Publishers worry over drop in book sales

Centum Group CEO James Mworia (seated right) with Iranian Ambassador to Kenya Hadi Farajvand join pupils of Makini Junior Academy as they participate in some colouring activities during the International Book Fair at the Sarit Center Expo Hall on September 28, 2017. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Publishers have said book sales have dropped in the last two years.

Kenya Publishers’ Association (KPA) Chairman Lawrence Njagi said Thursday the drop has been witnessed despite the growth in the national publishing industry.

He said the industry has grown exponentially since 1972 when it was controlled by multinational companies from the United Kingdom, US and India and is now run by local publishing houses.

But the industry has been faced with challenges recently, which has led to decline in sales.


“We have not had a very good time the last two years in terms of book sales. The books are not reaching schools,” said Mr Njagi.

The KPA Chairman brought up numerous challenges that the publishing industry faces.

He said books from publishers are not reaching schools because of piracy and Value Added Tax charged on books.

“The minute we charge tax on books, it means the books become expensive. We all want to pay tax, but you cannot tax information...It is the poor who cannot afford it,” he said.

Mr Njagi also warned against going back to a ‘one book policy,’ an idea the government put forward earlier this year.

He was speaking Thursday during the International Book Fair at Sarit Centre in Nairobi.


The event attracted 78 exhibitors and is ranked second largest of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, following Cape Town.

Also in attendance at the opening of the book fair were Centum Investments CEO James Mworia and Iranian Ambassador to Kenya Hadi Farajvand.

Mr Mworia pledged to partner with KPA to fund a literary prize for digital works, which would be awarded beginning next year.

He said online literature is important because the digital sphere is “where the country is headed.”

Speaking at the event, Ms Mary Maina, the KPA Council Member said the book fair will help promote unity in Kenya.

“While our passionate participation in this important process is a commendable show of our people's commitment to democracy, it needs to be carried out in such a way that it will leave the country stronger and united,” Ms Maina said.


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