Booklovers now prefer to get books at their doorsteps, especially after the spread of COVID-19, publishers are now banking on online marketplaces instead of traditional marketing chain.
A number of publishers said that their online sales surpassed the sales at their stalls at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair, considered as the largest book festival in Bangladesh. Turnout of visitors to the fairground dropped sharply in 2020 and this year for the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic also hampers the regular book marketing chain and the booklovers now prefer to get books at their doorsteps instead of going to bookshops.
Initially there was a single online platform for buying books but now there are more than 25 platforms. Among them, rokomari.com, bookshopbd.com, bdonlinebazar.com, boibazar.com, eboighar.com, boionlinebd.com are prominent. Besides all other items, daraz.com.bd is also selling books at the growing market demand.
Publishers signed agreement with the online platforms and also launched their own platforms to sell their publications.
Publishers and book sellers said that book sales on online platforms were increasing despite the Amar Ekushey Book Fair was going on.
“People now prefer to buy books online. Now we are getting more orders,’’ said Md Amin Khan, publisher, Akkhar Prokashani. He is frustrated at the low turnout of visitors to Ekushey Book Fair.
SM Younus, marketing officer at Katha Prokash, thinks that the book fair was a publicity tool for their books.
“We prefer to sell books online considering the present situation and customers also like it. Our sales are much better online,“ said Younus.
Tonmoy Saha, salesperson at Anyaprokash, said that they even received pre-orders of their books to be published in near future.
“Customers now get their book faster and easily from different online stores. And this is another reason for increasing the sales online, “said Tonmoy.
Md Habibur Rahman, publisher of Genius Publications, said that their online sales were more than the sales at the Ekushey Book Fair stall.
Tarek Haider, cash in charge, Pathak Shamabesh Centre, said, “We are selling our books in online through our website, facebook page and also using our own app. We take our online activities seriously after the pandemic began.”
He said that they were offering five to ten per cent discount to customers as they were getting more orders online.
Imran Hossain Roni, marketing officer at rokomari.com, said that on an average 30 to 40 per cent buyers were ordering books online and very few readers were interested to buy books from the book fair.
Robin Ahsan, owner of boionlinebd.com and publisher of Shraban Prakashani, they were selling books of more than 100 publishing houses and getting more orders from buyers.
At Amar Ekushey Book Fair, publishers and sellers at the stalls expressed frustration at the sales.
“Still, we hope that the number of visitors will increase. We should also keep in mind that this year things were different than the previous years,” said Farid Ahmed Talukder, publication officer, Bangla Academy.
Combined sale at the book fair was about Tk 82 crore in 2020, Tk 77.55 crore in 2019, Tk 70.50 crore in 2018, Tk 65 crore in 2017, Tk 40.5 crore in 2016, Tk 21.95 crore in 2015, Tk 16 crore in 2014, Tk. 10.15 crore in 2013 and Tk. 26 crore in 2012.
There were 4,919 new titles in the 2020 fair, 4,834 in 2019, 4,591 in 2018, 3,646 in 2017, 3,444 in 2016 and 3,700 in 2015, 2,959 in 2014, 3,070 in 2013, 3,669 in 2012, 3,013 books in 2011 and 3,354 in 2010.