THE PROBLEMS OF INDIGENOUS BOOK PUBLISHING IN NIGERIA PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES OF PUBLISHING IN AFRICA: INSIGHT FROM A NIGERIAN INDIGENOUS PUBLISHING FIRM

THE PROBLEMS OF INDIGENOUS BOOK PUBLISHING IN NIGERIA PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES OF PUBLISHING IN AFRICA: INSIGHT FROM A NIGERIAN INDIGENOUS PUBLISHING FIRM

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ABSTRACT

Book publishing seems to be taking the back seat in the “comity” of mass media especially in Africa. The import of publishing is communication. The book at present is one of the most important tools for that purpose; however, not much is known about book publishing especially in developing countries. It is in this regard therefore that this study explored the problems of indigenous book publishing in Nigeria, the most populous black nation. The study had three objectives, namely: to find out the contributions that indigenous publishers are making towards the development of the Nigerian economy, to explore the challenges facing the book industry as well as the prospects available for book publishing. The theoretical framework for the study hinged on the libertarian theory of the press. The study being a survey utilized the questionnaire as instrument for data collection. The population of the study is 361 individuals that work in an indigenous publishing firm in Nigeria. The findings indicated that publishers are contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy. The major challenges confronting the publishing industry include book piracy and infrastructure deficit while the prospects include the ever expanding population of citizens and the policy of compulsory basic education. The study recommends among others, a synergistic approach in fighting copyright violations involving all stakeholders: authors, printers, publishers, booksellers, Nigerian Copyright Commission and other law enforcement agencies.


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The place of book publishing to national development is recognized by experts (Valdehuesa, 1985; Smith, 1989; Okoro, 1990; Ike, 2004; and Christopher, 2010). Book publishing promotes learning, advances knowledge, and connects divers sectors of the population: technocrats with lay persons, scholars with students, leaders with followers, storytellers with their publics. It also bridges the gap between academia and the market place, between school and community and nations, between past and present and present and future (Valdehuesa, 1985, p. 710).

Book publishing is an essential enterprise in every nation. It affects every sector of the economy. Nigeria has a number of publishing firms; some are indigenous while a few are foreign in origin. Among the few foreign ones which of course have also become indigenous (owing to the indigenization policy of 1978) include Longman Plc, now Learn Africa Plc, Macmillan Publishers Limited, Evans Brothers Publishers Limited, Spectrum Books Publishers Limited, Heinemann Educational Books Plc and University Press Plc. The 1978 Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree provided that at least 60% equity participation in book publishing must be by Nigerian nationals. Although the number of indigenous publishers has risen in recent times, the former are still the most prominent in the country (Ike, 2004, p.1).

Bankole (2005, p. 229) posits that a remarkable achievement of the first generation of Nigerian publishers is that they had a good relationship with their authors and that it could be said that this early set of publishers was instrumental to the discovery of the early geniuses of Nigerian literature—Amos Tutuola, John Pepper Clark, Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka.

Book publishing in Nigeria tends to be an all comers affair. The essential requirement seems to be the ability to secure an office space with sign post indicating that you are a publisher. This has resulted to a number of printers presenting themselves as publishers. This to a great extent gave rise to the setting up of Nigeria Publishers Association (NPA) to regulate the affairs of its members. Book publishing unlike its sister media (newspapers, magazine and journals) is generally a private sector affair. Professor Chukwuemeka Ike adduces reason for this situation; publishing in Nigeria is essentially a private sector affair. Because of the absence of pre- determined qualifications or conditions to be met, book publishing is one of the most unregulated Industries in Nigeria. All you require to become a publisher is to erect a signpost outside your office or residence (Ike, 2004, p. 2). Government seems to leave publishing to individuals and groups. Although government still has parastatals or departments that carter for its printing needs, professional book publishing is handled or contracted to known publishers.

Books, like other vehicles of information and sources of entertainment, can change, influence, elevate, demean, exalt, or depress those who expose themselves to them. What books are and can be depends heavily on the judgment, integrity, taste, and acumen of those who select and produce them—publishers. Thus publishers play a vital role, not only in the marketplace, but within the culture and civilization of which they are a part, and what makes books publishing a profession as well as a business is the conscious pursuit of publishers of their responsibilities (Dessauer, 1981).

Any nation that toys with book publishing is a nation that is bound to backwardness and obscurity because such a nation does not recognize the importance of books. Okoro (1990) agrees that the place of books in national and educational development cannot be over- emphasized. Books have a special position in the history of mankind. The literature, history, music, human achievements and cultural heritage of a nation are all recorded and preserved in books. Without books, the education of the people and the communication of ideas from one generation to the other would be difficult (Okoro, 1990, p. 199).

1.2      STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

It has been generally noted that when publishing is mentioned, what readily comes to mind is the issuing of newspapers, magazines and other periodicals, thus leaving books which are essential aspect of publishing. Book publishing therefore seems to be taking the back seat in the “comity” of mass media especially in a developing economy like Nigeria. Quoting Eva-Maria Rathgeber, Okoro (1990, p. 200) wrote: “…book publishing is a relatively little known occupation in many African countries. Among the general populace, in many African countries, there is even greater vagueness about book publishing.”

The above view is also corroborated by Smith (1989, p. 3) who posits that the import of book publishing “is not always understood and appreciated by people outside the book field.” Nigeria as a developing economy is experiencing a lot of challenges especially in the education sector. Several factors have also been identified by experts to be responsible for this ugly incidence one of such is lack of access to essential text books. White (1946, p. 58) points out that “An examination of the publishing industry in any country must inevitably concern itself, not merely with the economics of the production and distribution of books, but also with the educational and social implications of their supply and use.”

The publishing industry is bedeviled by a lot of challenges. It is a common phenomenon to hear publishers accuse printers and booksellers of piracy; authors accuse publishers of cheating them by nonpayment or underpayment of royalty. Even the end users themselves-readers accuse booksellers of exorbitant pricing while the booksellers in turn point to the publishers as being responsible for the high price of books. Publishers deny it by stating that they give generous discounts to the booksellers whose greed would not allow them sell at official price. Publishers also try to justify their high price on the cost of doing business in the country because of Government’s inability to provide the needed infrastructure and good investment environment and policy. Students of tertiary institutions who constitute the major reading public try to play it smart by engaging in massive and unrestrained photocopying of any published material they borrow from the library while the librarians try to maintain seemingly dignified neutrality.

What therefore are the constraints to book publishing in the country? Is publishing a profitable venture in the face of several challenges? It is the need to find answers to these and some other issues that informed this study.

1.3      OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

This study has the following objectives:

1.   To find out the contributions of indigenous publishers to the development of the Nigerian economy.

2.   To find out the challenges facing the publishing industry in Nigeria.

3.   To find out the prospects available for the publishing industry in Nigeria.

1.4      RESEARCH QUESTIONS

In order to investigate the research problem, the following research questions were posed:

1.   What are the contributions of indigenous publishers to the development of the Nigerian economy?

2.   What are the challenges faced by the publishing industry in Nigeria?

3.   What are the prospects that are available for the publishing industry in Nigeria?

1.5      SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This work the problem of indigenous book publishing in Nigeria is of great importance as it seeks to find out the contributions of publishers to the development of the Nigerian economy and the prospects available in Nigeria.

This work would help Government and policy makers to make good decisions on the matters of book publishing in Nigeria, it would be important to academicians as it seeks to add to knowledge on book publishing in Nigeria.

1.6      SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

The study restricts itself to book publishing in Nigeria. It explored the challenges facing the industry and unveils the prospects available to the industry. The Staff of Literamed publications Nigeria limited, an indigenous publishing firm were studied. The study however did not cover digital or electronic book publishing in Nigeria.

1.7      DEFINITION OF TERMS

INDIGENOUS: originating or occurring naturally in a particular place rather than outside.

BOOK PUBLISHING: the act or process of issuing printed, reproduced, textual or graphical material to the public. When this materials are books then that is book publishing.

1.8      ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows;

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.


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