Time was when books were published and used to be sold at the many bookstores all over Dhaka city. Of course, they are still published and yet sold everywhere. But there is a difference between then and now. Then, it was a simple matter of one's writing or compiling a book and leaving distributors and bookstore owners to dispose of them.
But now we have these book launches, which are occasionally a chance for a writer to invite a few famous men and women in town to a small party. These individuals, who have already been given copies of the book to read before they take centre stage at the launch, are generally unwilling to do anything other than shower praises on the writer even if his work is one that should simply be flung out of the window or hurled to the floor.
A book launch is, in a number of ways, a straitjacket. It is so because it persuades the discussants on the programme as also the audience to do nothing but praise the towering wisdom of the writer even though his book may be full of inanities.
Books are a serious matter. You read them if they cater to your tastes; and you leave them aside if they do not hold any appeal for you. There are books that bristle with banalities; and then there are the tomes you simply cannot put down. When a book sees the light of day, you make it your business to troop down to the nearest bookstore and judge its contents and quality for yourself.
Of course, you may read a review of it in some newspaper or the other. But if you are a reader intent on analysing a book on your own, despite everything others might say about it, you will sift through its pages in meticulous detail.
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