By Patience Gbeze/Peggy Sam, GNA
Accra, Dec. 7, GNA – Mr Elliot Agyare, the President of the Ghana Publishers Association (GPA), has said the book publishing industry in country stands at a critical junction.
He said the global industry is undergoing tremendous change, struggling to keep up with globalization, the advent of the worldwide web, global logistics and all other forces that have destabilized a one established, stable industry with rich heritage, standards and values.
He said in Ghana, “the situation is probably stacker because we also face an existential threat to our very surviving as individuals publishing companies, as a collective industry and also faced major challenges to our credibility and relevance as an association from forces within and without”.
Mr Agyare, who was speaking at the 42nd Annual General Meeting of the GPA, said it seems that the great expectation, the lofty goals and objectives that were the underlying foundations in the collaborative efforts to have a Textbook Development and Distribution Policy (TDDP) for Ghana has become almost a mirage.
He said the policy was expected to usher the book industry into Golden Age in book publishing and expressed the hope that Review Committee would complete its work early enough before the pressure to purchase books forces the adaption of temporary measures that would undermined the effort to get a truly revised TDDP that addresses most of the implementation bottlenecks in the original documents.
This year’s AGM was held under the theme, “Expanding the Ghanaian Publishing Frontiers Beyond the textbook Market”, and it brought together all stakeholders in the sector to take stock and brainstorm on the future of the industry.
“These are times of grave uncertainty; we do not know for instance when the new syllabuses for Primary Schools will come out, we are not too sure what subjects we will be asked to write books on and we are also hearing that the orientation of the curriculum is changing profoundly from what we are used to,” he said
“…But in the midst of all these, we may be creative and are ready to look beyond the uncertainties of the textbook market”.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, said the introduction of the free SHS, had increased enrolment in schools across the country, thereby expanding the demand base of publishers.
He urged the association to partner with government in making textbooks and other books accessible to students.
Mr Ahenkorah said there is the need to respond to the policy through massive publication of supplementary readers and other relevant books and discuss ways of promoting reading in the country.
“It is important to build partnership with universities and other allied research institutions to expand your reach in publishing journals and other materials,” he said.
He also urged them to pursue business ventures with technological companies to get their publications online, adding that, it would help expand beyond textbooks as well as improve businesses.
“Exploring the online market could also be beneficial in your quest to expand into other areas apart from textbooks….roughly, 90 per cent of our mobile time is spent using applications, and according research, an average adult smart phone user spent an average of 73.8 hours a month on applications, which comes to a little under two hours, thirty minutes a day”.
He said it would be business suicide not to take advantage of the online market space, adding that, “When you take these bold moves, government could support you with all the necessary incentives”.
Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, the President of Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), and the former Chairman of the National Media Commission called for collaboration between GAW and GPA to work out a campaign plan, including implementation strategies, for reading.
He announced that GAW had already established GAW Schools Outreach Programme, which aimed at forming literary clubs in all high schools in the country and called for alliance between GAW and either the Ghana Book Publishers’ Association or willing publishers.