Book enthusiasts around the globe marked World Book Day on Friday, which falls on April 23 every year, without any festivity amid the pandemic.
Book lovers celebrated the day with their favourite paperbacks or digital editions.
Since its inception, it has been observed in different countries to raise public awareness about reading books, printing books, circulations, preserving copyrights of the writers-publishers and other aspects.
Regarding this special day, UNESCO’s official statement says: “23 April is a symbolic date for world literature. It is on this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors, such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.”
“It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.
“With this in mind, UNESCO created World Book and Copyright Day. The Day is celebrated by a growing number of partners and since its launch has shown itself to be a great opportunity for reflection and information on a significant theme,” the official statement stated.
Each year, UNESCO and international organisations representing publishers, booksellers, and libraries select the World Book Capital for a one-year period. Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, has been selected as the World Book Capital for 2021.
Pandemic hits book industry
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Bangladesh - like the rest of the world - has experienced a dramatic drop in terms of garnering revenue from printed books, and the most unfortunate victim of the situation has been the recently concluded traditional Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2021.
Despite the odds, the number of online consumers has increased in recent times, just like the other e-commerce businesses. In addition to that, a large number of readers are also being attracted to e-books and audiobooks, both of which are seeing growing popularity in the western world.
From online-based book-selling platforms like Rokomari to well-reputed bookstores such as Bengal Boi, Batighar, Anyaprokash and more have been consistently utilising this opportunity to remain the bridge between the authors and the readers through online marketplace.
In terms of readers, although the general idea is that the number of readers has decreased over the years - there is still a good number of readers passionately continuing the practice and habit of reading.
This readership is not only being evaluated based on the number of readers of paperback editions, but the e-book phenomena too, which is now a more convenient option for many readers.
The best companion
"Books are the lifelong guardians, partners and friends that can have a positive effect on many things in our lives. A good book is also a great companion in times of our loneliness. During last year's pandemic and lockdown, people opted to pursue many positive and creative ways to battle against anxiety and depression, which, in my case, were my books," Masud Parvez Ove, debate facilitator and college teacher at South Point School and College told UNB.
Echoing the love of books and the importance of World Book Day, Tanisha Ahmed, a teacher at Lakehead Grammar School, Dhaka and an English literature graduate from East West University, said: "Marquee occasions like World Book Day remind us about the significance of reading as a lifehack.
“During my undergraduate years as a student of English literature, I came across reading some of the incredible literary creations which not only enlightened and delighted me as a reader, but also broaden my vision and perspective towards life.
“Carrying those learnings forward, now I teach my students to be in love with books, which is undoubtedly the best companion to anyone."