A renowned poet, Mr Odia Ofeimun has said schools are at the receiving end of the distress in the book business.
Odia who was speaking on the World Book Day which holds today, told The PUNCH that the book world was in a bad stage in Nigeria.
Today is the 25th edition of World Book Day with the title, ‘Share A Story’.
Ofeimun added that the distress in the book world was not as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which shut down global activities, but due to high cost of printing materials and unaffordability of books.
“The book world is in a bad stage in Nigeria. It is not only COVID-19 that is holding the book world down, the book world has been very much down before COVID-19. Schools are in trouble generally because this is where the business of bookselling starts. People do not buy books, when I was a student I could afford to buy books even as an indigent student, but these days, books are too expensive. On World Book Day, what we should be thinking is how to make books available to a wider audience and how to ensure that those who write books are properly protected because at the end of the day, when people do not feel that their profession is protected their commitment to it is also reduced.”
He added that book stores and especially universities bookshops which always had several books from writers around the world no longer had such again.
“I will say one good way to know how book world is fairing is to go round all the book shops in Nigeria. The universities’ bookshops used to be buoyant places to be you can at least see the kind of books that are around in the world. These days, bookshops are no longer buoyant as they use to be. One of the most painful things is that you can no longer find the books of all the authors you hear about in Nigeria when you enter bookstores. To make matters worse, pirates have taken over the market, making it difficult for publishers and writers to make the best of their trade. I am not sure pirates are doing well under the pandemic. Whenever books are doing well, the pirates always do better than those who are supposed to be the owners of the trade.
“There used to be talks about bend-down bookstores across Lagos, when you go to those places they are no longer there, they are simply not there anymore. It is all begin to the fact that people no longer buy books as they used to.
“Books are getting expensive and are not rising high enough to catch up with the rate of inflation. Cost of paper is rising,” he said.
According to an online publication, the World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day, is celebrated across the globe on April 23 every year. It is celebrated to recognise and promote the benefit of reading books, publishing and copyright. World Book Day is organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
April 23 is observed as World Book Day because several prominent authors were either born or have died on this day. While William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Josep Pla died on April 23, Manuel Mejia Vallejo and Maurice Druon were born on April 23.