Uploaded by chinelo on October 14, 2011
[caption id="attachment_1019" align="alignleft" width="330" caption="A scene from the 2009 fair"][/caption]
African publishers and booksellers have always had a difficult time breaking into these international book fairs. One big drawback is cost. Few African publishers, who are already struggling to stay afloat have the ability to cover thousands of euros worth of airline tickets, feeding and accommodation, and stand and event fees.
This is a problem because much of the nitty-gritty of publishing - the selling of rights, recruiting new authors and forming partnerships - is often conducted at these fairs. If Africans aren't there to make their voices heard, they might as well be invisible on the world stage.
Organisers of the Frankfurt Book Fair recognize there is a problem. The article notes: "In the last few years, the growing absence of buyers has become a big problem for the Frankfurt Book Fair. Small and middle-sized publishing houses are no longer under any illusions as to the economic feasibility of an appearance at the fair." However, whether they are willing to make any concrete efforts at inclusion remains to be seen.
Meanwhile Africa's attempt to create its own regional book fair has been facing difficulties. This year's Cape Town book fair was forced to cancel due to lack of sponsorship and funding. Here's hoping they are able to regroup for next year. The publishing industry in Africa is growing, but until it can crack the world market, it will remain a largely regional phenomenon.