NewsWest AfricaNigerian aims to revolutionize reading in Africa with e-books platform


Posted on Thursday, 08 June 2017 15:41

Nigerian aims to revolutionize reading in Africa with e-books platform

By Reuters

 A model holds an e-book reader. Photo: Kathy Willens/AP/SIPAOkechukwu Ofili is an entrepreneur in Nigeria investing in digital technology to get more people to read books.


The 36-year-old runs Okadabooks - an e-books service that offers authors a platform to upload their work and clients to buy and download books online at an affordable fee.

Okadabooks was started in 2013, inspired by a dream where Ofili says he was riding a motorbike taxi or okada, weaving through heavy traffic in Lagos.

He wanted to find a way Nigerians could bypass the red tape that comes with publishing and make it easier for authors to distribute their work.

Made for the African market, Okadabooks has over 100,000 members today and is available as an app.

"We have over 13,000 books on our system and what we have done is, we have created a way for Nigerian authors particularly, to put their books and share their books with a large group of people and we currently have over a 125,0000 users, and we have different books from political books, to romance novels, to fiction and non-fiction books. All you have to do is click on the book you want, you can buy the book for 1.50$ to 6.14$. It's very seamless, the process once you buy the book it downloads it and then you can read the book, so here it is," said Ofili.

Okadabooks sell books for as little as a quarter of the price paperback books cost in stores.

Users pay for the digital books by card or mobile money transfer services available in Nigeria.

Promote a reading culture

Authors earn 70% royalties on each sale.

Ofili who is also an author, artist and engineer says his business is yet to meet its full potential and that he often faces difficulty providing the service because of poor infrastructure.

Ofili says he wants to promote a reading culture in Nigeria and beyond with his library.

In 2006, Nigeria's census estimated the country's adult literacy rate at 54%.

The state of the reading culture in Nigeria's educational system is partly blamed on poorly equipped libraries and under qualified teachers.

Sally Dadzie is an author whose work is published on Okadabooks.

"I really like reading digital books on Okadabooks because it's very convenient I don't have to carry any big books around and stuff like that. For of course, everyone says they like the smell of books but -- then sometimes you can't help it. There are some books I can't carry around. There are some books because of their title you don't want to carry around because you don't want people to judge you. So it is easy to just read on your phone and nobody will intrude and stuff like that," said another Lagos resident, Ojhojho Omorotionmwam.

Ofili is looking to grow his client base further, providing a wider variety of books for all ages and showcasing more authors to audiences across Africa

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