It was an improbable venture in every way, and doomed to failure by any western rationale.
Twin brothers, one a writer, one a musician, launching a business start-up that digitally published both literature and music with no up-front costs. In Africa.
Launched as recently as last August, Nigeria’s Publiseer this week reported reaching profitability in Q1 this year.
Publiseer offered the precise figure of $10,877.58 for its gains, advising it has added over 200 new releases in the past 30 days.
No, not a huge sum by western First World standards, perhaps, but not bad going for a digital start-up in an African country where we all know nobody reads and even fewer know what an ebook is.
But of course that’s nonsense. The reality is Nigeria has more people connected to the internet than any country in Europe except Russia, and is the eighth largest country in the world by internet users.
If ebooks are relatively unknown in Nigeria it’s because none of the Big 5 western retailers are there, as I explored a few days ago here at TNPS –
meaning it’s down to local players like Publiseer, Panacea and Okada to develop Nigeria’s online reading culture.
Publiseer is now pushing ahead with its expansion plans, starting with a Premium Distribution option whereby author suppliers can either upload for free and pay a percentage from their earnings, or pay an upfront fee and collect 100% of what is paid out by the retailers.
According to Nigeria’s Business Post,
Since its international popularity is growing exponentially, the company is making moves to expand its services outside of Nigeria.
In response to this, Publiseer has distributed the works of Canadian Youtuber Heidi Shai, American Jazz musician Ragtime Joe, and Missouri producer ANB Beats. In Africa, Publiseer has distributed the books of Cameroonian writer Juan Gutied and Zimbabwean author Godfrey Masanga (as well as) the works of A-list Nigerian artists like CDQ, Klever Jay, Erigga, and DJ Jozenga of RayPower FM.
Chidi Nwaogu, Publiseer’s CEO said:
Starting Publiseer, we weren’t focused on profitability as an early-stage company, rather, we were focused on customer satisfaction and retention. But at the beginning of the first quarter of this year, submissions doubled and thus our releases too. It’s good building something that meets a growing need, and which eventually makes lots of money.
Africa’s book market is reckoned to be worth $1 billion.