- Accessibility - I recently tried to purchase a few books by African authors online. Success varied depending on the author. Some African authors are quite visible online. It was easy for me to click on a few buttons to get some authors on Kindle for instance. Some African authors are unavailable on Kindle and other e-print outlets for reasons best known to them and their publishers. What I find difficult to understand is why in this day and age, some authors would not take advantage of the electronic print revolution. It is usually cheaper and better value for money and for some of the bookaholics among us, the best option. It is also a fact that if we are to encourage and build a generation of African fiction readers - a potentially huge market of young Africans - including those in diaspora, who spend a lot of their time online - embracing the e-print option would be the way to go. There have been concerns about piracy but if the successes in the West are anything to go by, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
- Still on the issue of accessibility, why would an African author not be on Amazon or some other globally accessible outlet like The Book Depository or the e-print outlet - Smashwords? In one case, I could not find a credible enough option to purchase the book of an African author who was recently shortlisted for a prestigious award. I was repeatedly frustated in my efforts to purchase her work. The only outlet I found was a website based in her country of origin and it did not deal in a currency that I understood. I have given up on getting her book and so would many other buyers in my position - that is a lot of sales lost! This author is not the only one. Although there are publishers like Farafina and Cassava Republic doing well at promoting the online presence of African authors; there are many African authors with no online presence and they are losing out on sales in a big way. Buyers of African fiction are African as well as non-Africans. They are spread all over the world and they would only buy from outlets that they trust. Many of us do buy online and it is sad that some African Authors are not doing enough to make their works accessible in this way. Buying online saves time and money. The times when I would visit a bookshop to buy or order a book are well and truly over and there are many more like me out there. Many of us lead busy lives - if I can't get your book the best way that I can, I wouldn't bother. It's as simple as that.