25 January, 2021

The Printer Devils

Bengal's book trade is hit where it hurts by transborder piracy

The Printer Devils

Last October, popular Bengali author Sunil Gangopadhyay wrote a novella for the festival issue of a leading Bengali magazine. A few weeks later, he chanced upon a bound copy of the same novella in a Calcutta bookshop. Gangopadhyay was vexed: he had not given the novella’s copyright to any publisher. Then friends told him that the pirated copies had been published from Bangladesh and had already sold a few thousand copies in that country.

Gangopadhyay’s plight is shared by almost all the leading novelists of West Bengal today. Over the years, the authors and the local publishing industry have been hit hard by the scourge of piracy in neighbouring Bangladesh. The geo-lingual affinity of Bangladesh with West Bengal makes it a serious problem. Calcutta-based publishers reckon that Bengali book exports to Bangladesh have dropped a worrisome 80 per cent due to piracy.

Authors from West Bengal have traditionally enjoyed a large constituency of readers in neighbouring Bangladesh. No wonder, Bangladesh with its population of 120 million has turned...



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