June 14, 2024
Review

How Uyo Book Club is stimulating book economy, intellectual tourism in Akwa Ibom State

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  • May 28, 2024
  • 5 min read
How Uyo Book Club is stimulating book economy, intellectual tourism in Akwa Ibom State

By Udeme Nana

ANIETIE Usen is a multiple award winning journalist who worked for Punch Newspaper and NewsWatch magazine. He was a Foreign Affairs Editor and later Political Editor of TheNews magazine who covered and reported on several earth-shaking political events. Mr. Usen chronicled his journalism exploits in his first book Audacious Journalism, but it is debatable whether that book was a commercial success. The author has not expressed any concern about piracy, a crime which the Nigerian Copyright Commission has been battling to reduce in Nigeria because artists in different genres have fallen victims to pirates whose alacrity in reproducing, packaging content and distributing same without benefits to their original owners have impacted on business success in that sector. But Usen’s second book, The Village Boy was an instant hit. Apart from the relatability of the storyline in a universal manner, a chance intervention by Uyo Book Club, an initiative set up to re–awaken and promote the culture of reading among people, changed the narrative. The Village Boy is now read in universities as a textbook and has been translated into four international languages. It is still in very hot demand .

The same stroke of fortune befell Civil War Child, a book written by Dr. Nestor Udoh. Since it became the first book to be read aloud to the global audience at the attempt by John Obot to break the Guinness World Record for reading aloud in September last year in Akwa Ibom, no day passes without a copy or two being sold. In fact, according to the author, his book now ranks as one of the best in the genre of civil war accounts in the world.

Several authors have taken advantage of the platform presented by Uyo Book Club to create awareness, market their books and increase the circulation of their products. For instance, just last week, another author, Ekaette Umoh read her book at the club and sold more than 150 copies in less than five hours! Other authors who have taken advantage of Uyo Book Club to promote their books include Dominic Kidzu whose gripping book, The Rage of Rajuno is unputdownable. Anita Hogan’s Daydream or Be Left Behind also benefitted and others like James Etokidiok’s Leading in an Unknown, Idongesit Nna’s Buried Secrets and Maadiah Johnson’s Clawed to Ddeath have all reaped from the reading campaign mounted by Uyo Book Club in the past nine years.

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Author of Those Teenage Years, Ekaette Umoh (left); Stella Edemekong and founder of Uyo Book Club, Dr. Udeme Nana

Last Saturday, the General Manager of Ibom Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Ekaette Umoh, known in business circles as ‘The Profitability Queen’, took the stage to read her latest book Those Teenage Years at the club, and in the well attended session, some reviewers pointed to the author’s example of how people could adjust to harsh economic times. One said, ‘the world experienced hard times in the past and will always grapple with hard times’, stressing the importance of looking inwards and embracing agriculture as a means of self-help in the area of food sufficiency. It was pointed out that the mother of the book’s main character showed creativity and industry when her family fell into hard times by going into baking and selling her products.

Indeed, Uyo Book Club and it’s affiliates in Ikot Ekpene, Abak , Eket and others in the country are trying hard to promote a “Book Economy” in the country. This initiative requires support from Nigerians to ensure the success of the initiative. Nigeria has a very large population and that provides a large market for books, but readership must be encouraged at all levels. Readership will motivate authors, publishers will be in business, as well as booksellers, editors, proofreaders, and operators in the book ecosystem would be back in business.

The other aspect which the book club promotes is intellectual tourism as exemplified by the visit of Mr. Femi Adesina who travelled all the way from Lagos to read at the club in the month of April.

During the “Read Aloud” attempt by John Obot, it was reported that more than 5,000 visitors trooped to the venue to watch the attempt live while more than 21,000 people watched online in the 10 days which the attempt lasted.

Ekaette Umoh’s reading session, sponsored by MediaFuse DENTSU Nigeria, was attended by the former Executive Director, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, Professor Peter Umoh, former Acting Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission, Mary Uduk, former Registrar of the University of Uyo and Akwa Ibom State University, Mr. John Udo, a retired Director of NDIC, himself an author, Mr. John Etopidiok, another Chattered Banker, Mr. Celestine Mel, Dr. Martin Nde of St. Martin Hospital, Port Harcourt, and a host of book enthusiasts, including students and school leavers.

One of the best examples of intellectual tourism is the just concluded Nigeria International Book Fair held in Lagos in May. Statistics shows that 106 exhibitors participated, two foreign trade visitors and over 20 countries participated in the book fair including the United Kingdom, India, Turkey, UAE and Ghana. The book fair had over 15,000 participants from Nigeria and other countries of the world. The programmes of the book fair such as International Conference, Tertiary Education Summit, Publishers Workshop, Booksellers Conference, Librarians Conference, Authors Groove and Book Launch were well attended. Averagely, over 200 participants were part of the International Conference, Tertiary Education Summit and Book Launch while over 100 participants attended other programmes.

UYO book club, a community service initiative, is leading the chase to reawaken the culture of reading, stimulate a book economy and intellectual tourism.

* Dr. Nana is the founder of Uyo Book Club

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