Majority of Kenyan Authors are not able to gain full benefits from their art, Text Book Centre’s 254 Kitabu Fest forum has revealed.
While unveiling insights into Kenya’s publishing landscape during the forum, Risper Oluga, Text Book Centre’s E-Commerce Manager said it is evident Kenya has a vibrant and diverse reading culture thriving amidst its rich literary traditions and a growing appetite for knowledge.
According to her, a recent study by data firm Stadi Analytics and the Writers Guild Kenya (WGK) indicates at least 85 per cent of residents living in Nairobi read regularly, and more than half do so daily.
She said libraries, book clubs, and literary festivals are key drivers of this reading culture, fostering a love for books among Kenyan readers of all ages and fueling the increase in authors.
“Despite this increase, it is sad that many of the authors take home only 10 per cent of the profits,” said Oluga.
She said the genesis of The 254 Kitabu Fest lies in Text Book Centre’s dedication to showcasing the extensive array of local titles available.
“We currently stock over 1000 local authors which represent up to 50 per cent of the titles within our store. However, not many Kenyans are purchasing these books as most of the ones that fly off the shelf are linked to the education system,” she said.
Oluga said this inspired the development of ‘The 254 Kitabu Fest’, curated to celebrate Kenyan literature and over 1000 Kenyan authors by inspiring them to understand what it takes to be an author, how to grow and monetise, how to remain relevant and how to inspire the upcoming generation to write.
“The 254 Festival demonstrates that the book business is a dynamic and vital part of Kenya’s intellectual landscape and underscores Text Book Centre’s foundational dedication in nurturing homegrown literary talent, a commitment ingrained since its inception over 60+ years ago,” she added.
Her sentiments were echoed by Larry Liza, an established Kenyan author who said with the increase in digital disruption and changing consumer behaviours, authors need such forums to discuss monetisation strategies and remain relevant as much as possible.
This includes sharing tips on how to list books in both online and brick-and-mortar stores as well as learning how to promote our books and create demand beyond the bookstore.
“Being an author is difficult, almost everyone in the world would like to write and publish a book but only 1 per cent go ahead to write and publish. Many aspiring authors are mistaken that writing is easy and that when they do write it will be the best book ever, only to realize there’s more to the business of writing,” said Liza.
During the full-month festival, Text Book Centre will host various engaging events such as book signings, parent-child readings, and launches.
Additionally, the festival offers enticing discounts of up to 80 per cent on selected books, to encourage a wider embrace of reading, making literature more accessible to all, avid readers and newcomers alike.