Publishing — industry or sector?

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Small and medium-sized industries and those focused on travel and tourism have long been recognized as part of the formal economy in Bangladesh. They must meet some basic prerequisites to qualify as an “industry”. These and many other smaller industries play their distinctive role in the national economy. These units constituting the informal groups belong to the immaterial sector. The problem arises with smaller zones based on investment in economies. In recent times, film and publishing industries in Bangladesh have been raising demands for them to be declared industries. They do not deal with fully tangible products or commodities. Nowadays, their activities elsewhere have expanded into areas such as digital sectors, especially e-books, online movies, etc., moving away from traditional operations and media. Unlike developed economies, where digital and non-digital filmmaking and editing go hand in hand, Bangladesh is mostly stuck in cumbersome manual services.

However, despite the fulfillment of the basic criteria by the publishing and film industries, the business activities of the two sectors have not yet received their exact industrial status. When it comes to motion pictures, people in general and those involved in the business have long referred to the combined acts of producing, directing, distributing, and exhibiting motion pictures as part of the “motion picture industry.” To see it flourish, the people concerned must invest their capital. In accordance with the rules of the market, these people either taste the successes of their investments or suffer losses. This is how an industry is loosely defined in Bangladesh.

Despite adhering to investment rules, rolling returns, and ultimately profit or loss, the world of cinema has yet to fully taste modern technical advantages. But as part of a common practice, people are used to watching the rise and fall of the “film industry” in Bangladesh. A similar trend distinguishes the publishing industry.

It is common to see many people engaged in in-depth discussions about the current state of the country’s publishing industry. Generally, experts are worried about the bleak future of this specialized and exclusive sector. The anxiety of people related to the book this year is aroused by the current pandemic situation. To add to the normal worries, the delayed start of the Ekushey book fair mega event has also emerged as a big phenomenon. Few people, however, worry about the accuracy of labeling book publishing activities as an industry. But publishers are. They think that’s where the key to their survival lies.

Since the post-independence era in Bangladesh, the tendency to informally refer to local book printing, publishing and marketing operations as the “publishing industry” has been one of the practices followed in its world. of the book. In the modern classic definition, “Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software, or online and other content available to the public.” The electronic platform, which is slowly emerging in Bangladesh, still sounds like an enigma to the majority of book publishers. In this context, none of the successive governments declared printing and book trade an “industry”. According to people familiar with the definition of the industry, they refused to call book publishing in Bangladesh an industrial unit. Online books and other documents are grouped under a new title.

In the fifty years since independence, the number of book publishers and distributors has increased significantly. Unlike other industries, the volume of investment in this one has remained modest throughout. His titles also lacked variety. Buying and wholesaling books is still stuck in a narrow sphere. Moreover, book-related activities are confined to the capital. Books are not consumer goods. But a book is indeed an object intended for pleasure. With the exception of university and school textbooks, almost all publications are read for ethereal enjoyment. The general publishing sector includes creative books such as fiction, short stories, poetry, travelogues, science fiction novels, biographies, autobiographies, children’s books, spy novels, etc To the misfortune of many publishers, despite this wide variety in the nature of books, publishing in Bangladesh has yet to be officially declared an industry. The reason is clear. Its annual publication volume is too low. The same goes for its sales products.

The country’s publishers say every year that business at the month-long Bangla Academy Ekushey book fair has been strong. In general, all publishers in Bangladesh, regardless of their size and sales volume, are looking forward to this mega book event. Book lovers too. A generally 14-day international book fair is held in Kolkata every year. Its area is ten times larger than that of Dhaka. Thousands of books of different characters are published on the occasion of the fair. Publications in all the languages ​​spoken in the Indian states are on sale or exhibited at the great fair. Publishers from SAARC countries participate in the event with English translations of their books. Bangladesh is one of them. Additionally, a few European-based publishers are participating in the fair. Each year, a foreign state becomes the theme country for the book competition. Compared to the Kolkata event, the Dhaka one is a small fair.

In addition to being the only occasion to mark the book industry, the Bangladesh fair is frequented by many amateur publishers. They publish books after taking money from equally amateur writers. Thus, the country’s editorial activity lacks professionalism. Also, except during visits to the Ekushey book fair, readers rarely leaf through a book. There are a few popular bookstores in Dhaka. But due to the continued shortage of serious readers, bookstores went out of business in a short time. Bangladesh needs a long time to be called a true book-loving nation. For this, the responsibility lies with the publishers. Looking forward to the start of book purchases by government entities each year is not a good sign.

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