International Insights for Indie Authors: Africa

For the next edition of the Alliance of Independent Authors International Insights hosted by Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard, were ending up the local spotlights. For part 7 of our intro to the international book markets we have Africa in our sights, settling a series of posts that have taken a look at the essential India and China markets in Asia, the Middle East North Africa markets, the Ibero-America markets, the Asia-Pacific markets and the European markets, and also a scandal sheet on the English-language markets. This is global insights for indie authors: Africa

Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard

Im composing this from The Gambia, West Africa, one of the poorest countries on earth, so first-hand experience. When I moved here 10 years ago I needed to make daily trips to the tourist hotels to use a web café with a dial-up-speed connection simply to get online.

Digital books? Only through the global United States store where most titles are not available (territorial constraints) and anyway you require a credit card to pay. A lot of individuals here are unbanked.

Naturally Africa was left up until last because theres not much to state. As all of us know, Africans do not check out, there are no bookstores, the internet hasnt arrived yet, and this is going be the fastest post ever. And yes, all the above is real. When its not, other than. Let me explain.

Book shops? Then in this nation I can count the book shops deserving of the name on one … finger, if we discount instructional suppliers for schools and colleges. Seriously. Its not that individuals do not check out (theres a successful gray-market in utilized books the tourists leave) a lot that there are so few books available. When checking out product is an endangered species, its difficult to develop a reading routine.

10 years on and little has actually changed other than now I have 4G web (on a great day if the wind is in the best direction and the gods more than happy), I can view Amazon Video, Netflix and other video streaming services, I can utilize social networks, etc, however theres still no Kindle, Apple Books or Google Play Books for local individuals. And Im one of just 442,000 people in the whole country that are online. Internet penetration here is at simply 18.3%.

There are a handful of digital chances available today to us. By way of example, Exclusives (supplied by Kobo), Takealot and AudioShelf in South Africa, OkadaBooks in Nigeria and AkooBooks Audio in Ghana. There are any number of little digital gamers emerging throughout the continent, and Storytel has actually devoted to a Middle East North Africa center which will embrace several of the North African markets as it constructs.

Much for Africans not reading. But do they check out digital books? Where are all these half billion internet users if they are not in The Gambia? Well. Angola, Cameroon, D.R. Congo, Libya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe all have more individuals online than New Zealand or Ireland, both vibrant digital book markets.

Okay, so when will Africa deserve us indies troubling with? When will the web in Africa catch up with the remainder of the world? How about … now. Now. Because that 38.3% penetration corresponds already, in August 2020, to Africa having over a half billion individuals online. 526 million as this year began. And yes that does mean there are more people online in Africa than in the United States. 252 million more!

Africas a big place. Oh, and Africa has a population of 1.3 billion people, all of whom might be reading our ebooks if only the web would show up. Right now Africas internet penetration throughout the continent is at just 38.3%.

Penguin Random House South Africa has its own ebook store. OverDrive provides the Kigali National Library in Rwanda, and Odilo has just this week introduced a library app in Zimbabwe.

Travel to South Africa and youll discover book shops on par in quality, if not size, with the finest in Europe or the USA. Numerous African countries have fantastic bookstores, make no error.

Its the exact same with book fairs. Some African nations barely have book fairs deserving of the name. Others have … well, lets just say that not just are some of the biggest book fairs in the world in Africa, however one of those is THE greatest.

So yeah, Africa is a lost cause. Next!

Moroccos Casablanca International Book Fair frequently draws in over a half a million booklovers each year. The Algiers International Book Fair (unsurprisingly in Algeria) disappointed in 2019 when it brought in “just” 1.1 million visitors. In 2018 2.3 million people went to the event. Both these events combined dont match the Cairo International Book Fair in Egypt, which is the biggest literary on the planet, and in 2020 drew a crowd of 3.5 million.

South Africa has as many people online as Canada. Kenya with 46.8 million individuals online and Egypt with 49 million are both larger in internet terms than Spain, which has just 42.9 million people online.

Digital books? Not so much. As already kept in mind, the huge western ebook and audiobook gamers we indies consider approved have yet to wake up to the Africa chance, and unfortunately our regular coterie of aggregators are behind the curve too. But expect that to alter as this decade unfolds. A market of half a billion web users is not to be gently disregarded.

And after that theres Nigeria, which with 126 million web users has practically three times as many individuals online as Spain, actually twice as numerous as the UK, and is way ahead of Germany, Japan and Russia, can be found in as the 6th largest country in the world by web users. So yes, the web has actually reached Africa.

And after that theres YouScribe, the Paris-based aggregator and merchant that has actually shaken the global publishing neighborhood by not just launching a digital subscription service in francophone Africa but by selecting up a half million subscribers. So yes, the web is here, digital books are here, and felt confident Ill come back on all this in future posts, with indie-relevant information. But for now just to state that, as digital-first indies we need to see Africa as an exciting if difficult opportunity, and seek to check out every chance to get a foothold now in among the least-competitive and fastest growing book markets on earth.

You see, Africa is a continent of contradictions. Google Play Books has just 2 localised ebook stores (Egypt and South Africa) across a continent of over 50 nations.

And heres an idea to be going on with:

Online fairs and celebrations are a simple way for indies throughout the world to enjoy, sign up with in and get in touch with the reading public in these nations, from the comfort of our own desk. For all the damage, suffering and suffering the Covid-19 pandemic has actually wrought, one silver lining to this dark global cloud has actually been to require global publishing online in such a way that was quite inconceivable as this year started.

There are any number of little digital gamers cropping up throughout the continent, and Storytel has actually committed to a Middle East North Africa center which will embrace numerous of the North African markets as it constructs.

At the end of October the Algiers International Book Fair will be held online as the pandemic devastations that nation. And in September the Nigeria International Book Fair likewise heads online.

Book fairs and festivals in far-flung lands that many of us would never offer a doubt to as in-person occasions since of the costs and impracticalities of being there are all of a sudden golden opportunities to reveal simply how internationalist we truly are. Algeria and Nigeria right here in Africa are fantastic places to begin, however as Ill reveal in future posts, these are just the suggestion of the iceberg of global opportunity drifting past us right now.

For part 7 of our introduction to the worldwide book markets we have Africa in our sights, rounding off a series of posts that have actually looked at the key India and China markets in Asia, the Middle East North Africa markets, the Ibero-America markets, the Asia-Pacific markets and the European markets, and also a special edition on the English-language markets. Oh, and Africa has a population of 1.3 billion individuals, all of whom might be reading our ebooks if only the web would get here. Others have … well, lets simply say that not only are some of the most significant book fairs in the world in Africa, but one of those is THE biggest.

The international book market. Its so much bigger than we think.

For now just to say that, as digital-first indies we ought to see Africa as an interesting if difficult opportunity, and look to explore every opportunity to get a grip now in one of the least-competitive and fastest growing book markets on the planet.

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