Don canvasses reposition of publishing industry for sustainability
The 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 at day 2 of the just concluded Nigeria International Book Fair (NIBF) 2022.
Speaking on the topic: ‘Publishing in Nigeria: Imperative of Change, Growth and Sustainability,’ Okere described publishing as a noble profession and academic discipline that sustains individual growth and national development. Hence, he said 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, maximise opportunities for e-publishing,q especially for persons with disabilities and harness social media in book promotion.
He further identified nine indices to reposition the publishing industry. They are: 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 all over the geo-political zones of the country. With over two hundred members, he argued that NPA has the numerical strength.
Okere, however, suggested that with such numerical strength, there is need to preserve publishers’ 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, he acknowledged NPA’s role for publishing educative materials. He, however, advised members to publish journals and books for institutions of higher learning.
Speaking on feasibility, he said, “We must be globally feasible and aesthetically appealing. We must have a website that is beautiful and up to date.”
The director noted that NPA has to be dynamic and must evolve with new technological trends. He said there is 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.
Okere advised members to leverage publishing audio books in electronic formats. He noted that there is need to have inclusive access to literacy materials.
Speaking further, he stressed the need for publishing to be professionalised. He warned, “if we don’t think professionalism, then we are not growing and that is quackery.”
Speaking on reference Point Input, he cited American Publishers Association that is a good reference point in publishing across the globe. He said NPA must be a good reference point, while suggesting that ‘The Publishers’ journal must be revived.
Okere noted that it is important to think of the nine indices; harness and harmonize them; think change, growth and sustainability.
He 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 is changing so we must not let publishing die.”
Representative of NPA president, Alh. Lukman Dauda, said publishing business is profitable but observed that lack of unity has been a major challenge.
Dauda, who is also the vice president, stressed that there is need for collaboration among members. He identified another challenge which is the activities of pirates. He, however said this could be addressed by being united.
Chairman of the event, Mr. Henry Idogun, said publishers’ books could be dramatised. He cited Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart that was acted into film and translated into many languages.
Director General Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) Mr. John Asein, said the challenge facing the industry is that “we talk and we don’t act.” He said there is need for publishers to include holograms in their books in order to check the excesses of pirates.
In his speech, Prof. of Publishing, 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 and find out what the public is interested in reading.