The novel coronavirus (COVID- 19) pandemic, which came when no one or business ever prepared for it, has, in no small measure, been affecting the book industry from the day it was announced, just as it affected every other business. According to the President of Nigerian Publishers Association, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo, who is also the chairman, Nigerian Book Fair Trust, its effects began when the industry started cancelling book and reading events, as schools were shut down and movement and activities’ restrictions (lockdown) became the new normal to curtail its spread. Adedapo stated this in a statement where he said this year’s Nigeria Book Fair Trust (NBFT) and Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) will hold the 19th Nigeria International Book Fair via virtual participation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The intention, according to the statement, is to ignite the passion of the book industry stakeholders, open up opportunities for them beyond Nigerian shores by creating an online presence, promote books and reading culture irrespective of the threat posed by the pandemic virus by providing an online platform that will avail participants replica (if not better experience) as can be enjoyed at a regular book fair. This will be Nigeria’s First Virtual Book Fair and it is a free-to-exhibit and free-to-attend event with the theme: ‘Information Technology as a Panacea for the Book Industry Sustainability Amidst COVID-19 pandemic’.
The event is scheduled to hold from September 1 to 7, with embedded and interesting programs such as the book fair conference, panelists discussion, exhibition, book sales, children programmes, buying and selling of rights, networking and several mind-blowing webinar sessions organised by various key stakeholders such as authors, publishers, printers, booksellers and librarians, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), NERDC, amongst others. He iterated the call on the Federal Government to support for the book industry, stressing that: “The book industry remains the major driver of education and literacy in Nigeria, as it covers the development of content. Books do not only educate our people, they also increase their literacy level as well as promote peace in society.”
He added that the book industry needs great help and massive support from the Federal Government. Adedapo, who is also a member of the Executive Committee, International Publishers Association, Switzerland, said: “Since the coronavirus began to dominate the news space, the book industry immedi a t e l y took a direct hit and, five months after it started, the industry has kept reeling from its effect.
The pandemic has paralysed the entire book chain,” “The questions then arise: what is the state of mind of the originator of book content or writers? What have the publishers been doing to survive? What is the state of the businesses (Publishers) that help package good contents that they deliver to the intended readers, either for examination purposes or others like leisure reading or entertainment, amusement, enlightenment, etc?
“What has been the state of libraries? When will they ever be open to the public in this era of partial lockdown? “COVID-19 is currently presenting the book industry with enormous challenges. The industry needs great help and massive support from the Federal Government. In fact, helping the book industry’s value chain to bounce back as soon as possible is synonymous with sustaining education and literacy.
“It is disheartening to know that the fate of authors, publishers, printers, booksellers, librarians (the entire book chain) hangs in the balance and depends on the timely responses received especially from the Federal Government.” The conference keynote address would be delivered by the President of International Publishers Association, Switzerland, Huago Setzer. The event would be opened for over 10,000 participants.