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Poor reading culture, bane of publishing industry in Nigeria, says don

A university don, Prof. Joy Ezeilo yesterday in Enugu identified poor reading culture as the major challenge facing publishing and education industries in Nigeria. Ezeilo, immediate former Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), who spoke as chairperson during the 55th annual conference and general meeting of the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA) stated that Nigeria has a poor reading culture and that policymakers are not helping matters.

She expressed dismay over poor investment in the educational sector by the government even as she noted that the Nigerian school system including primary, post primary and tertiary institutions churns out poor quality products yearly. Prof. Ezeilo challenged Nigerian publishers to tap into modern e-publishing because according to her there are now advent of technological innovations like audio reading and e-books/e-learning.

“These days when you attend international conferences you see your counterparts from the western countries asking for soft or electronic copies, but Africans will be struggling for hard copies which they end up dumping at the airports when they are charged for excess luggage,” she said.

Prof. Ezeillo said the theme of the conference, “Re-strategizing the Strengthen the Nigerian Publishing Industry to meet Future Challenges,” was germane as it will help to provide solutions to the challenges facing the publishing industry in the country. In a keynote speech, Prof. Bankole Sodipo, a professor of law at the Babcock University, said the advent of ebooks, electronic publishing and digital technology has affected publishing indirectly, but stressed that conventional publishing and e-publishing can complement each other.

The keynote speaker said that some of the challenges facing publishers in Nigeria include; weak funding, which has forced many publishing houses to close shop; inadequate staffing/capacity building; cost of power; and piracy. He recommended that the NPA should engage the Federal Government/Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for possible intervention funds, as well as a partner with Nigerian libraries, universities, education ministries (in order to influence government policy on books), and international agencies for financial support.

 

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