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Piracy Cripples Book Industry as Struggling Readers Look Elsewhere

  • Irwin  Chifera

The late Chenjerai Hove's novel, Bones, is one of the best books ever written by a Zimbabwean writer.

The late Chenjerai Hove's novel, Bones, is one of the best books ever written by a Zimbabwean writer.

The Zimbabwe International Book Fair kicked off Monday with authors, publishers and booksellers bemoaning piracy which they said was affecting their operations resulting in revenue losses.

The fair kicked off with an indaba which brought together academics, authors, booksellers and publishers who were exploring ways of promoting a good reading culture in Zimbabwe as well as creating synergies in publishing and marketing books.

The indaba heard that new technologies such as the internet had disrupted ways through with publishers and booksellers conducted their businesses and there was now need for authors to harness new technologies to their advantage.

Author and bookseller, Milton Kwamwendo, said everyone in the book industry must explore fresh ways of remaining relevant in this age of new technologies.

“Piracy is not just piracy – piracy is a theft, you are stealing from the author, the market and the economy and so any work of art, production, of an author, so long as it is not rewarded in a just and equitable manner, that kills the industry,” said Kamwendo.

He said book piracy is seriously affecting all in the book industry and efforts should be intensified to stop the practice.

Prominent journalist and writer, Grace Mutandwa, laments the country's economic situation saying the general populace, as a result, is not buying books, relying instead on pirates.

"The situation in the country economically-speaking is very difficult," said Mutandwa. "If the economy is not doing well, it affects a whole lot of things, including writing of books, the publishing of books and other things."

She hopes the book fair will address some of the issues affecting Zimbabwe's writers today.

But College Press’s Samuel Ndanga said while new technologies had affected the books industry schools were still buying books from authorized dealers.

“As publishers our main market is the schools market. Because of the nature of exams and all they rely on text books because they are written to the current syllabus,” said Ndanga.

ZIBF director Obey Bvute, said despite the economic hardships the book fair had taken off well and the attendance was pleasing.

“Whatever is being discussed here is to make sure we reshape the agenda going forward for the book industry,” said Bvute. “A book is a product that can last time.”

The indaba continue tomorrow when delegates will look at various topics such as book piracy prevention methods, copyright law and safeguarding intellectual property and digital publishing, among other issues.

Exhibition of books and other material will start Wednesday in the Harare Gardens.