At LABAF 2021, Stakeholders Mull Book Sector Improvement

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LITERARY CAFÉ

Yinka Olatunbosun

One of the most profound sessions at the 23rd Lagos Book and Arts Festival, LABAF was the Publishers Forum where stakeholders in the book sector charted new thinking for the sector’s development.

The session which had as its theme ‘Getting books to readers across the country and the Role of Library and Resource Centres in Getting Books to Readers’ was moderated by Mr Richard Mammah, President, Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria, NBRP. It was coordinated by Segun Aribisala on behalf of CORA and supported by Quramo Publishing.

The book industry players were urged to raise their voices and make their activities more visible through enhanced public awareness and sensitisation.

It was also agreed that the full implementation of a National Book Policy within the shortest possible time would help to resolve some of the challenges that beset the sector and threaten the knowledge economy.

The stakeholders resolved to encourage the attachment of functional and viable book clubs to all libraries in the country. In addition, they want all governments across board, and particularly at the local government area level, to establish, maintain, staff and furnish at least one community library per LGA, whose book stock must be renewed and updated annually.

“That going forward, libraries should be seen and regarded as more than ‘houses of books,’ but even more appropriately as ‘living community houses and centres of ideas and culture’ where unfettered dissemination and transmission of information is maximally encouraged and takes place,” read the communique signed by Jahman Anikulapo, the founder, LABAF.

Besides clamouring for conditions that can lead to improved readership patronage, stakeholders are optimistic that the establishment of a ‘National Books Distribution Company’ as a practical vehicle for lowering distribution and marketing costs will strengthen the distribution network for books and ease availability.

In addition to the tradition route of book publishing and distribution, publishers are urged to take advantage of the Information Technology tools to package their contents for readers across various formats (audio books, e-book, V-book, braille etc) to encourage and promote reading amongst the youths.

The stakeholders were drawn from, among others, the Committee for Relevant Art, the Nigerian Book Fair Trust, the Nigerian Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association of Nigeria, the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions, and the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria.

Some of the select speakers and panelists that made presentations were Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, Chief (Hon.) Uchenna Cyril Anioke, Dr Nkem Osuigwe, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo, Mr Dotun Eyinade, Iquo DianaAbasi, Farida Ladipo-Ajayi, Princess Irede Abumere, Mrs Funmi Ilori, Amara Chimeka, Rufus Onaopemipo and Ademola Adefolami.