“There have been dramatic changes in the publishing industry over the last few years due to new technology and it is important that writers are aware of the different ways in which they can publish their work in order to make an informed decision. There are many factors to consider and what may suit one writer may not be the best approach for another,” said Jane Morris of amaBooks Publishers, an independent publishing house, at a recently held workshop at Selbourne Hotel in Bulawayo.
The meeting which saw about fifty established and aspiring writers converge at the local hotel, was held under the auspices of the major arts festival and funded by the British Council. This would be the third time that the workshops have been run in as many years. The workshop weighed the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing. Traditional publishing has its advantages of allowing the author to concentrate on their core competency: writing, and has no financial risk accruing to the writer.These benefits are juxtaposed against those of self-publishing in that authors have creative autonomy,control, less bureaucracy and a larger percentage of the profit.
The last few years have witnessed a number of developments that are altering the publishing landscape. These are eBooks which are read on e-readers and devices such as Kindle and other cutting edge communication devices, on demand printing, short run printing, Amazon shorts (short books) and importantly, crowd-funding. Interestingly, there are also innovations that enable eBook authors to receive feedback from readers.
At the workshop it was my honour to meet a very smart Zimbogeek called Tafadzwa Makura from Harare. Okay, here is why he deserves mention on this platform: the tech wiz is the conceptualiser of Mazwi. Mazwi is a ‘revolutionary platform’ built around a simple application. It is an all in one mobile book market place that lets local writers and publishers share and sell stories in digital form directly to mobile devices. The groundbreaking innovation was conceived to help mitigate the increasing costs of printing, distribution and marketing for writers and publishers in emerging markets. “We are making premium local stories from local writers and publishers available to over a billion mobile internet users across the world on most mobile devices for a fraction of the cost. We are calling it a revolution because it is,” states the Mazwi innovators.
The system works like this: authors and publishers approach Mazwi and sign agreements that allow them to submit final drafts for uploading on to the Mazwi server. Book lovers can download the Mazwi app for free to their phones, tablets and computers. They can then pay for the book via Ecocash, PayPal and Visa after which it is downloadable to the communication device. The seller takes 30 percent and the rest goes to the author or copyright holder. Potential uses for the app is in e-learning, literacy programmes and digital libraries among others. Currently, the content partners of the company are Weaver Publishers (the local publishers of NoViolet Bulawayo), amaBooks and Innov8. The institutional and technological partners of the company are British Council, Alliance Francaise, biNu, iWayAfrica, TechZim and Worldreader. Significantly, the diffusion of innovations i.e. the internet, smart phones and tablets has impacted negatively on the market for printed books. Rather than ignore the reality, authors and publishers are being given an opportunity to adapt and profit from platforms such as Mazwi.
How extensively and speedily the innovation diffuses into the targeted emerging world markets will have a lot to do with the activation and sustenance of the reading culture of peoples in those same markets. To my mind, the Mazwi application, being downloadable free of charge to mobile communication devices just like the popular Whatsapp application, is a sterling example of the creativity of Zimbabweans in meeting contemporary challenges.
'amaBooks have published 36 books featuring 240 writers since we started in 2000.
For information about the books and the writers, please visit www.amabooksbyo.com.
Outside of Zimbabwe, most of the books are available through www.africanbookscollective.com or many other online outlets.
'The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician', 'This September Sun' and 'Where to Now?' are available in the UK from Parthian Books.
'This September Sun' is available in East Africa through Longhorn Press.
'The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician' is published in North America by Ohio University Press, in Nigeria and other West African countries by Kachifo (Farafina) and in Germany by Peter Hammer Verlag.
'The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician', 'This September Sun' 'Where to Now' and 'Textures' are available online through jamalon.com.
'amaBooks titles are available in Bulawayo at Orange Elephant, Book and Bean, Indaba Book Cafe, Natural History Museum, and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe; in Harare at the National Gallery, Blackstone Books and Avondale Bookshop; in South Africa at Clarkes (Cape Town), Bridge Books, African Flavour, Xarra and Love Books (Johannesburg).
If you are outside Africa and would like to buy a particular book through the African Books Collective, please click on the image of the book cover below.
If you would like brief information about recent books, to read extracts or to buy from an online store, click on the book2look logo below.
Otherwise, please email us at email@example.com, or find a bookshop through www.amabooksbyo.com.
amaBooks as e-books
Most 'amaBooks titles are available as e-books through ABC. Please click on the link below.
They are also available on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk and many other online stores.
This September Sun, Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe and Dancing with Life: Tales from the Township are available in the USA as e-books through Scribd. Please click on the Scribd logo below.
Moving On and other Zimbabwean stories
The Goddess of Mtwara
The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things
The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician
The Gonjon Pin
A Memory This Size
Available from 'amaBooks in Zimbabwe
Where to Now?
This September Sun
by Bryony Rheam
Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe
Silent Cry: Echoes of Young Zimbabwe Voices available outside Zimbabwe