Book industry staggers on

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
THE 2018 edition of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) is set to take place from September 24 to 29 in the capital, but all is not well for the book industry. Piracy is rampant and the reading culture is almost non-existent.

Even some literature students in institutions of higher learning are cheating their way through – extracting reviews and summarised versions of books from the internet for their academic studies.

One wonders if there is a way to resuscitate the sector.  “Over the past few years, activity has been low at the ZIBF as the reading culture in the country continues to decline. We are hard-hit by the economic climate affecting the country with people thin on resources. Most people are channelling their resources towards bread and butter issues as opposed to purchasing books,” said ZIBF chairperson Jasper Maenzanise.

“Foreign currency shortages to acquire inks, paper and other materials have caused the cost of publishing books to soar, thereby resulting in fewer books being produced for diverse readers.

“Furthermore, there has been a low uptake of curriculum approved published books by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education due to inadequate funding for the purchase of teaching and learning materials. This in turn adversely affects the book industry,” he revealed. Maenzanise noted that due to the fewer books being sold, royalties earned by authors have been affected.

“The book industry is making efforts to licence the major users of copyrighted works so that pirated books do not enter the education market. The current penalty fees levied on copyright offenders is not punitive enough to deter continued production of pirated books,” he highlighted.  The theme for ZIBF 2018 is “The Book: Creating the Future”.

“Our theme resonates well with the national development thrust, which is focusing on industrialisation, mechanisation and modernisation. It also echoes the Africa Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, which gives hopes to all people in Africa for creating a better and sustainable future for all,” explained Maenzanise.

Delegates from various African countries are expected to be part of ZIBF 2018.

“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education as a major stakeholder in the book industry will be one of our key speakers. Other keynote speakers will be invited to present on the notion of UNESCO’s Creative Cities with a view to establishing how books can be used to inspire and create the future we want in our nation, in Africa and the world at large.”As per tradition, ZIBF will start with the Indaba Conference that runs for two days, followed by the opening of the Book Fair to traders and the public.

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