The printing and publishing industry in a battle of survival

23 February 2021

THE publishing industry of Bangladesh is in a dire situation due to the prolonged closure of educational institutions in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure has cut down  sales of publishing houses by more than 70 per cent. Although many educational institutions continued their classes using digital platforms, this did not help the publishing industry much. The sale of all categories of books declined to less than one-third of the average. The downturn also affected the allied businesses such as printing, binding and other relevant services.
Many workers involved in the printing and publishing industry lost their jobs. The owners of the publishing houses also failed to receive any support from the formal financial institutions. The sector having a great potential has witnessed 20-70 per cent job cuts at various levels. The country's most eminent booksellers said their daily sale went down to one-third of the normal. The situation has become somewhat better since the easing of the lockdown. But it is far behind the normal sales.
Insiders said almost all other sectors are now recuperating losses while the publishing industry faces a blink future in near future. A number of traders have already deserted the business, while most others are struggling to survive in a very hostile environment. After losing business during the last season, the publishers thought the situation would improve this year with the opening of the educational institutions, but, unfortunately, that is not happening. According to the Bangladesh Pustak Prokashak O- Bikreta Samity, the publishing sector has suffered losses worth more than Tk 3,000 crore due to the coronavirus pandemic. The yearly turnover of this sector is around Tk 12,000 crore, but during this pandemic year, it has not reached more than 10 per cent of the amount.
Only leading publishing houses so far have received shares of the official stimulus package, while small and medium publishers and sellers have got nothing. The publishing industry as the sector is promoting they dissemination of knowledge among the people merits support to get back on its feet.

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