Preface  Introduction  Contents

Preface to the print edition

The content and focus of this reference resource, the previous edition of which was published in 1996 under the title Publishing and Book Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Annotated Bibliography, has been very substantially recast in several ways. The new edition has a new title and sub-title and, as the sub-title suggests, annotations and abstracts, particularly of recent literature, are now more evaluative on the whole. Much greater emphasis is placed on the relative significance of the material included, thus offering a more critical dimension in reviewing the available literature on the topic. 

The new edition contains 2,517 for the most part extensively annotated entries, of which 1,612 are entirely new entries.

The change in title reflects the fact that the bibliography includes a very large number of citations on complementary aspects of publishing and the "book chain" in Africa. While not every related aspect has been covered in great depth - for example that of reading and the promotion of a reading culture - an attempt has been made to cite the key literature on each topic. Some other areas relating to books and information provision in Africa, for example the vital role of library services, continue to be excluded as the literature on these topics is already covered in other bibliographic sources.

In order to free up space this new edition covers primarily material published over the last two and a half decades, although some literature published earlier has been retained because of its historical importance. The previous edition included over 2,200 entries, but quite a large proportion of the literature cited was perhaps of a more peripheral nature, and/or is now very dated, and has been dropped for this edition. In many sections this amounted to more than half of the entries in the previous edition. However, a number of these earlier citations may still be of value to researchers, and they can continue be consulted in libraries holding a copy of the 1996 edition. 

The previous edition also listed a sizeable number of unpublished papers from conferences and workshops. These were originally meant to become available through the African Publishers' Network/APNET (5) as part of a document delivery service, but unfortunately this never materialized, and they have now been omitted from this edition.

In this new edition annotations offer more qualitative judgements and attention is drawn to particularly important contributions to the literature for a range of entries which, arguably, might be considered to be among the most significant - and in some cases seminal - contributions to the literature on publishing and book development in Africa. They therefore merit the special attention of students and scholars undertaking research on publishing and the book sector in Africa. 

Annotations are often quite extensive (some up to 300 words or more), particularly those for recent literature. Annotations of such length might be considered somewhat excessive but, together, they are intended to provide a critical narrative, or a kind of synthesis, of past and current thinking on the growth and development of indigenous publishing, and the promotion of books and reading on the continent. Quoted passages from the articles are frequently included to provide extra insights. 

Several of the annotations of book titles and edited collections are based on critical reviews that have appeared in the "Professional reading" columns of the African Book Publishing Record (168) over the last two decades.

Contents and arrangement of the bibliography has also been reorganized to some extent; a few topic-specific sections have been dropped (e.g. those on manufacturing, and on the pulp and paper industries) or merged with others, while a number of entirely new topic headings have been added, for example African books in the international market place, Open access publishing, and Women in African publishing/Publishing by and for women. New and expanded sections on digital media and electronic publishing reflect the recent dramatic changes in the scholarly communications environment, the growth of the Internet in Africa, and new printing technologies that are now available to the African book professions. 

Listings for each country in Section 3 are now part directory and part bibliography. The directories of African book professional and allied associations that precede each country section have been fully updated, as have been the listings of organizations and agencies elsewhere supporting publishing and the book and information sector in Africa. They include full address details, telephone and fax numbers, contact information, email addresses, and Web sites for most of them. All directory-type entries will be kept current, as far as is possible, by regular updates in the online edition.

Each country section in this new edition now also includes listings of national bibliographies and full details are provided for all those sub-Saharan African countries that produce national bibliographies at this time. However, in many countries where national bibliographies exist they are currently dormant or seriously in arrear in their publication schedule, some by several years, or even decades. On the other hand, one welcome development is the fact that a small number of African national bibliographies are now available online. 

Online resources
When the previous edition was published in 1996, barely a handful of articles were available in electronic formats, but the picture has now changed dramatically. Almost 500 articles, reports, presentations, surveys, e-theses, and other documents cited in this new edition are now available online (the majority of them freely accessible), which has merited publication of this new edition both in print format and as a searchable electronic version. Access to the online version is bundled with purchase of the print edition. Providing the online resource as an integral part of the print version of the bibliography allows multiple users to access its contents concurrently, and from a place of their own choosing.

Several articles originally published in print format only have, through the initiative of the authors of these articles, now become available online, while UNESCO (118) has recently digitized some of their early mission reports and other documents on publishing and book development in Africa, now offering them freely available in electronic formats.

Two particularly valuable online archives containing a wide range of articles, reports, views and perspectives on publishing and the book in Africa are the Bellagio Publishing Network Newsletter (155), and the papers and reports of seminar presentations hosted by the Southern African Book Development Education Trust/SABDET (113), and offered freely accessible on its Web site. 

Another welcome new development is that all back issues of the journal Logos. Forum for the World Book Community (160) (formerly Logos. The Journal of the World Book Community) are now accessible online (access to the archives requires a subscription, or articles can be purchased for a modest document delivery fee). The Logos archive currently consists of almost 700 articles, including over thirty on publishing and the book trade in Africa, and it is an enormously rich resource. 

A number of documents, reports, and major surveys now available online consist of pdf files of some size, up to 7-8MB, and which could be time-consuming to download for those without access to broadband connections, especially those in Africa. Accordingly, file sizes are indicated for online documents that are larger than 2.5MB.

References to book reviews
As another new feature in this edition, references to select reviews of some of the book titles and edited collections are now included, some of them accessible online.

Expanded index
In addition to an author index, this new edition contains an improved and much expanded subject and geographical index, as well as an index of organizations and associations.

Access to the literature
This new edition cites literature from a total of 256 serial publications, as well as many books and monographs, edited collections, book sector studies and reports, presentations, theses, and training guides and manuals. Much of the material should be accessible in major academic libraries, especially those with substantial Africana collections. 

However, access to articles that have appeared in a number of African book trade journals may be more problematic, as few of them are held in academic libraries in the countries of the North. Complete or near-complete runs of many African books trade serials are held by the African Publishers Network/APNET (5), as part of an archival collection of journals, articles, books, reports and other material, covering 35 years of African publishing and book development (1960-1995), donated by this writer to APNET's Research & Documentation Centre in 1996. It should be noted however that, as at May 2008, APNET's Research & Documentation Centre is not currently operational, and the collection is still held in storage following APNET's relocation to Accra. The collection's future status is uncertain at this time, but it may be moved to a new home at an African university institution, where it will be fully catalogued and will then become accessible again. It is also possible that some of the material held may then become available in digitized format.

Introductory essay
Thirty-five years ago, in December 1973, the University of Ife in Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University) hosted a major conference on publishing and book development in Africa, and subsequently published the proceedings of that conference, in which 

conference participants reconfirmed their belief that books are an indispensable cornerstone in education and that a nation's book industry must be considered an essential industry in terms of national development planning.

In his wide-ranging introductory essay, "African Publishing: From Ile-Ife to the Present", Henry Chakava, Chairman of East African Educational Publishers in Nairobi, provides a succinct state of the art analysis of the African book industry today, exploring most of the key issues from a historical perspective. He reviews progress since the historic Ife conference, and offers a candid assessment of the present state of publishing, books, and writing and reading in the countries of Africa south of the Sahara, highlighting the most significant problems and constraints that remain, and identifying the challenges that lie ahead.

It is entirely fitting that Henry Chakava should contribute this introductory retrospective, as he is widely recognized as one of the continent's most innovative and enterprising publisher, and has amassed a wealth of experience during a lifetime devoted to strengthening the indigenous book industries in Africa. He is one of the most prolific authors of articles and studies on many aspects of the state of the book in Africa, and has been the recipient of several awards and honours. In 2000 he received the inaugural Zimbabwe International Book Fair Award for his "life-long contribution to the African book industry". In 2005 Oxford Brookes University conferred him with an honorary doctorate of literature, and in 2007 the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development (104) in the Netherlands awarded him the Prince Claus Award to honour his lifetime's work in developing African publishing, for nurturing and promoting writers in a difficult context, and "for his major contribution to intellectual and cultural development in East Africa."

Future editions of the bibliography
This ongoing bibliographic project to record and analyze the literature on publishing and book development in sub-Saharan Africa started with the publication of the earliest version of the bibliography, published as part of UNESCO's "Studies on Books and Reading Series" in 1984. It was followed by the predecessor of the current volume, published in 1996.

Following publication of this latest and now substantially recast version, I should perhaps signal that it is not my intention to produce further editions of the bibliography on my own. However, it is vital that research and documentation on the African book industries, and on all aspects of the "book chain" in Africa, will continue. It is my hope that an African book development organization, or a library at an academic institution in Africa, will be able to take over the work, and will systematically seek to collect and analyze new material, eventually leading to a new, revised and fully updated edition of the bibliography sometime in the years ahead. 

There are a number of book professionals and academics that have written prolifically on many aspects of publishing and book development in Africa, and all these were approached individually requesting up-to-date lists of their publications, published in print or online formats. Not all of them responded, but I am grateful to those who did: 
Sulaiman Adebowale, Bodunde Bankole, Paul Brickhill, Henry Chakava, Chris Chirwa, Richard Crabbe, Woeli Dekutsey, Eve Gray, Jay Heale, Colleen Higgs, Jacob Jaygbay, Jane Katjavivi, Ruth Makotsi, Viviana Quinones, Ian Montagnes, Francis Nymanjoh, Akoss Ofori-Mensah, Ayo Ojeniyi, Peter Reiner, Diana Rosenberg, Monica Seeber, Irene Staunton, Christine Stilwell, and Damtew Teferra.

I am also indebted to African book trade associations who updated and verified their entries in the directory sections of this bibliography and, in particular, to the Nigerian Book Fair Trust, the Nigerian Publishers Association, the Publishers Association of South Africa, and the South African Booksellers Association, who provided copies of back issues of their trade journals or other publications.

For assistance in the development of the electronic version of the bibliography I wish to acknowledge the help and expertise provided by Sue Martin of Smart Internet Services, Helston, Cornwall.

Hans M. Zell
Lochcarron, Wester Ross, Scotland
May 2008

Publishing, Books & Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa Cover Image


[T/A Hans Zell Publishing Consultants]

Glais Bheinn   Lochcarron   
Ross-shire   IV54 8YB Scotland   UK

Telephone: +44-(0)1520-722951   
Email: Web:
© 2001-2015

2008-2014 Hans Zell Publishing Consultants

web design & hosting by