…We can have African version of Amazon
ASSOCIATE Professor of Publishing and Media Studies, Department of Mass Communication, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Samuel Okere, has insisted that in order for the publishing industry to be sustainable, there is need for repositioning. He stated this on Day 2 of the Nigeria International Book Fair (NIBF) 2022 that ended May 14, 2022 in Lagos.
Okere spoke on ‘Publishing in Nigeria: Imperative of Change, Growth and Sustainability, and described publishing as a noble profession and academic discipline that sustains individual growth and national development, and canvassed that publishing must never be allowed to die.
Okere, who is also the Director, Babcock University Press, said members of Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA) must embark on innovative book publishing management to maximize opportunities for e-publishing, especially for persons with disabilities and harness social media in book promotion. He further identified nine indices to reposition the publishing industry to include numerical strength, self-preservation, generic product development, visibility, evolving technology, corporate social responsibility, inclusivity, professionalism and reference point input.
On numerical strength, he said publishers are spread all over the geo-political zones of the country. With over two hundred members, Okere argued that NPA has the numerical strength, but he, however, suggested that with such numerical strength, there is need to preserve publishers’ business heritage by addressing piracy. He said NPA has made some progress with their partnership with Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), especially in terms of awareness and education.
Concerning generic product development, the don acknowledged NPA’s role in publishing educational materials. He, however, advised members to publish journals and books for institutions of higher learning, as that demographic was being left behind. On feasibility, he said, “We must be globally feasible and aesthetically appealing. We must have a website that is beautiful and up to date.”
He added that NPA has to be dynamic and must evolve with new technological trends, and urged them on the need to embrace digital revolution in order to be sustainable, stressing that “we can have African version of Amazon.”
On inclusivity, He noted that persons with disabilities must be carried along by providing materials for the visually impaired. He also advised members to leverage on publishing audio books in electronic formats. He noted that there is need to have inclusive access to literacy materials by all segments of society.
Speaking further, Okere stressed the need for publishing to be professionalized, and warned, “if we don’t think professionalism, then we are not growing and that is quackery.”
He also spoke on reference Point Input, and cited American Publishers Association as a good reference point in publishing across the globe. He said NPA must be a good reference point, and the association to revive The Publishers journal to disseminate information about trends in publishing in the country.
Dr. Okere concluded by urging Nigerian publishers to think of the nine indices, harness and harmonize them, think change, growth and sustainability as important factors that will stand the association and its members out in the modern era.
He further observed that publishing thrives on ideas and publishers have the ideas. He said there is also technology at their disposal and technology is driving change and changing the narrative.
According to him, “We are in a changing world; every mode of production and social relations are changing, so we must not let publishing die.”
- Vice President of the publsihers asssociation, Alhaji Lukman Dauda, said publishing business is profitable but observed that lack of unity has been a major challenge, stressing that there is need for collaboration among members. He identified the activities of pirates as another challenge which needs to be tackled with seriousness. Dauda, however, said this could be addressed by also being united agsinst the criminals.
- Chairman of the event, Mr. Henry Idogun, said books already published could be dramatised, and cited Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart that was turned into a film and translated into many languages.
- Also, Director General of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Mr. John Asein, said the challenge facing the book industry is that “we talk and we don’t act,” arguing that there is need for publishers to include holograms in their books in order to check the excesses of pirates.
- A professor of publishing at the University of Ibadan, Andrew Okwilagwe, said Nigerians love to read but they don’t get what they want to read. He advised publishers to do thorough research to find out what the public is interested in reading and tailor books published to meet their needs.