All bookstores have been instructed by the Bhutan infocomm and media authority (BICMA) to submit a list of books available for sale in their establishments, as part of an effort to comply with the Information, Communications and Media (ICM) Act 2006.
“This is as per the provisions of the BICMA Act and the rules governing printing presses, books, and newspapers,” BICMA media officer, Lakshuman Chettri, said.
Section 95 of the Act requires all books or newspapers made available for sale or distribution in the country, be registered with the authority first. Upon registration, the book or newspaper will be assigned a unique number, which shall be carried on every copy before being released for sale or distribution.
Asked why the authority is only now implementing the rule, Lakshuman Chettri attributed human resource shortcomings.
The move is also not a response to any complaints or presence of books that could be categorised as detrimental to Bhutan, he responded.
As per section 100 of the Act, the information and communications minister can declare books or newspapers detrimental to Bhutan. Publications found detrimental can be seized and destroyed.
During a meeting held between BICMA and bookstore owners last month, store owners were also briefed on their responsibilities, namely to ensure locally published books and newspapers have all required information printed on their covers.
BICMA agreed during the meeting that it would publish a list of books registered for sale in Bhutan online, so that bookstore owners do not have to register books individually.
By Gyalsten K Dorji