By the time you are reading this, some carpenters must be wrapping up on erecting book stands at the Multi-purpose Hall of the University of Lagos which is the home of the 14th edition of the Nigeria International Book Fair. The fair, which is an initiative of Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NBFT), is scheduled to begin tomorrow, May 11. It will run till Saturday May 16. NBFT has been the parent body for the major stake-holders in the Nigerian book sector. It comprises of the Nigerian Publishers Association, Nigerian Book Foundation, Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Association of Nigerian Printers, Nigerian Library Association, Association of Nigerian Authors and the Association of Non-fiction and Academic Authors of Nigeria.
What is gratifying about this annual fair is that there is a wide variety of literary activities that make the week very desirable. For instance, the international conference always features seasoned speakers who bring fascinating tilts to issues in the book industry. This year, the conference, scheduled for Tuesday May 12, will focus on the theme, “African Youth Empowerment through Book for Sustainable National Development” and will be delivered by Professor G.G. Darah. Last year, the survival of the book industry was the concern of stake-holders and it would be recalled that out of several arguments in favour of the physical book, one stood out. One speaker noted that this present generation of readers will miss the smell of a new book when they abandon physical books for electronic copies. Besides, the decline in readership of physical books will gravely affect printers, booksellers, book distributors, retailers and other stake-holders in the industry. This year, the conference on national development will be chaired by the Chairman, HEBN Publishers Plc, Mr Ayo Ojeniyi.
Other activities for the week include workshops, seminars, trainings, author’s groove and two days of children programme. The children programme usually involves reading and writing sessions for children within the primary and secondary school age but not more than 18 years. Meanwhile, the author’s groove is created for critical discourse, readings and performances amongst writers.
NBFT also values industry and commitment. That explains the reason for recognising and modestly rewarding individuals who have distinguished themselves in the book and knowledge sector in Nigeria either through authorship or services to the sector. Life Time Achievement Award is given to the qualified persons. Other awards include Victor Nwankwo Book of the Year Award and Idris Animashaun Book Printer of the Year Award.
Perhaps the best piece of news is that there will be free internet facility for all exhibitors throughout the period of the book fair. While addressing the media at a recent press briefing at Excellence Hotel, Ogba, the Chairman, NBFT, Alhaji Rilwanu Abdulsalami, revealed other expectations that the stake-holders should anticipate in tWhe literary event.
“For the first time in the history of Nigeria International Book Fair, schools owners and principal officers of schools in Nigeria will feature in a summit that will hold during the fair. The summit will open another window of business
opportunity to those who will exhibit at the fair,” he said.
He added that the participants at the fair would have access to books and other instructional materials at pocket-friendly cost. There will also be business opportunities to buy and sell publishing or distribution rights from prominent authors and publishers drawn from Nigeria and other countries namely United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Bahrain, Senegal, Ghana, Uganda, Egypt, Kenya and Botswana.
Nigeria International Book Fair is part of the series of programmes by NBFT geared towards improving literacy and book trade in Nigeria in the Month of May. Lagos has become the choice destination for this international book fair because the state has the highest concentration of stake-holders in the book industry. However, to cater for the literary needs of other geographical zones in the country, regional book fair is organised in three zones. For the Northern zone, Abuja Book Fair is designed to rally the literati together. Similarly, the Enugu Book Fair will cover the South-east and South-south while Ibadan Book Fair will be the toast of those in the South-west region.
More visitors are anticipated this year at the fair due to the new publicity strategies that had been put in place. For instance, a road show would be taken to many prominent educational institutions and campuses in Lagos. This will directly reach the students who are part of the target audience for the literary event.
The Nigerian Book Fair Trust is registered as an organisation in 2002. It has been endorsed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETF) and the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC). The Trust is also an accredited member of the Conference of International Book Fairs Directors. NBFT has recorded tremendous success in fuelling government’s interest in literary promotion and has fast become one of the biggest book fairs in Africa.
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