Want more readers? Produce more books

[caption id="attachment_1305" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Magazines at a Kenyan Library. Image courtesy of semacraft.com"]

A great post on the Afrofutures blog noted that until Africans develop their own readership, African literature will continue to be defined by the West – where most of its readers are.

Zimbabwean author Tendai Huchu says:

The truth is that western readers are crucial for any African writer who is looking for success today, and it is inevitable that the west will continue to determine the value and worth of literature from the African continent. As such this literature will continue to be judged and valued by western perceptions.

The thing is, the number of readers in Africa is rising in tandem with the continent’s growing middle-class. But poor infrastructure may be holding back their interest in their own literature.

You see, many African publishers have much higher costs of production because of poor printing facilities, transportation and communication networks.  Often, they  are not able to publish as many titles as their western counterparts and when they do, they have a tougher time getting their books into readers' hands. This can sometimes mean that African readers aren’t accessing their own literature.

However, as facilities improve it will create a positive cycle helping raise the level of output and the influence of African literature within the continent. More Africans will be inspired to head their own publishing houses on the continent, producing more books. More books will mean a wider range of subjects – including popular genres like thrillers, romances, and fantasy. And a wider range of subjects will mean more readers.

To gain more readers in Africa, we need to gain more publishers – and this can only be done if government priorities focus on improving infrastructure and encouraging private enterprise.


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