Fair Trade in African Publishing in the Digital Era

By: Audrey Holdhus Small  

This paper builds upon recent scholarly work on publishing in Africa, to explore questions of fair trade in the digital era. Regional studies of publishing and print in the late twentieth century (UNESCO, the Bellagio Centre) have given way to research at the national level, with recent monographs on Burkina Faso, Cameroun and Ivory Coast, among others. There is, however, a push to re-energise transnational co-operation, with the revival of the African Publishers’ Network and the establishment of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, and an intensifying focus on the role of new technologies in publishing. The latter organisation focusses on “bibliodiversity” and has supported several West African publishers in working across national borders, for example on co-publishing and sharing physical and virtual distribution networks. Key current questions for publishers, publishers’ associations, and professionals in the book trade in the region centre around fair trade in publishing, particularly with regard to European imports in the school market; sustainability of local publishing industries; and building awareness of the “bibliodiverse” ecosystem of the book trade to encourage investors and policymakers to support local industry. A particular focus is on opportunities for young people to build careers in the trade, from traditional commercial or editorial roles to newer challenges such as making print on demand work in the West African market.

Africa, Digital, Fair
Publishing Practices: Past, Present, and Future
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Audrey Holdhus Small

University of Sheffield

Audrey Small is Lecturer in French and francophone studies at the University of Sheffield, UK. Her principal areas of research include publishing in francophone West Africa, West African literature, and post(-)colonial discourses of identity.