Special Report by Omobola Alice
The publishing industry has been in existence for ages, long before the advent of technology; and within this period, a lot of changes and growth have happened to the industry of which some publishers have expanded their local distribution and marketing territories to other international territories, and discovered faster means of making their books available to readers within a click of the computer keyboard.
Despite the changes that have happened to the industry, through the introduction of new technologies which now make their works easier and faster, some Nigerian Publishers still prefer to take their works outside the shores of the country for printing instead of patronizing our local printers.
BookRepublic visited some big publishing houses where we interviewed their publishing units to know the reasons why some of them prefer to print their books abroad.
Conversing with the Managing Director of StraightGate Publishers Limited, he mentioned that the major problem facing the Nigerian publishing industry is the lack of “raw material” such as paper for printing.
According to him, “There are many reasons why Nigerian Publishers prefer to print their books abroad but the major problem that is facing the industry is the lack of raw material for printing”. He recounted that there is no single industry that produce paper in Nigeria, the four paper manufacturing firms in Nigeria (NPM, NNMC, NNPMC, JEBA PAPER MILLS) are no longer functioning again and this gives room for importation of paper. He further stated that after importing the papers to be used, with the production costs and other logistic expenses, there won’t be any profit left for the publishers and so, the publisher will be at a loss. But over there, paper is enough.
He further stated that unstable electricity is another major reason why some Nigerian Publishers prefers to print abroad because over there electricity supply is uninterrupted. He stated that unlike here in Nigeria, the electricity is pitiable. He further lamented in reference to the uncertainty of delivery date, ‘Why you will give them works with an agreement to collect on the fixed date, but going there for collection, they will start giving all sort of excuses meanwhile abroad, they don’t disappoint.’
The Publisher opined that piracy is another major reason why Nigerian Publishers prefers to print abroad because over there, there are laws guiding the printers. He said, “Abroad, they won’t print for you unless they know you are the real owner of the work but here in Nigeria, there is no law guiding the printers. Even before the original copy is being released, the pirated copies are out already”.
In an interview with the Publisher of BookCraft Limited, he opined that the major reason why Nigerian Publishers prefer to print their books abroad is because of “Quality Assurance”
He said, in any business, the quality of a product matters most. “In Nigeria, we are still growing, when it comes to production of good quality product. But over there, there is an assurance that your work will come out fine because they have the necessary machines to make it happen but here, some pages of the book will be upside down, some won’t stitch very well, even the colors will go on a separate side. And seeing all this, no serious minded publisher will want his work to have mishap. To be on a safer side, we prefer to print our books where there won’t be problem.
He also listed unstable power supply as one of the reasons Nigerian Publishers prefer to go to abroad for printing. He said, over there, there is always light to work with but here in Nigeria, there is no stable electricity which is negatively affecting the industry.
SafariBooks Limited also listed the reasons why Nigerian Publishers prefer to travel out of the country to do their printing.
He said, “We prefer to go to abroad for our printing of books because it is very cheap over there. Reasons being that all the materials for printing are available unlike here in Nigeria, that the printing house will have to order for the papers they will use in printing and then making it costly for the publisher to pay.’
In addition, SafariBooks mentioned quality of product as one of the reasons why publishers in Nigeria prefer to print their books abroad because they have access to better machines that print books.
Evans Publishers Limited, another notable publishing house in Ibadan also highlighted the reasons why Nigerian Publishers prefer to go to abroad for printing of their books.
According to Mr. Tunde of Evans, the Nigerian government is not helping the industry too because in Nigeria as a whole, there is no single paper manufacturing industry and the ones that were in existence before were mismanaged. “In Nigeria, instead of us to be growing, we are going backward. In India, they have enough papers over there for different sizes of books you want to print but here in Nigeria, there is nothing like that. So, instead of importing papers for printing, is better to print the books over there to reduce the cost of spending. Today, the paper market is dominated by imports from India and other parts of Asia. It is so unfortunate that the rims of paper used in Nigeria are imported.”
In another light the Publisher of BookBuilders Limited, stated that the major reason why some Nigerian Publishers prefer to print abroad is because they are not patriotic.
According to the publisher, she said “Nigerian Publishers prefer to go to abroad to print their books simply because they are not patriotic to their country.’’
In a brief chat with the Secretary of Nigerian Publishers Association, Emmanuel Abimbola, he said Publishers in Nigeria are facing a lot of challenges when it comes to printing of books in Nigeria.
“In a situation where there is no stable power supply and the publisher has been given a deadline by his client, the publisher being a business man has no choice but to go to where his work will meet the targeted timeframe”. He further stated that, “Moreover, piracy is another reason why Nigerian Publishers go abroad to print their books because over there, there is a minimum level to which a pirate can operate but here in Nigeria, they make use of the same printer the publishers are working with.”