• Table of contents

    • [+]Preliminaries (3)
    • [+]Introduction (4)
    • [+]Latin America (13)
    • [—]Sub-Saharan Africa (9)
    • [+]Arab World (11)
    • [+]Russia (11)
    • [+]India (11)
    • [+]China (9)
    • [+]Conclusions (6)
    • [+]Appendix (1)

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

Between the digital and the analogue: experiences with CD ROM and print on demand

Founded in 2008, the publishing house Nouvelles Éditions Numériques Africaines (NENA) bases its business model on marketing electronic books on CD ROM. From its headquarters in Dakar, this company compiles law books in PDF format – with DRM – which it sells in Senegal and Cameroon. Each one of these books contains thousands of pages and comes with hyperlinks and other interactive tools.

Marc-André Ledoux, the head of NENA, has a very strong opinion about the projects imposed on Africa from outside without taking into account the particular conditions of the local context:

In the field of African publishing, international cooperation projects and NGOs only complicate matters, every time they give assistance for a set period to publications that are ‘orphaned’ once this time is up, and left without monitoring or marketing (…). The essential thing is for African publishers to persevere and produce (…). To tell the truth, the key to development in Africa, in my opinion – which is shared by many others – depends on the creation and growth of viable and sustainable small and medium enterprises.[1]

Acknowledgement of the specific possibilities of the region has led some publishers to also explore the POD option. Electric Book Works will soon launch Paperight, a platform that promises to transform any computer with a printer and Internet connection into an on-demand store. In this way, it will be possible to buy books at the local photocopying centre and pay for the cost of printing along with a small amount corresponding to the copyright and publisher’s rights. According to Arthur Attwell:

There may be other ways of harnessing digital as well that will include distributing e-books through libraries and Internet cafés, kiosks, any infrastructure that doesn’t require someone to be spending a lot of money on a device. I think print-on-demand has got a massive future for Africa, and developing countries in general, because of the way it caters to people with low cash flow and who just need a book right now; they can’t afford to get an e-reader or even a netbook computer to read books in the long term.[2]

Another independent South African publisher, Jacana Media, will soon have an Espresso Book Machine, for printing book on demand locally. The machine will allow them to reduce distribution costs and replace the prevailing business model – produce first, sell later – with another, inverted, model – sell first, produce later.

The progress made by POD in South Africa has opened the doors to self-publishing ventures like MouseHand. Part of the publishing company RedHill, it offers authors services including interior and book cover design and proofreading as well as – most importantly – the possibility of marketing their books printed on demand or in electronic format, through portals like Amazon and Kalahari.

  1. Personal interview, January 2011.
  2. Cf. Turner, James: “Bringing e-Books to Africa and the Middle East”, O’Reilly Radar, 19th January, 2010.
Sub-Saharan Africa

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