The Business-to-business Programme of South African Book Fair (SABF) 2017 has been curated to contribute towards a united publishing and bookselling industry in South Africa, and to ensure that diversity is nurtured. Most of the sessions under the programme will be closed industry events, and those to whom they pertain are whole-heartedly encouraged to attend them.
We are aware, but maybe not acutely enough, that the library sector is a vital link in the chain of getting books into the hands of those who need them. Very recent research undertaken by the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) shows that libraries remain the preferred way of accessing books for the majority of South Africans, and the SABDC therefore wishes to ensure that libraries and their role are given the recognition due to them at the Fair.
In view of the library sector’s key role in the South African book industry, the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) will facilitate a seminar between industry and library leaders around the processes and business imperatives of the book sector, and library requirements and procurement. Besides industry and library leaders, the Department of Arts & Culture, Basic Education and National Treasury are being invited to these imperative sessions.
Nikki Crowster, LIASA President-Elect and Chairperson of the SABF Steering committee, speaks on the importance of stimulating an increased flow of books from producers to institutional consumers:
“A quick check on the collective global wisdom of the internet advises that a book fair is, largely, an exhibition of books by mainly publishers and booksellers, held to raise public awareness and engage in commercial activities. This description does not begin to reveal the richness of opportunity, or the diversity of the role players, in the book value chain. It also does not even hint at the main intentions of South African Book Fair 2017, which are to participate in the conversations about African and South African writing; to promote local authors and books; to reveal what’s happening on the literary scene; to examine the research on South African reading behaviours; and to be part of the current dialogue on transformation.
“LIASA represents the library and information sector (LIS) and as such is a key player in the book value chain. Recent engagements it has had have provided it with insights into other players’ spheres of activity and have spurred it on to focus on sector engagement. Interactions such as these enrich our understanding of the bigger picture that leads to the production of books – and present opportunities – to better serve our individual sectors.
“The SABF is important to LIASA and to South African libraries as it provides the place and space for the airing of opinions and the sharing of information, and for varied perspectives on the concerns raised. Differing views abound: libraries are gatekeepers to the acquisition of inventory; library collections are not relevant or responsive to local needs; libraries know about self-publishing; books are expensive; local authors are still being exploited; and so on. These issues need to be aired and discussed, and the Fair will provide the arena for these exchanges.
“LIASA will be present – and participating fully – at the Fair. It will be there in order to learn and understand; to advocate for libraries and the profession; and to be part of the dynamism of the SABF as promised by the vibrant creative elements and line-up of the programme.”