History of Printing and Publishing in Nigeria

Book publishing in Nigeria is one of the oldest businesses in the history of the nation. Before the 1914 amalgamation of the diverse peoples on the geographical entity named Nigeria, publishing had been in existence some 68 years earlier.

In 1846, that is, 168 years ago (2014-1846), the first printing press in Nigeria was established in Calabar, the present Cross River state capital, by Reverend Hope Waddell of the Presbyterian church of Scotland Mission. The primary aim of this press was to print Bible lessons but it was later used to print arithmetical books for schools (Ajibade 2003).

Much later, Henry Townsend of the Church of Missionary Society (CMS) established another press in Abeokua, the present Ogun state capital, to print the first newspaper in Nigeria which was known as ‘Iwe Iroyin,’ (a dialect newspaper) precisely in 1859, five years after the establishment of the first press in Calabar. CMS Press, which has published thousands of books in Nigeria, is a product of that seed planted by Henry Townsend.

From that time, publishing started growing in Nigeria with different objectives for the business. Sometimes, these objectives define the genre of books some publishers publish while others, undertake general publishing without bias.

Considering the long history of publishing in Nigeria, one would expect that today, the business should be competing favourably with international standards. Quite frankly, being in a business for 168 years is enough to have made the business a key revenue generation for government at all levels besides the economic empowerment Nigerians are expected to derive from similar opportunities provided by private operators and stakeholders in the business. Sadly, this is not so in Nigeria for many reasons. Get the book "Issues in Book Publishing in Nigeria"

Putting the necessary infrastructure in place is a challenge to publishing. It took Onibonoje Publishers, which marked its 50th anniversary in publishing in 2009, a long, tasking journey to arrive its present status. From operating as an individual, Mr. Gabriel Onibonoje, the owner of the company has grown to recruit not less than 150 workers today. Not many people can stand this test of resilience in business where infrastructure is a primary impediment.

Lack of technical personnel to manage and maintain machines for publishing is another challenge to this business. Taking a random sample across many printing presses, including the ones owned and managed by governments and their parastatals, the sorry sight of out-dated or grounded machines would naturally put off any light hearted comer into this industry.

Coming close to the above two problems is marketing. There is comparatively poor market for books in Nigeria for reasons including poor reading culture, poor information or publicity on available books or the new entries to the list of particular genre of books, and poor production of the book. Sunshine Bookseller is doing great to solve this problem

Poor production of a book refers to compromised book standard, where a publisher has to work within available author’s budget which most of the time would lead to inevitable compromise to reflect in the editorial standard (some are not edited at all), graphics quality, impression and paper quality and general finishing.

On and on, the list of problems confronting publishing in Nigeria can prolong but to say that there is no future in the business is to cancel its prospects.

DEGS LTD have equipped themselves with the knowledge of the business and the environment of their operations to devise most economical ways to run this business without caving in to impediments. This is why you can rely on their knowledge, experience and network for your publishing services.

What is your own perspective about Printing and Publishing in Nigeria? Use the comment box below.   

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