Selling Books in Africa

On the eve of a summit of francophone countries, which took place in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, several literary events were held throughout the capital. Le Monde‘s Christine Rousseau reports on the some of the difficulties facing booksellers in Africa.

Autre difficult, le prix du livre. Pour en prendre conscience, il suffisait de se promener dans les allees de la Foire internationale du livre de Ouagadougou o, malgr des remises de 20 %, les acheteurs taient rares. Meme Denis Pryen, directeur de L’Harmattan, qui proposait ses livres moitie prix, reconnaissait que cela ne suffisait pas, dans un pays o le salaire moyen est d’environ 53 mensuel. Pour Karim Ben Ismael des editions Ceres Tunis, “le grand chec de l’edition en Afrique, ce n’est pas l’edition mais la diffusion. Il y a une demande mais le probleme est d’arriver aux libraires”.

Prohibitive prices and inefficient distribution networks are two of the problems that were also cited about Arab publishing in several articles that appeared prior to the Frankfurt Book Fair (including, most notably Brian Whitaker’s piece in The Guardian)

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