Publishing, Books and Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Bibliography

Article excerpt

Publishing, Books and Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa: a critical bibliography, by Hans M. Zell. Lochcarron: Hans Zell, 2008. xlix + 712 pp. ISBN 13: 9780954102951. £130, print and online, online access bundled with print.

Hans Zell's book, Publishing, Booh and Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa, stands out in any library, even on a crowded book shelf, because of its obvious rarity. This uncommon work, in its third innovative edition, is actually a compendium of virtually all that anyone has written and published on the subject of book publishing and readership on the African continent, south of the Sahara. And Hans Zell has presented it like a travelogue, a scholarly tourist's account of his experiences journeying through the book development trails of sub-Saharan Africa.

Generally, the book serves the primary purpose of making available a ready and one-spot reference book on any type of reading material that has to do with the state of the book industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The book is divided into five main sections:

The first section, pages 47 - 71, looks at Serials and Reference on the African book trade, including professional journals, bibliographies, collective online catalogue databases; directories of publishers and book trade reference books. Section two (pages 77-124) headed, General, Comparative, and Regional Studies, takes a general look at published essays and books on the state of publishing in developing countries and with particular attention to each of the East, West, Southern and Francophone African regions. The third section (pages 139 - 332) is a closer look at the book and publishing output of individual African countries as well as the state of readership; while the fourth section (pages 337 - 630) entitled Studies by Topic, as the name implies, is a topical study of the many fora, organs and general issues appertaining to the healthy progress of book publishing and the book trade in Africa. This includes, for example, such issues as the ease of acquisition of African published materials, African books in the international market, book fairs and book marketing and promotion, publishing for children, Christian books publishing, as well as gender-sensitive publishing. It also surveys the strengths and the contributions of book prize award organisations and donor agencies, libraries, reading culture and reading promotion, etc, towards the development of the book industry in sub-Saharan Africa. In the fifth and last section (pages 646 - 664) the author concludes this somewhat adventurous study by taking a look at what training facilities are available for the trainee African publisher, especially as spearheaded by the African Publishers Network (APNET) and the African Publishing Institute. …