NIBF, On A Mission to Make Digital Reading Acceptable; An Analysis.
This analysis briefly looks at a pre-launch call for the establishment of a Nigerian Book Commission to help guide the industry in a period of transition and challenges. Challenges refer to all issues involving piracy, distribution, rise in paper costs, underdeveloped reading culture, and the list goes on. To critically address these challenges, the 18th Nigeria International Book Fair was tagged, ‘Optimising New Technology in Book Development and Distribution for The Promotion of Book Trade in Africa.
Mr. Gbadega Adedapo, Chairman of the Nigerian Publishers Association, Nigeria International Book Fair Trust, and one of Nigeria’s biggest publishing houses, said, “It is sad that there is no umbrella body for the book industry. What we have is a department under NERDC (Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council). Our recommendations for the past 18 years have not been implemented because we do not know who to report to. We need a Nigerian Book Commission where issues relating to the industry can be properly looked into”. On the need to transition into digital reading, Adedapo further stated that the unavailability of most African published books on digital platforms is quite unfortunate. He also made emphasis on the need to address the slow pace at which the digital revolution is being embraced for adoption in the publishing industry.
In stark contrast to some African publishing industry leaders, Adedapo called for a campaign of acceptability for digital reading. Although Nigeria is home to one of the largest African Ebook store, Okada Books, which has about 25,000 titles, he admonished saying that there is a real shortage of digital reading options for Nigerians. Neither Amazon, Google Play, nor Apple is there, and Kobo is only available through its US-based international store. Territorial restrictions imply that most mainstream international titles are not available. It is not that Nigerians don’t read – the country is home to some world-class literature and authors. However, the practicalities of print production and distribution mean it’s often easier to sell a Nigerian book in the USA than in a neighbouring African country, or even in Nigeria itself.
With 111 million people online, Nigeria is the 7th largest country in the world by internet users –more than any country in Europe, and it is likely to take 6th place from Japan as at the time of documenting this analysis. The digital transition won’t happen overnight, but it is happening. In the next few years, we will see Nigeria take its rightful place among the most prominent players in the global publishing industry.