How Africa’s Next Billion Internet Users Would Read Books – Saturday Magazine – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

The title of this article was inspired by Legible CEO, Kaleeg Hainsworth’s session at the London Book Fair in 2022, entitled: How the Next One Billion Internet Users Will Read Our Books. The world is undoubtedly changing rapidly and Africa is not left out in paradigm shifts in various industries.

The advent of the internet has created tremendous opportunities for both publishers and writers on the continent. According to a Statista report, “As of January 2022, Nigeria had more than 109 million internet users – the highest number reported in all of Africa.

Meanwhile, Egypt ranks second with over 75 million users. The majority of web traffic in leading digital markets in Africa came from mobile devices – in Nigeria, one of the countries with the largest number of internet users in the world, 82 percent of web traffic was generated via smartphones and about 16 percent via PC devices. This is partly because mobile connections are much cheaper and do not require the infrastructure needed for traditional desktop PCs with wired internet connections. reports

How can publishers, booksellers and writers take advantage of the opportunities available in the changing digital landscape?

For Jahman Anikulapo, a highly respected Nigerian journalist and culture archivist, this question has been around for years: “I think a change of tactics/strategies is needed by those in the literary value chain, especially publishers and distributors (booksellers and sellers etc.) They need to keep thinking about how to package literary material as popular goods, e.g. cola anise or burger ice cream literature.”

“There have been some good experiments done through flash prose, audiobooks, kindling, etc., but I’m not sure how much mileage has been put into penetrating the demographics of those giant internet users – the young ones. Literary events such as live lectures, festivals, book tours, etc. can only serve as extension services for the reworked distribution strategies. Literature (books, magazines, magazines, etc.) deserves its own Netflix or Amazon-like outlets. I have no idea how this can be achieved as it interferes with mercantilism, which contradicts my kind of art,”

According to leading Nigerian visual artist, writer and photographer, Victor Ehikhamenor, publishers have more to do and can also jump on what the West is already doing: “First you serialize longer fiction into almost bite-sized chunks. See how works can be easily accessed on handheld devices. Audiobooks should not be ignored; Publishers have to respond to that. Short stories and poems can be turned into interesting memes”

For Adedotun Eyinade, co-founder of the Nigerian bookstore chain Roving Heights: “The growing internet penetration in Africa offers publishers and writers a new opportunity to reach hitherto unreached readers who are alienated from reading due to a cocktail of factors, notably low purchasing power and a dysfunctional book value chain.”

According to Eyinade, “For a continent with a youthful, social media savvy population, the fastest way to satisfy the desires of this demographic is to create stories and content that can be distributed through digital platforms accessible via mobile phones.

New forms of storytelling, digital books, audiobooks, among others, are new platforms that are becoming increasingly popular, and publishers should be open to exploring how these media can enrich their craft. We are now seeing how social media platforms are helping to reach a new swathe of readers.

Tit Tok, for example, is a powerful medium that fuels the rise of genres like Romance and Young Adult. Western publishers pay a lot of attention to the social media platform and go with the wave to sell books in volumes. Social media can at the same time be a way to experiment with new forms and an impulse for what the market wants to read. Writers and publishers will better understand how to leverage these platforms to increase their influence.”

Senior marketing expert Elvis Daniel believes that social media and the internet offer publishers the opportunity to reach and connect with a wider audience, as well as increase the consumption of their work.

“Writers can increase their online visibility and reach a wider audience through digital subscription platforms such as medium or substack where readers can sign up to receive periodic newsletters or articles. Building a social media presence/followers will also boost their digital subscription growth.

“Second, it provides an opportunity to provide feedback to writers and publishers, as people can comment on articles or comment pieces in blogs and online sites or make comments on any social media platform exposed to the articles.

Audience Preference Identification: Social media allows publishers to identify consumers’ favorite types of pieces based on the types of engagement and traction each material receives; moreover, it helps to identify the audience that each material will appeal to.”

Daniel further explains, “Online platforms and the internet enable consumers to identify the publishers and appreciate their creativity and literary knowledge, lending credibility and thought leadership opportunities to the writer/publisher. Records for Research Articles: Online platforms can serve as a platform to reference past articles from publishers for research and project work, ensuring that content is always relevant to consumers.

Publishers and writers can also create digital versions of their publications to reach new younger readers who are online and use social media platforms such as TikTok or influencer marketing to increase visibility, engage with their audience and drive sales . For example ‘Booktok’, a popular community on TikTok where creators review and discuss trending books.”

Truly, the opportunities in the African market are huge, especially with greater potential of digital and mobile access and a fast and growing population.

Abby Ogunsanya is a book lover, rare book collector and part-time bookseller who has been buying books for decades and now has quite an extensive library of a wide variety of genres. Abby is also a collector of rare books on African literature and rare dictionaries on the Yoruba language. She became a bookseller when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and now has an online store where she sells rare and modern autographed and limited edition books.

According to Abby: “One thing is clear: the internet and social media in particular play a very important role in the industry. As a marketing tool to disseminate information about industry news, upcoming publications and events, digital media play a prominent role. With the advent of social media and the growing influence of social media influencers who review books on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, publishers are actively working with them to create buzz for their titles among the public.

“A key area where publishers and booksellers can take advantage of internet penetration and even social media is pre-publicity and monetization from online pre-orders for upcoming releases. Titles by established authors can often sell thousands of copies for publication and some, such as Atlas Six and Heartstopper, were championed on Tik-Tok, helping them secure massive presales.”

Article was published in African Opinions

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