September 23, 2014
Nigerian publishing industry drama displaying signs of improvement, initialisms
by Liam O’Brien
The Nigerian Tribune has reported some good news regarding the state of the Nigeria’s publishing industry; it will continue to exist, at least for now. The Tribune details successful talks between the Association of Nigerian Printers (ANP) and the Nigeria Publishers Association (NPA), organizations which until recently were publicly feuding over the recently implemented tariffs on imported books.
These tariffs, which combined run to 50%, are now being deferred for a year after a joint discussion facilitated by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). When originally introduced under the aegis of trade protectionism, the severe tariffs immediately became a sticking point between the ANP, the interests of whom the taxes were clearly meant to protect, and the NPA. The NPA argued that the tariffs run counter to the mission of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and an earlier UN resolution banning duties on imported books, and the tariffs will just encourage book piracy, raise prices, and lead to a rise in Nigeria’s significant rate of illiteracy.
The ANP countered that publishers relied too much on cheap international printers and were driving their own country’s printers to bankruptcy. NPA president Chief N.O. Okereke responded with a generous, almost gleeful string of insults:
Expatiating on this, he said: “For instance, if UBEC gives a publishing company an order for say 200,000 copies of a book, they will expect you to deliver in six weeks. But the fact is that none of the printers in the country can achieve that. Not one. Not only that, when you give order to a printer abroad, you just turn in the material and go to sleep. The next thing will be for your books to arrive at the port for you to clear. It is not so with local printers. If you give any order to a printer in Nigeria, you have to supply them paper. If you don’t supply paper, they cannot do anything. They cannot even afford to buy paper for themselves and print. Foreign printers give generous credit. You don’t have to prepay. Some of them give between 90-120 days credit from the day of the bill of lading. If you give an order to a Nigerian printer, he will come back to tell you that there is no electricity or that the machine has broken down and all sorts of things.
The new compromise of the NPA and the ANP regarding UBEC projects as it was moderated by MAN (I’m sorry I just wanted to see them all in a row) is being presented to the government. We at MobyLives have a collective soft spot for straight-talking publishers, so we’re rooting for the NPA. Not all of us are pedantic about the difference between an acronym and an initialism, however.
Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.