Writers and organizers of this year’s Zimbabwe International Book Fair have expressed concern over the disappearance of a reading culture in the country.
Speaking during a poorly attended book fair underway at Harare Gardens, they said the disappearance of a reading culture in the country has negatively affected their royalties.
Beatrice Sithole, an author of five books, said most well-known Zimbabwean writers have failed to make a living through writing books due to lack of a reading culture which needs to be cultivated and nurtured among young people.
Jesesi Mungoshi, the wife of renowned writer Charles Mungoshi, added that her husband’s works are not even generating reasonable royalties. Jesesi said publishers always tell them that Mungoshi’s books are not being bought that is why they are not receiving reasonable royalties.
However, some writers like Musaemura Zimunya felt that Zimbabwe’s economic woes are to blame for lack of a reading culture in the country.
Sithole, the author of the novel “The Best Things in Life are for Free”, said she can’t blame the economy because people are buying food at fast foods outlets but find it difficult to purchase a five dollar book. Sithole said parents are to blame for lack of a reading culture as reading begins at home.
But Kundai Dinvora, one of the youths who is attending the book fair, defended young people being blamed for not reading much saying they just don’t read anything that comes their way.
Babara Mupingo, one of the book sellers representing Innov 8, agreed that reading culture is deteriorating saying it was due to social activities like the internet.
Zimbabwe International Book Fair chairperson Musaemura Zimunya attributed the low turnout at the book fair to the change of dates and the economic crunch being experienced in the country. Traditionally, the book fair is held in August but this year it was shifted when it clashed with the hosting of the United Nations world tourism organization’s general assembly.
Only 61 exhibitors out of the expected 200 are attending this year’s book fair.