The 15TH Nairobi International Book Fair;Education and Peace | education ,peace,book,fair

The 15th edition of the Nairobi International Book fair,was held in September ,26-30th,2012,at the Sarit Center ,in Nairobi.The theme of the book fair was education and peace.I attended the book fair ,and,according to my perspective the book fair lived up to it’s billing ,although the attendance wasn’t all that promising ,putting into consideration the worthiness of the book fair.The participation by the various Publishers ,and,exhibitors proved a point.

Many publishing Houses brought with them various catalogue of books which they had published .But,in a country which is considered as a book desert due to it’s reading culture ,we need to put our best feet when it comes to enticing people to embrace books and see the positivity of it.And,one way is by holding numerous book fairs.

According to the Chairman of the Kenya Publishers Association,Mr. Lawrence K Njagi ,while analyzing the tremendous gains the book fair has gained ,said that the book fair has continued to show steady growth both in terms of attendance and exhibitors,with last year’s event hitting an all time high.

This is indeed a true testimony of the continued growth and investment in the region in as far as publishing is concerned .Kenya Publishers Association continues to advocate for liberalised book trade with a public /private partnership .This we feel ,is the only way we can guarantee quality and competitiveness in curriculum support materials and general readership books.The publishing industry in Kenya continues to grow in both text book publishing and general books and especially in the areas of motivation and children literature.

To Joseph Ngunjiri,while contributing to the Kenya Publishers Magazine ,wrote that ,apart from the Nairobi International Book Fair ,which is held annually by the Kenya Publishers Association,the culture of holding and attending book fairs is yet to be fully embraced by Kenyans.This is in spite of the fact that book fairs provide forum where publishers ,authors and readers meet to interact with the latest releases in terms of books .It is also through book fairs that reading culture is strengthened ,which can only be a good thing for all concerned.

The fact that this fair is held in Nairobi,means that people from outside Nairobi don’t get to benefit from what a book fair has to offer .Still,and,for various diverse reasons ,not all book lovers manage to attend the Nairobi International Book Fair.

Mr.Ngunjiri,further argues that ,in the absence of regular book fairs ,bookshops remain the only outlet Kenyans can interact with books ,and,bookshops cannot be said to be the best barometer of what is available in terms of books ,in the market.Since bookshops exist to make profit they might be unwilling to stock books they feel will not be of immediate financial gain for them.

The best part of a book fair is that it is held in an informal atmosphere ,where all parties are relaxed ,and,in almost all instances all parties leave the venue with a feeling of contentment .It is for the above and more reasons that all efforts should be put in place to ensure that book fairs are decentralised to more parts of the country.

He further points that ,there are obvious to be derived from having book fairs in all counties.For one,there is going to be increased awareness of books among Kenyans ,which can only mean that many more people get to read books.And,when more people read books ,it automatically means that the reading culture will be tremendously improved.

For a long time now ,we have mourned endlessly about the existence of a poor reading culture among Kenyans ,and,this is not about to change unless concrete steps are taken to address this issue.One of the ways to change this is by well ,holding regular book fairs.It cannot be gainsaid that a person who loves reading appreciates the value of books and is therefore more likely to spend their hard earned income to purchase a book .If more people read books ,it means that publishers will make more money from selling books ,they will be able to pay authors more in terms of royalties.

And,the writer asks a pertinent question ;why successful fiction writer in the western world are millionaires many times over .It is because people in those countries appreciate the importance of books and therefore buy books.Here in Kenya the only writers who are likely to make a few shillings are those whose books make it to be set books in schools.

If however we have a healthy reading culture ,publishers would not have to worry if their books will be accepted as set books.Their books would make handsome returns because more Kenyans are willing to buy the books.

But,more Kenyans needs to develop a positive reading culture ,they become more informed and make informed choices in life.Informed citizens are more likely to demand better and efficient services from the government and political leaders.

Finally ,informed citizens are more likely to elect progressive leaders and not thieving ,lying and corrupt politicians.This means that instances where politicians lie to the electorate in order to be elected will be greatly reduced .All this is possible if more people have access to books ,and,this can be turned into a reality we have more book fairs.

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