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Publishing, Books & Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Bibliography - New revised 3rd edition

(print & online, published October 2008)

"… a work of extraordinary breadth and significance. It represents the culmination of decades of passion for and commitment to publishing and book development in Africa on the part of Hans M. Zell. … an outstanding compilation of all the sources scholars, practitioners and students would need for any aspect of the topic. It provides sources to scholars and students in a wide range of African studies disciplines, journalism, library development, international librarianship and history of publishing and the book, as well as for the more practical uses of those in producing, publishing and marketing for African audiences. … More than anyone else, Hans M. Zell has for over 40 years shown unwavering commitment and devotion to the cause of book publishing and development in Africa. Through these years he has created for us a broad range of publications providing access to information about African publishing and book development as well as to Africa-related information. This work is among his finest and should be considered the ultimate resource on the topic."

World Libraries

"Thoroughly reworked and expanded from the second edition, with over half the 2,517 entries consisting of new material in both paper and free-access electronic formats … retains its place as an indispensable volume on the literature of African publishing, literacy, and the continent's book trade. … this work will remain basic to history, journalism, literature, librarianship, and African studies for the foreseeable future. … Essential."


"Most of the entries are annotated. For this new edition the publisher has changed the reviews from being strictly annotations to instead critical analyses of each work. … Perhaps the biggest change to this new edition is its availability in electronic format. The addition of the online version allows users the convenience of specialized searches as well as the option of having more than one user access the resource at one time. … Organized in clearly defined chapters with an easy-to-read typeface, this work exhibits the diligence and intelligence of highly skilled editors. … an essential and unique reference source."

American Reference Books Annual

"Probably Zell's crowning work, this volume is worth every penny to any writer, researcher, programme manager or industry professional seeking to understand the twists and turns in the book scene in Africa. … provides us with an opportunity to reassess not just the current state of publishing, the book and reading in Africa, but the resources that are required to fully understand, evaluate and develop future policy. … this work will be an indispensable part of the research toolkit, as it will be for any academic or industry professional concerned with the past and future of the book in Africa."

Logos. Forum of the World Book Community

"Over four decades Hans Zell has observed, recorded, and nurtured book publishing in sub-Saharan Africa … No one else knows the field as he does. This large new work is the culmination of his career. It offers far more than the subtitle suggests. Zell has read nearly all the 2,500-plus books, articles, reports, and theses listed, and has carefully annotated them with abstracts of up to 300 words, indicating their significance as well as their content. As a result, the book provides a unique series of snapshots of the book trade in eastern, western, and southern Africa. For a bibliography, it is an uncommonly good read. … an invaluable tool for anyone concerned with the history of the book or the international development of the book chain."

Journal of Scholarly Publishing

"… a comprehensive documentation of the book as a major index of contemporary life and expression in Africa … now revised and updated, to take account not only of new material but also of the technological revolution that has so profoundly transformed the publishing world in the past decade or so. … The special attention devoted in its layout as well as in its impressively detailed bibliographic references to digital and on-line resources emphasizes the dual dimension of the new edition. The digital features make this book a versatile tool …There are signs at the present moment of a revival of African publishing, gathering strength and pace all over the continent, as part of the innovative impulse that has given us in recent years a new expression in literature, the cinema, and the other arts. One can only hope that, where publishing, books and reading are concerned, this new development will be sustained over time, enabling us in Africa to create an infrastructure adequate to our educational, intellectual and cultural needs in the twenty-first century. It is in this light that the timeliness and importance of Hans Zell's book emerge so clearly."

Africana Libraries Newsletter

"Zell's work here is an exemplary piece of bibliography. He seems to have uncovered everything worth knowing on the subject that can fit into a work of this size. … a major achievement. It is recommended for collections specializing in publishing, library science and African studies."

The African Book Publishing Record

"Just when we thought (on the basis of trends showing publishers giving up on the genre) that bibliography was dead, along comes Hans Zell with this wonderfully sculpted guide to the African book and publishing worlds together with literary connections … The book and accompanying website (access to which comes with print purchase) are virtually flawless … An entertaining and thoughtful introduction on the progress and perils of the book in Africa by Kenyan publishing veteran Henry Chakava adds to the readability. … This work flags the enduring value to African literature of bibliography and the bibliographer's ability to adapt to new technology. … [a] unique and handy reference guide and critical bibliography."

Research in African Literatures

"… topical sections (entries 1231-2517) covering a variety of subjects … constitutes fully half the work and makes for far more interesting reading than most reference works. Here the annotations tend to be more informative-some are virtually mini-essays. …. PBRSSA will appeal more to librarians than to others. These cannot help be impressed not only by the magnitude of the materials devoted to book publishing in and about Africa, but by the assiduity with which Hans Zell has worked for forty years publishing and then improving his many contributions to the field."

Canadian Journal of African Studies (Canadian Association of African Studies)

" an essential work. Hans Zell is a world authority on publishing in Africa and this bibliography is yet another fine achievement."

Library + Information Update (Chartered Institute  of Library and Information Professionals/CILIP, UK)

"… il faudrait plusiers pages pour indiquer toutes les richesses de ce travail, mais je me contenterai d'en signaler les traits les plus originaux. … Plusieurs qualités recommandent cet ouvrage à l'attention des chercheurs. La nouvelle formule se signale par son aspect 'critique': l'auteur a consulté et évalué tout ce qu'il liste! C'est la clé d'un travail efficace: il juge, et indique ce qui est utile. Ce travail est de moins en moins fait à l'époque des bibliographies automatisées … De plus, il est l'lœuvre d'un expert incontesté, qui publie depuis près de quarante ans dans ce de domaine et qui a su rester à l'avant-garde de l'innovation technique."

Etudes Littéraires africaines (Association pour  l'Etude des Littératures africaines)

"… Each entry has a short summary (or annotation) ranging from one short sentence to over 300 words. These annotations are extremely helpful, as they summarize the key points within each article or book … will be an indispensable guide."

Learned Publishing

"… handsomely produced, easy on the eye and sturdily bound. … The author has considered each and every citation, and when possible, read and evaluated them. … The annotations are critical, in that they provide a short evaluative summary of the content … When suitable, the author cites from the material itself, perhaps from the abstract or conclusion and in cases lists reviews of publications. This analytical, human touch is what sets this collection apart from the typical dryness of bibliographic listings. … The volume is editorially pristine, lucidly written and well laid out. … It is to date the most complete documentation resource on the current state of the book on the African continent."

Publishing Research Quarterly

"… an essential starting point for anyone interested either specifically in publishing in Africa or in development generally."

Focus on International Library and Information Work

"… this volume does a fine job in providing more evaluative annotations than its predecessor and includes very current research … In his introductory essay, Henry Chakava's retrospective overview of changes in African publishing over thirty-five years provides a solid account of the connections (and discontinuities) between the worlds of the previous edition and the present one. … The online edition … greatly extends the accessibility (and therefore utility) of this resource for libraries."

African Studies Review

"The purchase of this bibliography opens up guided and facilitated access to a world of knowledge about publishing and reading in Africa."

Innovation. Journal of Appropriate Librarianship and Information Work in  Southern Africa

"More than 2,500 works are critically annotated … This wealth of information on book development and the growth of the publishing industry in Africa is worthy of celebration. … this comprehensive critical bibliography makes an immeasurable contribution."

The Africa Review of Books

"The book covers all segments of publishing and the book trade, as well as including a large number of entries on many other topics as they relate to books and reading in Africa. … user-friendly, it is extensively cross referenced … a very useful, rich and unique reference resource."

Pambazuka News. Weekly Forum for Social Justice in Africa

"L'ouvrage, de grande rigueur et envergure (plus de 700 pages), recense livres, journaux et articles, aussi bien imprimés que publiés en ligne. It est un outil de référence indispensable en ce qui concerne les pays Anglophones-la couverture de l'Afrique francophone est moins exhaustive mais néanmoins considérable."

Takam Tikou. La Bulletin de la Joie par les Livres 

"… the most comprehensive resource available. … The printed as well as the online version of the bibliography is a user-friendly key to the current state of the book on the African continent."

South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science 

"Wie die Vorauflage kann auch die wesentlich erweiterte und verbesserte dritte Auflage als ein "Muss" für alle Bibliotheken empfohlen werden, die in grösserem Umfang Literatur aus Schwarzafrika erwerben und ebenso für solche mit Sammlungen zum Buch-und Verlagswesen."

Informationsmittel (IFB): digitales Rezensionsorgan für Bibliothek und  Wissenschaft 

"… a compendium of virtually all that anyone has written and published on the subject of book publishing and reading on the African continent, South of the Sahara. …No library, private or public, worth its name can afford to deny itself the aesthetic and intellectual resourcefulness of Hans Zell's Publishing, Books, and Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Bibliography."

African Research & Documentation 



Africa: A Guide to Reference Material, 2nd revised and expanded edition

(print only, published April 2007)

“… McIlwaine has meticulously organized a vast array of information resources on Africa into a comprehensive guide for researchers … All collections on Africa should have this excellent book as a guide to collection development and research. Any library serving researchers with interest in Africa should strongly consider it. … Essential.”


“…The compiler's annotations are extremely helpful … The first edition of this work originated from teaching area studies bibliography at University College London over many years. Like its predecessor, this second edition is a magisterial guide that is essential for all libraries whose users have a serious interest in Africa.”

Library + Information Update (Chartered Institute  of Library and Information Professionals/CILIP, UK)

“This second edition of Africa: A Guide to Reference Material builds on the scholarship and research of the original and will be an essential purchase for all libraries supporting African studies at any level … all larger research focussed collections, even where Africa is not a focus, should purchase. African studies is well served, perhaps uniquely served, by a fine collection of current reference guides, with McIlwaine the central pillar.”

Reference Reviews

"…reflects McIlwaine's long and distinguished experience in the service of generations of researchers, developing and using some of the world's foremost collections for scholarship on Africa, Asia and British relations with these world areas. … sets a very high standard indeed for future reference book authors. … The organization is practical, convenient and logical, with excellent indexing, clear headings and multiple points of access making it a pleasure to browse while still providing quick access to authors and titles. … will be a valuable addition to reference collections worldwide."

African Studies Quarterly

The second edition of John McIlwaine’s Africa: A Guide to Reference Material brings the work of the well-received first edition up-to-date. It has 3,600 entries, more than double the number in the first edition... an essential addition to any reference collection in a research library. 

Africana Libraries Newsletter (Africana  Librarians Council of the [US] African Studies Association)

“ … AGRM2 has attempted perfection: it is a meticulously compiled reference source.

Focus on International Library and Information Work (Chartered  Institute of Library and Information Professionals/CILIP, UK)

… updates a classic reference work … The new edition is greatly expanded and has some 3,600 entries most of which carry evaluative annotations … The quality of the annotations is excellent. … The Guide is another fine book and a core reference work from Hans Zell Publishing.” 

Innovation. Journal of Appropriate Librarianship and Information  Work in Southern Africa

…The content is relevant and wide-ranging; a brilliant selection. The indexes are flawless, and very user-friendly. The layout is clear, the descriptions rich and yet pithy, pointing straight to the best library and scholarly reviews. … As with the first edition, this is a reference work of the highest quality deserving a place in every library for advanced research. 

The African Book Publishing Record 

… It is a remarkably rich compilation, selected from a wide range of resources. … an exquisite contribution in support of scholarship on Africa. It fills a void in organized information and its positive impact should be enduring. It should be an essential part of most reference collections. 

Research in African Literatures

… this new edition is an outstanding reference resource. 

African Research & Documentation. Journal of the Standing Conference  on Library Materials on Africa (SCOLMA)

This work greatly expands and updates [the author’s] first edition published in 1993 and is a remarkable achievement. … as close to comprehensive treatment of African country resources as we are ever likely to see … a first-rate reference work deserving of a place in every library for advanced research. 

H-Net Book Review. H-SAfrica 

 … will be invaluable for anyone wishing to become familiar with the key reference sources on historical and contemporary Africa as a whole. … will certainly serve the research community well for many years to come. … one of John McIlwaine's most useful and insightful contributions. 

African Studies Review

… I salute this work and encourage librarians, news media sources and scholars to pay close attention to all such works, and demand their purchase for public and educational libraries. Washington, DC

 Die Empfehlung der vorhergehenden Rezension [of 1st ed.] kann wiederholt werden: ein vorzüglicher Führer zu Informationsmitteln über Schwarzafrika, der in keiner grossen Bibliothek fehlen sollte.

Informationsmittel für Bibliotheken



The African Studies Companion: A Guide to Information Sources, 4th revised and expanded edition

(print & online, published May 2006)

“… Provides librarians and researchers with access and guidance to a wealth of information resources… The annotations are clear and informative, and the recommended items marked as "editor's choice of a particularly outstanding" source are reliable. Overall, this is an excellent work that enables non-specialist libraries to provide access to a wide array of African information sources at a reasonable cost. Online access is bundled with purchase of the print edition. Highly recommended. 


Best guide to African sources and studies. Authoritative and complete with more than 2,900 numbered entries.

American Library Association Guide to Reference (12th  edition 2008, online)

"… an excellent reference tool. The qualities that distinguished the earlier editions and produced widespread critical acclaim have been maintained and enhanced with the chapter on using Google and the consolidation of the Web version particularly valuable features. … All libraries with a serious interest in Africa have no option but to purchase this essential work, even if the third edition of just three years previously is in stock. Other general libraries serving those engaged on advanced study that may touch on African topics should also consider purchase. The published price of £148 seems eminently reasonable, especially given the bundled electronic access with regular updating."

Reference Reviews 

… very user-friendly, a delight to use. The technical production is excellent … as a guide and starting point to African Studies, this is an excellent resource. … This book is the best of its kind anywhere; the website up there with the best. New editions are promised every three years, which should help further mainstream this wonderful, practical, and convenient Companion, which I cannot recommend more highly, whether for libraries, institutes, publishers, African Studies administrators, or scholars.” 

African Research & Documentation. Journal of the Standing Conference  on Library Materials on Africa (SCOLMA)

The 4th edition of what is by now the recognized standard reference guide to information on African studies truly lives up to its “revised and expanded” billing. … Its broad geographic and subject coverage, detailed evaluative annotations, extensive cross-referencing, and user friendliness are just some of the features that make it a highly recommended reference tool for the beginning and experienced researcher, the seasoned and budding Africanist, and anyone interested in an environmental scan of the information landscape on Africa.” 

Africana Libraries Newsletter (Africana  Librarians Council of the [US] African Studies Association)

The new expanded edition is truly magisterial in its scope and detail. There is nothing else like it. … Each entry is annotated and evaluated. … in a different league from the many cobbled-together bibliographies in area studies. … It is recommended not simply as a reference tool but as a commentary. It is a service not only to researchers and librarians, but to Africa itself.” 

Library + Information Update (Chartered  Institute of Library and Information Professionals/CILIP, UK)

"… continues Hans Zell's fine tradition of guiding scholars to print and electronic sources on African studies. … The work consolidates and expands successful features of earlier editions, for example, by providing more evaluative annotations and identifying outstanding online resources. … The online version offers even more flexible navigation through the entries and the wealth of information contained in this rich resource on African studies."

H-Net Online. H-SAfrica Net

"…a pleasure to search and browse. This companion does much to dispel the picture of Africa as the dark continent – rather Hans Zell reveals a fascinating array of detailed knowledge about books, journals, magazines, associations, research foundations and institutions of learning, publishing and critical reviews. … The name Hans Zell has long been synonymous with excellence in bibliography. This edition continues the tradition and continues to inform and delight. The Companion is essential for any library."

The African Book Publishing Record 

… comes in both print and electronic format and is unique in that it covers such a broad range of topics … Do not be daunted by the book’s 864 pages. This book is extremely handy and easy to use. … great for students, scholars, educators, researchers, and anyone interested in Africa. It’s one of those books you keep on your desk, to be relied on often.

“…an exceptional resource. … Anyone who wants to learn more about Africa as a professional, student, or amateur will find it useful. … Zell provides annotations that are substantial and full of insights into the usefulness of each source. … Hans Zell deserves high praise for this volume and for the many other bib­liographic resources he has provided to his African studies colleagues for more than thirty years. The work belongs in the collections of most libraries as well as those of many government agencies, companies, non­profit organizations, and individuals.” 

African  Studies Review (African Studies  Association, USA)

… most entries are followed by annotations, which are evaluative rather than descriptive, allowing the user to weigh up the value of a resource. … The online edition is fully searchable, but it is equally easy to find one’s way around the print version … an essential reference work for all national and academic libraries in Africa and those with African studies courses or interests elsewhere in the world. It would be necessary to consult many other books and databases to find the information that has been so conveniently gathered together in this one volume.

Focus on International Library and Information Work (Chartered  Institute of Library and Information Professionals, CILIP, UK)

Hans Zell continues to produce high-quality reference books. This one deserves a place in most academic and general research libraries. 

Canadian Journal of African Studies 

… the fourth edition of the guide is a vast source of information, and it serves the needs of a wide variety of people and organizations, including higher education institutes, libraries, researchers, writers … Hans Zell has done excellent work in compiling and arranging a huge amount of valuable information that has no parallel. 

Nordic Journal of African Studies (Nordic Association  of African Studies)

Le Companion de Hans Zell nous donne les adresses de tout ce que nous pouvons obtenir de l’Afrique et sur l’Afrique en utilisant Internet, qui est le point fort de cet ouvrage. … surtout permettent à l’étudiant de commencer son travail de recherche en le guidant d’une manière remarquablement pédagogique et directe: c’est là le point central et peut-être le plus difficile à faire percevoir dans notre pays du fait de la difficulté de nombreux étudiants à travailler en anglais. … La partie la plus originale de ce nouvel ouvrage est un guide d’une centaine de pages sur l’utilisation de Google pour des recherches africanistes; c’est remarquablement commode et astucieux. 

Études Littéraires  Africaines

"… the most comprehensive reference source of its kind. Its usefulness is further enhanced by its online version, which is conveniently searchable and is regularly updated." 

Research in African Literatures

… has for years served as an invaluable resource for those who research, write, or teach on African issues … one of the guide's major strengths is currency and accessibility. … In addition to very helpful and innovative evaluative entries - almost 3,000 in all - The African Studies Companion comes with an extensive index spanning forty-six pages, making it the most user-friendly source to date in the field of African studies.

International Bulletin of Missionary Research