Mixed feelings over Byo Book Fair

BULAWAYO - Stakeholders in the book sector in Bulawayo are divided on the two-day Bulawayo Book Fair which took place at the Large City Hall last week.

The Bulawayo edition of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair took place from March 28 to 29 under the theme “Indigenous Languages, Literature, Art and Knowledge Systems of Africa”.

Amabooks director Jane Morris described the just-ended event as a positive one.

“Business on the last day (Saturday) was low compared to the first day,” said Morris.

“In terms of buying, it looks like people do not have disposable income perhaps due to economic challenges.”

“All the same people came in and most of them were really surprised that we have books by local writers.”

Morris said it was up to the Zimbabwean community to come together and promote the reading culture that has died down in a big way over the years.

Pathisa Nyathi, a prominent author and director of Amagugu Publishers, also praised the event.

“The event went well. The aim is to give publicity to our books that are on the market.”

“I am happy that I have seen a lot of children coming here which is important because they are the future consumers,” said the veteran author.

While a considerable number of exhibitors gave thumps up to the book fair, there were many who felt that the organisation and planning of the annual event was not up to scratch.

Zifiso Ndlovu of Glamsol Books lamented the low sales that characterised the book fair.

“The turnout was a bit fine. We had a lot of inquiries but very low sales. I should however highlight that the event was not well advertised.”

“ I only got to register at the last minute,” he said.

One publisher who chose to remain anonymous criticised the organisers for inadequate publicity of the event.

“`The organisers did not do much in terms of advertising and reaching out to the real intended market.”

“Due to poor publicity, the book fair was dominated by kids who were not even in the company of their teachers,” he said.

Intwasa director, Raisedon Baya attributed the poor turnout and low sales volumes of the book fair to the failure by the organisers to decentralise power. “We cannot have people from Harare do everything as if there are no people here,” Baya said.

The Intwasa director said a committee comprising Bulawayo-based book stakeholders was needed to oversee the organisation of the event.

“If the ZIBF board is serious about genuine decentralisation it has to empower booksellers, publishers and writers at local level.

“We need local players because we cannot have inquiries being made in Harare for something that’s going to happen in Bulawayo,” he added.

Comments (2)

low sales because of pathetic publicity. we did not know it was on so we did not buy

wordwriter - 3 April 2014

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