There is a myth that says Africans do not read and if you want to hide something from them put it in a book. A Lagos-based start-up company, Bambooks, is out to prove that these statements are indeed false and that Africans especially Nigerians love reading books.
On Thursday 22nd November, Bambooks held a Press Conference to launch their mobile application, which stands as Nigeria’s largest digital library.
Bambooks offers users access to thousands of eBooks, magazines and comics from any internet connected device including mobile phones, tablets and computers. From romantic fiction to entrepreneurship, self-help, religious, and educational books, there’s something for every reader. Users simply go to the website or download the Bambooks mobile app from the Google Play store or App Store for free and sign up to start reading. Moreover, Bambooks offers an affordable membership plan that gives users unlimited access to the library; with a N500/per month and an annual plan of N5,000/yearly, users can subscribe using their debit cards or bank accounts.
Bambooks is a subsidiary of iConcepts, a leading technology company that pioneered the mobile content business in Nigeria and launched some of the first VAS services in the country such as CNN Breaking News alerts, Sky Sports, ChannelsTV news and Ring back Tunes. Their subscription services generated over $15m in revenues for the mobile operators in an industry that grew to a market size of $250m.
Nigeria has the largest mobile market in Africa with over 160 million connected lines and 100 million mobile internet users. With plans to expand across Africa, Bambooks is eyeing the 450 million subscriber base which is expected to grow at 5% CAGR over the next few years. The penetration rate is forecast to reach 50% by the end of 2023 and 52% by 2025. According to Seun Ashaka Head of Content Acquisition, “Information is available to anyone that has access to the internet and mobile phones have become so smart you can do almost anything with them. We estimate the publishing industry across Sub Saharan Africa to exceed a billion dollars in annual revenues by the end of 2018 and expect authors on our platform to earn a significant share of the market”.
It is a well-known fact that distribution of physical books is a major challenge in Nigeria with little or no bookstores and libraries across major cities in the country. These infrastructure problems lead to low literacy levels and poor reading habits as many Nigerians don’t have the resources to travel long distances or buy physical books at prices way above their purchasing power. Scarcity of books also fuels the increasing trends of piracy with annual revenue losses to legitimate content owners running to the hundreds of millions of naira. Bambooks solves all these problems through their digital publishing platform and hopes to inspire a new generation of writers and content creators.
For Ugo Okoye, Founder & CEO of Bambooks, “Bambooks will not only entertain and educate people but also improve literacy levels, break the cycle of poverty and create a better future for Nigerians”. Bambooks also seeks to empower local authors by distributing and monetizing their craft across Nigeria and the continent.