Former national president of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Dr. Wale Okediran, has appealed to the Federal Government to support the publishing industry with loan facilities, grants and other incentives to cushion the effects of the ongoing recession biting authors, publishers and stakeholders in the industry.
Okediran, who is also a former member of House of Representatives, made the plea while delivering the 50th-anniversary lecture of Evans Brothers (Nigeria Publishers Limited) held at Premier Hotel, Ibadan, advocated stiffer sanctions to be imposed on pirates to discourage the act.
The former ANA boss, who was represented by Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan (UI), Prof. Remi Raji-Oyelade, said with the ongoing recession, coupled with activities of pirates, government must provide incentives for the industry just like it does to the film industry, to enable it overcome the various challenges facing it.
While delivering his paper titled: ‘Prospects and Challenges of Publishing Business in the 21st Century,’ Okediran lamented the activities of pirates and called for the strengthening of copyright laws to protect intellectual property.
According to him, “It is not only the publishers that should be taken care of. We have argued it that even the authors should be taken care of as well as others. That is why I said that the publishing industry should be supported like the film industry; not just give it loans but grants. In western countries that we always use to compare ourselves, things are done in systematic ways. Loans, grants, and residencies are provided for the authors.
“People, who serve as publishers should also be encouraged for training and retraining, not just only at the conventional universities. It is a very humble recommendation in order for us to overcome the challenges facing the industry.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman, Board of Directors of the company, Otunba Adekunle Ojora, declared that the industry is struggling to remain profitable due to the recession and the incidence of piracy.
He said, “Piracy continues to be the scourge of the Nigerian publishing industry. The unauthorised use of copyrighted works is costing publishers billions of naira annually and creates significant harmful effects throughout the book chain, hurting distributors, retailers, authors and readers. In September 2016, 35 suspected pirates were arrested and 48,207 units of suspected pirated items, including literary works estimated at N39,020,300, were confiscated.
“Another challenge facing the industry is the rising cost of book production. The current downturn in the economy and the scarcity of foreign exchange has seriously affected the production of books.”
Ojora, however, maintained that the company, despite the challenges, was making great strides in all areas to position itself.
“The explosion of the internet in recent years may have sounded the death knell to the traditional paperback book,” he said. “The internet has changed the way the publishing industry does business. We are caught up in the e-book revolution whether we like it or not. Evans is making great strides in all areas and has positioned itself to key into this emerging market. Recently, we collaborated with Osun State Government by providing the e-book content in the Opon Imo tablet, distributed to its secondary schools as alternative platforms for paperback books. The Opon Imo was installed with software of lesson notes and textbooks on 17 subjects offered by students of secondary schools as well as past questions and answers of major examination boards.
“Also, Evans textbooks worth thousands of naira were donated to three public secondary schools located in Ibadan for their libraries.”
Evans’ Managing Director, Mr. Lukman Dauda, remarked that despite the challenges facing the industry, the company was making progress to serve its clients better, adding,
“We are aware that things are difficult in the country and we are praying that things get better. What we are doing at Evans is that we want people to know that despite the fact that things are difficult, we shall continue to serve the people.”
A highlight of the programme was the presentation of awards to winners of the company’s essay competition. Foursquare International Secondary School, Abeokuta, took the first position with Adesoye College, Offa, took second place, while All Souls High School, Bodija, Ibadan, came third.
Hardworking staff of the company and other personalities and corporate bodies were also rewarded.