Digital Publishing in West Africa: Langaa RPCIG case study

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Digital Publishing in West Africa: Langaa RPCIG case study

  1. 1. Case Study:Langaa RPCIG & Digital Publishing<br />Divine FUH<br />Secretary,<br />Langaa RPCIG<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  2. 2. Beyonddevelopment...<br />Africa, Africanists and Africans in need of a strategic framework – to offer purpose, guide activities and re-define futures.<br />“Dormir sur la natte des autres c‘est comme dormir par terre” (J. Ki Zerbo) (to sleep on the mat of others is almost like sleeping on the ground)<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  3. 3. ‘Trying Times’<br />Books/African writing as endangered<br />Threatened content: The Dangers of a single story<br />Loss of competitive value: danger of books/African writing becoming FAIR TRADE<br />Langaa concerned with voicing the voiceless, providing visibility for authors beyond ‘narrow borders’, challenging hegemonies, (re)shaping African futures.<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  4. 4. Taking Opportunity<br />“…there is a crop of new, young, smart publishers who are putting out amazing work, places like Kwani?, Story Moja, Langaa, Cassava Republic and others.<br />They are the ones who know what publishers have always known: that, as important as dollars and naira and shillings are, we put books out into the world for more than that.” (Frank Bures, 2009)<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  5. 5. Opportunities?<br />Langaa believes in translating difficulties into opportunities<br />Poor government support, the difficulties of free expression in divided societies, under-privileging of the publishing and culture industries, policing speech and content, and ‘the danger of a single story’.<br />A growing Digital Generation – innovations in printing, e-books, smartphones, e-readers, tablet pc, social media, digital cameras.<br />Increasing readership: “More people than ever before are reading novels and history books, and not just as text books, encouraging local publishers to get into an expanding market” (The Africa Report, Oct-Nov., 2009).<br />Mobility as opportunity: increasing movement of people and diasporas' thirst for ‘local’ content<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  6. 6. Langaa?<br />History: Founded in 2005, administrative/editorial work begins in 2006, first publication in 2007.<br />Mission: “contribute to the cultural development and renaissance of Africa.”<br />Activities: Conducting research, capacity building through training in research and writing, publishing and promoting African scholarship and creative writing.<br />Location: Premises located in Buea & Bamenda, Cameroon – multipurpose resource centre, training/conference facilities & accommodation for writers and researchers.<br />Operational Format: Non profit-making initiative. Without staff funding, work fully done by volunteers, located in different countries – hence the concept of a virtual office and the embrace of the digital moment.<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  7. 7. Partnership/Cooperation<br />Africa Book Collective – extended to Michigan University Press (Marketing and Distribution).<br />The African Studies Centre (ASC) Leiden – research, training and publishing<br />– the ASC-Langaa Book series<br />Student/Researcher Exchange, Wotro & Volkswagen Foundation research projects.<br />The IDRC – co-publication contract.<br />Codesria – co-publication agreement.<br />Caine Prize for African Writing successfully hosted in 2011.<br />Partnership expanding...<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  8. 8. The time forcontent...<br />Successes mainly founded on a unique Volunteer and Digital revolution, efficiency & desire for embracing innovation...<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  9. 9. Production<br />Editorial Quality:<br />Editorial Board composed of scholars & writers in Africa & abroad – Chairperson Prof. Francis B. Nyamnjoh, UCT<br />Rigorous peer review:<br />All MS systematically reviewed before publication decisions, reports shared with authors and stored electronically for transparency.<br />MS accepted only in ‘digital’ format – by email.<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  10. 10. D-Production<br />Print on Demand: through Membership/Partnership with ABC (African Book Collective)<br />Adv. Offers opportunity to concentrate on producing high-quality content.<br />Adv. Worldwide availability of books – with all major distributors, online shops, online shops/retail outlets such as amazon.<br />Presence in major International Book Fairs (Frankfurt, Cape Town, Nigeria, etc).<br />Adv. High quality printing<br />Dis.adv. High cost of books to Africa.<br />Reliance on grants and benevolence to make books available – e.g. Liesbeth van Ecke, through the Doldrecht-Bamenda Foundation<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  11. 11. D-Production<br />E-Books: electronic content now distributed through ABC and its outlets.<br />E-Formats: Adobe Digital Editions, epub and mobi formats<br />Ebook online retailers:<br />General public: Diesel ebook Store and Powells. Into eBooks.<br />Libraries: Ebrary or MyiLibrary.<br />Eventually a one-stop ABC retail<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  12. 12. D-Promotion<br />Google books snippet view:<br />One third of book available for public viewing online ‘teaser’ meant to encourage purchase<br />Langaa webpage (www.langaa-rpcig.net)<br />Launched 2009<br />Created using dynamic programming tools (Php, Ajax, Css, javascript, etc.), integrates Web 2.0 features (Rss feed, sharing possibilities towards social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Netlog, etc.).<br />Contains: Book Fairs, Catalogue, Langaa Contact, Partners, Research, Training, Volunteers, Writing & Publishing<br />WebTraffic:<br />220 per day in 2009 up to 238 per day in 2010<br />Visits from 2882 towns and cities worldwide<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  13. 13. Thereisopportunity<br />Possibilities to accomplish goals and compete without the strongest individual ‘traditional’ financial capital<br />Good ideas, good technology and committed volunteering across the world<br />Clear visibility for writers, recognition, competitiveness and an international presence<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  14. 14. Output<br />Over 160 books published in 4 years:<br />2007: 9 2008: 37<br />2009: 49 2010: 63<br />Total by 2010: 158 <br />Projections for 2011: 190<br />Countries published: Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, US, UK, Netherlands, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, etc<br />Languages: French, English & Pidgin<br />Thematic Focus:<br />60% fiction (novels, poetry, short stories, and drama)<br />40% non fiction (literary criticism, biographies & autobiographies and books on youth, history, culture, communication and writing, developmental themes such as education, environment, governance, economic growth, access to land, women‘s empowerment, rural and urban development.<br />Women authors in minority – 20% of Langaa‘s authors, authored 15% of titles in print – yet, 3 of top selling books in 2010, 28.5% of sales of top selling 22 titles by 4 women, represent 20% of 3332 books sold.<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  15. 15. Sales & Distribution<br />Sales & Marketing: Copies sold for 2010 = 3332 copies<br />Sales mainly through POD technology, partnerships & a network of volunteer worldwide<br />ABC & MSUP<br />Up from about 150 copies in 2007<br />Projections for 2011 = increase sales to 5000<br />Marketing: mainly by word of mouth and promotion through social media– a heavy reliance on authors to value their products through self-promotion.<br />Prestige: several books nominated for Book prize awards – locally and internationally<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  16. 16. Challenges?<br />Cost of production, hence limited access to Africa.<br />Building a framework for publishing?<br />What requires change & How should we define change?<br />What are the goals of publishing in a digital age?<br />Building writing capacities and writing for transformation – knowledge production sets agendas, negotiate positions<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  17. 17. Our Vision<br />Langaa offers an invitation to partner in its insatiable desires...<br />‘The Digital Moment’ offers creative (late-)comers the opportunity to excel.<br />With little funding, good ideas, investment in quality, networking and ‘information’ offer opportunity to challenge ‘the single story’ hegemony<br />The Langaa model – a challenge to ‘development’ institutions, governments and investors to match their rhetoric with their money.<br />A Challenge to the Continent and its ‘benevolents’ to use the ‘digital moment’ in building a change framework for the future.<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  18. 18. Conclusions<br />Voicing the voiceless – making the invisible visible<br />Without a strategic framework, goal, purpose or intentionality – the relevance of digital publishing requires questioning<br />Digital Publishing offers opportunities for change through visibility, networking with the aim of setting an agenda<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />
  19. 19. To end...<br />What ever happens, the revolution will be televised, it will be texted, it will be twittered, it will be facebooked, it shall be digital and concurrently digitised, but it will especially be Published...<br />Thank You<br />www.langaa-rpcig.net<br />

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