Culture and Lifestyle

Saving the Book Industry

The Nigerian Book Industry has been a major driver of literacy, public liberty through self-awareness and education. It has done a lot of developmental projects that have produced books and media materials which serve as materials for the Nigerian children. Therefore, the Nigerian Book industry has been in the forefront of shaping young and old mind, bringing minds closer to national and global discourses. The Nigeria International Book Fair is at the forefront of engaging stakeholders in the industry.  The organisation has helped gear robust conversations on the survival of the book culture, created a platform for interaction and partnerships between international and national publishing firms, and has put forward a competitive representation as one of Africa’s major book exhibitions.   

The National Bureau of Statistics in Nigeria noted that the adult literacy rate is 56.9%. The disparity between states like Lagos (92.0%) and Borno (14.5%) is glaring. It also noted that, while there are literates in the urban areas (74.6%), it begins to slide down into illiteracy in rural areas at 48.7%. The statistics also revealed the changes of literacy between males (65.1%) and female (48.6%).

Aware of these grim statistics amongst many other issues, the Nigerian International Book Fair 2020 will also gather stakeholders in the book industry to discuss the prevalent realities of doing business at this time and try to brainstorm on ways to resolve lingering business challenges. The NIBF usually heralds a new publishing year in Nigeria, it is often held at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. This year, the event has also gone virtual like other culture, literacy projects, arts festivals, and events in accordance to the COVID-19 rules.

Gbadebo Adedapo, the chairman of the Nigeria International Book Fair, said that ‘This will be Nigeria’s First Virtual Book Fair and it is a free-to-exhibit and free-to-attend event with the theme ‘Information Technology as a Panacea for the Book Industry Sustainability Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.’ The event is scheduled to hold from 1st to 7th September, 2020, with embedded and interesting programs such as the book fair conference, panellists’ discussion, exhibition, book sales, children programmes, buying and selling of rights, networking and several mind-blowing webinar sessions organised by various key stakeholders such as Authors, Publishers, Printers, Booksellers and Librarians, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) amongst others.’

In a Press release made available to the media, organisers of the Nigerian International Book Fair asked ‘what is the state of mind of the originator of book content or writers? What have the publishers been doing to survive? What is the state of the businesses (Publishers) that help package good contents that they deliver to the intended readers, either for examination purposes or others like leisure reading or entertainment, amusement, enlightenment, etc? What has been the state of libraries? When will they ever be open to the public in this era of partial lockdown? If, in spite of the challenges, good content gets packaged into books, where is the financial capacity to take them to printers who publish them to the physical copies Nigerian end-users largely prefer? Even, when the books are printed, what is the state of the booksellers, who by default, should showcase these books and get them delivered to the readers? Or better still, are the readers willing to pay, at an unprecedented period such as this, when attention has largely been shifted from books to food and health?

The conference keynote address would be delivered by Huago Setzer, President of International Publishers Association, Switzerland. According to the organisers, ‘We have confirmed his availability for the event and other special guests and speakers. The event would be opened for over 10,000 participants.’

Read Also: NLNG/CORA Book Party: On the Future of Narratives

The Nigeria International Book Fair hopes to shift the current national discourse by making the exhibition platform free for all stakeholders in the publishing industry, as well as digitally open to all prospective buyers, readers, agents, authors, researchers, culture enthusiasts and book lovers.

Femi Morgan

Categories: Culture and Lifestyle

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