The Amar Ekushey Book Fair's traditional dates got shifted for the past two editions due to Covid-19.
With virus-era norms like social distancing now discarded this year's fair is set to return to its usual start date of February 1, and barring some unforeseen pandemic-level event, last the entire month at Bangla Academy's sprawling premises, along with the adjacent Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital.
For the first time since 2020, the prime minister will inaugurate the fair in person. She will also distribute the Bangla Academy Literary Award 2022 among the recipients at the inaugural ceremony and unveil seven new books.
The ceremony will be chaired by Bangla Academy President novelist Selina Hossain. State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, Cultural Affairs Secretary Md Abul Monsur and Bangla Academy Director General poet Nurul Huda will also be present.
Nine hundred and one units have been allocated to 601 organisations for this year's book fair, compared to 776 units to 534 organisations last year.
One hundred and sixty-five units have been allocated to 112 organisations on the Bangla Academy premises and 736 units to 489 organisations at Suhrawardy Udyan.
"Considering the suggestions and demands of the publishers and the fairgoers, we have made some changes in stall and pavilion arrangement as well as the entry and exit points. The previous cluster method is being changed and all the 489 stalls inside Suhrawardi Udyan have been set up in a way so that a visitor can see the whole fairground from any corner," Amar Ekushey Book Fair Committee Secretary KM Mujahidul Islam said at the press conference.
"The stalls of police, Ansar and fire service have been set up in the spot near the Institution of Engineers. Two confined zones have also been dedicated for food courts; there will be no unorganised, open or street food shops."
Due to publishers' requests regarding their commercial concerns, seven pavilions and 182 stalls have been moved from the Institution of Engineers area to the main fairground venue.
Also, the main entrance to the Suhrawardi Udyan area of the fair has been changed, and the temple gate of the Suhrawardi Udyan will now be the main entrance, which is located opposite the Bangla Academy. Also, there will be three more entrances and exits in the Teacher-Student Center (TSC), Doyel Chattar and the Institution of Engineers sections.
The traditional "Shishu Prohor" segment will be back this year after being shelved for two years in a row due to Covid. And the fair authority will organise this dedicated segment for child fairgoers every Friday and Saturday from 11am to 1pm. The "Shishu Chattar" has also been shifted from its previous place to the temple area this year.
Seminars will be held at the main stage of the fair venue at 4pm every day, followed by cultural events. There will be three information centres and a media centre at the Suhrawardi Udyan fairground for the fairgoers.
The fair venue was first extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in 2013 to accommodate more space besides its fixed venue at the Bangla Academy.
The entire fair zone will be closely monitored by more than 300 CCTV cameras.
The Chittaranjan Saha Memorial Award will be distributed to the best publishers. At the same time, the Munir Chowdhury Memorial Award will be conferred upon three organisations for publishing the best books in the 2022 fair.
Also, the Rokanuzzaman Khan Dadabhai Memorial Award will be given to the writer of the best children's book. The Artist Qayyum Chowdhury Memorial Award will be given to the best-designed stall at the fair.
The fairgoers can move through the four entrances and four exit points from 3pm to 9pm on regular days and 11am to 9pm on the holidays. However, they can enter the fair on International Mother Language Day at 8am, and all entrance points will be closed after 8.30pm.
The month-long book fair is arranged every year in February commemorating the sacrifices of people who laid down their lives on February 21, 1952, for establishing Bangla as the mother tongue.
The traditional Amar Ekushey Book Fair began informally in 1972 on the Bangla Academy premises; however, the academy officially took the responsibility of arranging the fair regularly, every year in 1978.
It was then named Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela and a guideline was laid out in this regard in 1984.
Read more: Longest-running Amar Ekushey Book Fair ends; Tk52.50 crore books sold