Special Report by Omobola Alice
Books serve as one of the major forms of entertainment. They are informative as well as engaging. Books are useful in so many ways, and they demand nothing for the service they render to the mankind.
The existence of books is as ancient as the Universe. There are books on literature, science, fiction, history, art, culture, civilization, romance, philosophy etc. Some books are for leisure, while others have been written to fulfill academic purposes. Above all, books give us insight into the various aspect of life.
BookRepublic was at the popular University of Ibadan Gate and we interacted with some of the street books sellers around. They told us about their challenges, how they source for the books and people’s responses to the books they have to offer.
Mr Muri Wale, who has been into the book selling business for over 17 years told BookRepublic that he started selling books because of the love he has for reading. According to him, ‘I started selling books after my secondary school education in Lagos. I love reading books because of my literature teacher in the secondary school and after I left secondary school, I decided to venture into the business. I always buy my books at a cheaper price from Lagos through the importers who bring in goods or I buy from people who want to sell their old books.’
He added that Book Selling is a very lucrative business especially the business of selling foreign books because Nigerians love to read foreign books most especially the romance genre.
Talking about some of the challenges they are facing, Mr Muri told BookRepublic that they don’t have much access to Nigerian books because it is costly to get and most of the Nigerian authors are not popular. And the little they have with them, people don’t buy it because they don’t know the author.
According to him, ‘Getting books now is very scarce because the business is now popular and thousands of people are into the business now. We now struggle to get books.” he said.
Mr Muri suggested that the Nigerian Government should encourage young talented writers to achieve their aims by promoting their works.
Another book seller, Mr Ademola told BookRepublic that he started selling books since 1980. He inherited the business from his late Uncle who was also a book seller.
“I took over this business of selling of books after my late Uncle’s burial. He had a book store back then with a lot of foreign and local books and because of his popularity then, a lot of people were patronizing him. I didn’t want the business to die off like that, so I started going to the shop and since then, I have been in the business.’
Mr Ademola said the business has made him to meet a lot of people both within and outside Nigeria. He spoke about the challenges they are facing such as paucity of funds to buy more books, lack of help from the government such as loan or raising funds for the struggling booksellers..
Babarinde, a retired Civil Servant opined that he ventured into the business 10 years ago after his retirement because of poverty.
‘I started selling books 10 years ago after my retirement. I retired as a civil servant, and the federal government refused to pay my money after 2 years of retiring from the service. I had nothing at home to eat again, friends and families left me and I was left with nothing expect my novels. I went to meet one of my friends who sell books then and I begged him to teach me how to go about the business. I sold all the books I have at home and I started going to Lagos to source for books to sell. Today, I am happy I chose the business because people always patronize me.’
Mr Babarinde who is into selling of foreign books said that most of the foreign books he got them for free from those who know him. He said Nigerian books are very costly and most of the books are not popular. Moreover, his customers prefer foreign authors.
John, a young man who just finished his secondary school told BookRepublic that one of his teachers in the secondary school introduced him to the business.
He said, ‘I started selling books right from my secondary school days. My literature teacher would always send me to Lagos to get books for him because he has a book shop he was managing. During one of my visit to Lagos, I saw a car loaded with books and a lot of people were around buying books, I bought 10 books that particular day for 1,000 naira and when I got back to school the following day, I sold everything with a profit of 900 naira. Since then, I have been into the business.’
John added that Nigerians love buying books especially people from the South West because they love education.
He further advised that Nigerians should cultivate the habit of reading books written by Nigerian Authors because he realized that people patronize foreign books more than our local books.