Evans Publishers CEO, Lukman Dauda
Dauda

OBINNA EZUGWU

Managing Director of Evans Brothers Nigeria Publishers Limited, Mr. Lukman Dauda, has called on booksellers in the country to work together with a view to tackling the current trend of publishers selling books directly to end users, which according to him, has adversely affected book trade.

Mr. Lukman who made the call while presenting the print edition of the Nigerian Booksellers Directory 2021 at the Nigerian International Book Fair in Lagos on Thursday, regretted that with the advent of private schools, publishers now enter into deals directly with schools as opposed to reaching them through booksellers as was originally the case.

According to him, “With the advent of private schools, booksellers have been sidelined. Publishers now go directly to schools and other end users. This has affected the book trade.

“Booksellers should try to put a stop to it. We should speak with one voice and insist on the original arrangement of publishers coming to booksellers and booksellers going to schools.”

While calling on publishers to end the practice of selling to end users and return to the original of pattern of reaching end users through booksellers, Dauda equally tasked booksellers to do more to encourage publishers by always remitting funds to them as at when due.

He emphasised that publishing is a capital intensive venture, and when booksellers fail to remit funds to publishers, it adversely affects their business.

He said, “Booksellers should also pity publishers by remitting proceeds from sales to publishers. Sellers and publishers are partners and it should remain so.”

Mr. Dauda also decried the prevalence of book piracy in the country, noting that it has remained a huge challenge to the sector.

He called on the Booksellers Association of Nigeria (BAN) to develop a mechanism for punishing booksellers who sell pirated books as a way of curbing the menace.

Earlier in his welcome address, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, President of Booksellers Association of Nigeria, who alongside Mr. Richard Mammah, compiled the Directory, noted that its publication was informed by the need to know those involved in book selling in Nigeria.

“When we assumed the leadership of the Booksellers in Nigeria two years ago, a challenge that we faced was to not only how to go out there to know more and more of our members and bring them into the fold, but to also begin to place our finger on what the statistics were concerning the overall size and worth of the composite bookselling complex in Nigeria,” he said.

Oluwatuyi described the Directory as “An important piece of documentation. Given its potential for aggregation, it stood out as one way of beginning to address these issues. And so for us therefore, it soon became one of the first things to do. And I am glad that we have it to present to you today.”

The book reviewer, Dr. Olayinka Oyegbile, journalism, media and culture studies expert, in his review, noted that the Directory answers the question as to where to go and buy books to avoid pirates.

He said the compilers did a commendable job, given the paucity of data in the country. According to him, “BAN has done a great service to the book industry. The directory has given information on booksellers and Nigerians now know where to and buy non pirated books.

“The directory should be made available to all educational institutions and libraries, because it has information.”

He praised the Directory for being well-written, noting that he could not find any grammatical or typographical error in it, but noted that it’s not comprehensive enough and can be improved upon.

Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Lanre Damion Adesuyi, CEO of Havilah Group, in his address, said the 2021 Directory stands out out as a very significant improvement over all previous publications.

“This quality of detailed publication though long overdue, has come at the most auspicious time in the history of the book trade in Nigeria, being an invaluable resource publication to give booksellers a strategic sense of belonging because of their roles in the book value chain,” he said.

“Although this is not an occasion to trace the history of bookselling in Nigeria, it is apt to state that the success of actors in this segment of the book chain is anchored on the tenacity of Booksellers who against all odds remain dogged to keep the book alive and meet the yearnings of the reading public for knowledge, which is crucial for national development. Obviously, without the booksellers littered in the nooks and crannies of our vast country, it would have been somehow impossible to get the books.”

Also speaking, Mr. John Asein, Director General of Nigeria Copyright Commission, while commending BAN and Mr. Oluwatuyi for a job well-done, noted that booksellers needed to do more.

He called on BAN to register with the NIPC and develop an action plan to use the directory to make life unbearable for pirates in the country.