A new edition of the African publishing and book culture repository is now freely accessible. This database provides quick access to key literature about many aspects of book culture, publishing, and book development in sub-Saharan Africa. We highly recommend you check out this resource!

Founded by Hans Zell in 2021, the repository aims to provide a kind of mapping of the past and is specifically geared toward researchers and educators across Africa. It currently offers free access to over 1,200 fully and critically annotated records.

In terms of coverage emphasis, it covers fairly recent studies (2000-2023), that are accessible online. A selection of earlier studies and documents on the African book industries (1960-1999) have also been included, with an emphasis on digital ones. A good number of these – mainly journal article – are available in digital formats, while some others (books, collections, or conference proceedings) should be accessible in person in academic and university libraries.

Since the publication of the initial pilot edition in 2021, the new edition includes an additional 232 records – the majority of them articles and other documents published during the course of 2022 and 2023. The goal is to transform the repository into an online database about Publishing & Book Culture in Africa – a virtual network, supported by a website. This will bring together researchers/educators across Africa, and serve as a platform to link researchers, as well as access databases of information about publishing in Africa.

While not an inter-active online database at this time, searches for literature by author, subject/topic-specific, or country-specific, can be made by using the Ctrl+F function (Find) in the document. For example, typing “Nigeria’”into the search box/navigation panel will find any text/records in titles of articles, reports, blog postings and other documents; or if they form part of the annotations/abstracts, containing the word “Nigeria”. The same search function can also be used to search for names of authors of articles; or those mentioned in interviews and publisher profiles.

Hans Zell has been author, editor, and publisher on African topics for over five decades, and has written extensively on many aspects of publishing and the book sector in Africa. He was the founder of the quarterly bibliographic and book trade journal The African Book Publishing Record, which he started in 1975 and edited until 2002. In a part-time capacity, he was the Senior Consultant to African Books Collective Ltd from 1986 to 1995, and between 1979 and 1995 also acted as the Secretary to the Managing Committee (the Jury) of the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa.

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