Footpaths have not disappeared with the advent of waterways and similarly waterways still exist despite highways and airports," the poet says.

"Books can be touched and read whilst lying on a bed. So I think books are an important medium to acquire knowledge. Books will continue to lead the way in establishing a true knowledge-based society," he adds.

Bangladesh's former president A.Q.M. Badruddoja Chowdhury was among the visitors to the fair in search of books written by their favorite authors.

Speaking about the importance of printed books he says: "We're living in a digital era. Everybody is keen to learn though digital mediums. Almost everything has been digitized. Despite that, thousands of people from both rural and urban areas are visiting the fair. Even small children are coming, elderly people, mothers and sisters are also visiting the fair."

The fair also welcomed a huge number of children who made the most of their time there.

"I have come from Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka and I have bought seven books," says youngster Mehedi Hasan Ayan.

Another youth, Suyartu Mim, says: "Actually it makes us very proud that our country can hold such a fantastic book fair. And I am very proud to be here."

Bangla Academy's deputy director Md Sahadat Hossain (Nipu) says: "Every year, about 5,000 books are published during the Bangla Academy book fair. Readers know this well. This year's fair will end soon, but about 3,000 to 4,000 books have already been published, and we hope by the end of the fair more than 5,000 books will be published."


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