Independent African publishers and authors face a unique set of challenges and limitations; on a continent where even school textbooks necessary for basic education do not ever reach their destination, and where the culture of reading is so woefully weak and undervalued that in some areas illiteracy is still a major obstacle. This restricts their market to only local bookshops and outlets, which leads to the limitation and even the strangling of their content’s potential.
Many African publishers have successfully taken advantage of digital distribution to combat this problem; however there are still some that are lagging behind the curve. Very little African content ever makes it to the international market via traditional publishing, but digital publishing renders all size publishers equal, allowing them to compete in the digital sphere amongst some of the largest publishing houses internationally.
Great potential in Africa’s digital publishing future
More and more digital publishing solutions are adjusting their offering to enable local authors and publishers to take their content online. Effectively providing them with the platform to monetize their content and transgress the geographical boundaries that traditional publishing is limited to and instead freeing their content by offering it on mobile stores like Apple, Android, and BlackBerry, to a readership that spans the globe.
Not only will the rest of the world now have access to genuine African content; but with the introduction of more and more affordable e-reading devices, including tablets with e-reader apps, we will see more Africans reading local content. Already the increase in digital sales of this content is encouraging. More affordable eReaders and tablets in Africa should encourage the uptake of local eBooks, which will have a positive effect on the continents’ reading habits.
Many independent African publishers embracing digital
Snapplify is an African-based digital publishing company, with partners all over the globe, that has played a major role in helping numerous local publishers and authors leverage their digital publishing platform to give their content the global push. Not only does this mean they will experience international traction, but because Snapplify supports Android (the dominating OS in Africa) there will soon be a proliferation of accessible local content available on the mobile stores.
Some independent African publishing clients thriving on the Snapplify digital publishing platform include Mampoer shorts, Big Bug Books, iOL, Nollybooks in Nigeria, and AfriBooks (launched in collaboration with Burnet Media and Snapplify partner, Berg + Bach).
Tim Richman, MD of Burnet Media said: “Digital publishing in South Africa is in something of a no-man’s land at the moment. There is a steadily increasing market, but it appears to be more interested in buying international titles rather than local. We believe AfriBooks offers a great opportunity to take easily accessible, well-priced content to a wider audience, both within South Africa and abroad.”