By ELIZABETH UWANDU
The book industry has suffered a lot due to mirage of issues like decline in readership, censorship, royalty, and remuneration coupled with the piracy that seek to kill the effort of the authors.
It was as a result of the above reasons and more,that Nigeria authors under the umbrella of Association of Nigeria ANA on Friday, 14th May, 2016 gathered at Hall C, Multi-purpose hall, of University of Lagos for what it termed Authors’ Grove that seek ways of ameliorating the plights of authors at home and abroad.
In his opening remarks, Abdullahi Denja , chairman of the event raised some pertinent issues for discussion, like Authors’ and publishers relationship; issue of piracy, improvement of reading culture, recognition of authors internationally , the need for a functioning national book policy and the issue of marketing the works of authors which correlates with the theme of Authors’ Grove- “ Everyone feeds on the author but who feeds the author? A stakeholder summit on the creative industry.”
The event which is part of activities for 2016 Nigeria International Book Fair, had the presence of Prof. Kole Omotosho as special guest, ANA national president Denja Abdullahi as chairman, While Mr Sam Omotseye, Mrs Ruth Bature of National Library of Nigeria and Mrs Illusanmi Awele of Paddy Launch, and Dayo Alabi of The Book Company Limited; served as panels of the discussion.
Giving his speech, Prof. Omotosho appealed to Nigerian authors to focus more on their creative aspect of writing and leave the other activities to professionals. Adding that writers have become jack of all trade by writing, engaging in self publishing and even marketing their own works, a situation he said attributed to lack of quality works from Nigeria.
“A practical aspect of writing should be given to people who can do it. Not all authors can be like Ken- Saro Wiwa who painstakingly write, edit, and self publish to bring a good work. As writers, recognise your limitations and hand the rest to publishers,”he added.
Another key point the erudite Prof. touched was that of piracy that has bedivled the industry, an issue he urged writers to do something, else it will be a recurring event. “ Unless, we bring a new dimension to the business of communication, we can not stop communicating.”
On author and publisher relationship, Mr Alabi, a publisher, told the audience that distrust between an author and the publisher can be traced to the lost of reading culture occasioned by high cost of books and high cost of publishing in Nigeria that has resulted to self publishing.
Reacting to Alabi’s answer, Mr Omatseye said writers should move beyond mourning, rather they should seek ways of improvement. “I believe that authors should be a bit more proactive, as the relationship between authors and publishers has been over stated.”
On ways to improve reading culture in the country, the media practitioner advocated for a readers’ commune, a platform where people gather to read and review books of indigenous authors.