African Publishing Companion: A Resource Guide. Researched
and compiled by Hans Zell
ISBN 0-9541029-0-8 xii+246 pp. 297x210mm (A4)
wiro bound £80.00/$130.00 combined print and online version (not
available separately), 2002. Hans Zell Publishing Consultants, Locharron,
Review by Dafina Blacksher Diabate
Dafina Blacksher Diabate is at the Africana Studies and Research Center,
Cornell University, 310 Triphammer Road, Ithaca, New York 14850, USA.
+1 607 272 9249 (tel), email: email@example.com
February 2002 marked the release of another invaluable reference from Hans Zell Publishing Consultants. Aptly described as
a resource guide, this volume is densely packed with comprehensive information
on the contemporary African publishing industry. Eighteen distinct chapters
cover everything related to the book industry, from directories of writer,
publisher, and bookseller associations, to publishing statistics and
an annotated literature bibliography. Available in compatible electronic
and print versions, this guide provides updated information on a vital
sector of development.
The web-based online version demonstrates the
extensive capabilities of the internet by facilitating links to relevant
sites and allowing access to the full text of many articles and reviews
of books listed in the bibliographic guide. The publishers’ directory
is extensive and the electronic format enhances the potential for communication
by listing the email addresses of hundreds of publishers. While the
author acknowledges the ephemeral nature of email and website addresses,
he also arranges updates of the electronic version, a much more expedient
process in the electronic format.
If the online version marks the advantages of
contemporary technology, the print format affirms the permanence of
the traditional book. The spiral binding enhances its convenient use
as a desktop reference. The index, available in print version only,
helps identify the search item without requiring correct spelling or
terminology. It allows for much less restricted search of the entire
volume. Whether one is forced to use the print version because of limited
internet access, or only the electronic version is available while the
print copy is circulating among other patrons, each format provides
vital information and can be used independently.
Increased access to information is frequently
cited as one of the ways to enhance the viability of African publishers.
This content-rich tool allows users to employ the data to their own
advantage. Publishers seeking co-publishing opportunities can easily
access potential business partners in the directory. Also, publishers
can identify book promotion schemes with compatible goals and activities
by using the annotated listings of existing projects. Students researching
a specific topic will appreciate the bibliographic literature guide
identifying main issues and topics in contemporary African publishing.
By assembling sections on book development councils, donor agencies,
booksellers, and book fairs into one volume, this ‘publishing
companion’ fosters the development of the industry.
The introductory chapter and the preliminary information in subsequent
chapters clarify the scope and identify the best way to use the guide.
They also signpost the limitations. The volume is only available in
English and presents a heavy focus on publishing activity in Anglophone
Africa, which the author concedes in the introduction. The emphasis
on electronic listings excludes publishers without email addresses or
a web site. The choice to exclude short articles like those appearing
in the African Publishing Review supports the argument to publish online
versions of these extremely relevant articles.
In this substantial volume, Hans Zell documents
the expanding industry of book publishing on the African continent.
Such detailed information presented in an accessible format exemplifies
the standard established by the veteran publishing consultant. The duplicate
online and print versions facilitate the inevitable transition to increasingly
electronic formats. Industry professionals, student researchers, governments,
and international organizations can all explore unique applications
for this valuable resource. [end] [BPN, no 31, 2002, p. 25.]
to table of contents for BPN Newsletter 31, 2002>>