Saturday, May 5, 2012
Nigeria International Book Fair… boosting the book trade, improving reading culture
There is something about the atmosphere when you enter into a bookshop
that encourages you to want to buy and read books, but today the
reverse is the case. Some parents spend lots of money buying movies
than buying books.Once they hear about the latest movie in town, they
will rush to get that movie. Such attention is not being focused on
books. The only books these children see are the textbooks they use in
school. So, how are they going to improve their reading habits?"
EMPOWERING the people through promotion of reading culture and
providing books and other instructional materials for better education
and self-improvement have been at the core of activities of the
Nigeria Book Fair Trust, organiser sof the yearly Nigeria
International Book Fair (NIBF).
Theme of this year’s edition of the fair, The State of
Infrastructural Development in Africa And the Future of the Book
Trade, is designed to further achieve the fair’s objectives.
At a press briefing recently to announce this year’s fair usually
held at the Multi-purpose Hall of the University of Lagos, Akoka,
Lagos, organisers announced Monday, May 7 through 12, as date for the
weeklong book trade. Apart from providing an exciting opportunity for
tapping from the large Nigerian market, past editions of the fair show
that it is the best venue to find the latest releases in all subjects,
ranging from literature to business and economics, education, and many
Chairman of NIBF and Managing Director of Ibadan-based University
Press Plc, Mr. Samuel Kolawole, stated that the number of both
exhibitors and visitors has gradually increased over the years, and
tasked book dealers not to miss out on the opportunity to gain
competitive edge. Kolawole added that a lot of programmes has been
lined up during the fair to make it truly stimulating.
On the yearly international conference to brainstorm on issues in
the book trade, Kolawole stated that stakeholders in the book industry
would be brought together to rub minds on topical issues that bother
on the stability of the industry. “Other crucial issues that threaten
the growth of book industry in Africa will also be discussed during
the fair,” he said.
The book fair, which is the 11th in the series, will have
participants from countries such as United States of America, United
Kingdom, Turkey, United Arab Emirate, India, Senegal, Cameroon,
Zimbabwe, Botswana, Ghana, among others, said Kolawole. He reiterated
that there would be buyers and sellers meeting to provide opportunity
for people in the book trade from within and outside the country to
network and do business.
This year’s fair is in conjunction with African Publishers Network.
Another feature of the fair will be a media workshop to be organised
by Afro-Asian Book Council, together with the sponsorship of
children’s programme, which has also increased.
THE focus of the fair is on the level of infrastructure that Africa
has and how it affects the book trade in the country, especially given
that the world is now a global village, as it relates to books going
into digital format, and even online publishing.
He argued, “If you want to take advantage of that which you have,
you must look at your infrastructure; what access do we have in
Nigeria? What of the issue of electricity? We are not only looking at
Nigeria, but Africa in particular and see what the state of
infrastructure is so that we can see how to benefit from developments
in the developed world in terms of book trade itself.
“People would say you cannot look at America and follow them, but
whatever happens there happens in Nigeria. The only way we can move
forward is by accessing the facilities that are on ground in the
country so that we can determine how government can come in and
improve and move the book trade in Africa forward”
According to Kolawole, NIBF also prides itself as a cultural event
serving to project the country’s literary culture to the wider world
and helping to generate foreign direct investments. The numerous
visitors and participants at the book fair are all considered
potential tourists and investors, but Kolawole said in as much as the
fair attracts foreigners into the country, it was yet to rub off on
local publishers and publishing.
He noted, “There are a lot of things government can do. They should
have policy on education just like what NIBF is doing; nobody is
monitoring anything. There are more private initiatives than
government policies. For instance, in the tertiary area where there is
high level of publishing activities in the country, if you want to
encourage publishers in the university, you cannot use books without
Nigerians participating. Then, if publishers from outside the country
come and bring books, you can get a lecturer in the country who will
look at the books and domesticate them for Nigeria. Besides, Nigerian
publishers have to be involved, including booksellers and agents. If
that is in place it will improve local publishers. We do not seem to
be bothered about what is going on; that is why they can sit down
abroad and keep sending things to us here”.
Kolawole urged government to setup a National Book Commission in
the country, stressing that once that is done, it would go a long way
in developing the book sector. He argued, “When there is a National
Book Commission, there will be development in the sector. The
commission will be concerned with issues relating to books ranging
from authorship, publishing, book selling, and editing among others …”
WHEN the Nigeria International Book Fair opens, it will also provide
opportunity for children to see all kinds of books. According to
Kolawole, there is no better opportunity for children to see a large
collection of books in the country today than at the book fair.
He noted, “In the past when the book trade was well-structured in
Nigeria, parents took their children to bookshops; they had the
benefit of entering a bookshop and seeing an array of books, but now
the children do not know if bookshops exist anymore because the books
are brought to their schools.
“That is a major problem we are facing in this country. When one is
talking about reading culture, once one gets to the bookshop, one will
even buy more than the books he is looking for. There is something
about the atmosphere when you enter into a bookshop that encourages
you to want to buy and read books, but today the reverse is the case.
Some parents do not even bother; they spend lots of money buying
movies than buying books.
“Once they hear about the latest movie in town, they will rush to
get that movie. Such attention is not being focused on books. The only
books these children see are the textbooks they use in school. So, how
are they going to improve their reading habits? The book fair is
creating that opportunity for children to come around and see
different kinds of book, ranging from literature books, fiction and
non-fiction books. There is no way a child will come to the book fair
and not be impacted upon positively”.