It was barely six weeks ago that Publiseer, celebrating its first birthday, launched its first operation outside homeland Nigeria, with a virtual expansion west into Ghana.
Now it heads east, into Kenya, with a further expansion south to South Africa planned.
It’s a much-needed boost for Africa’s would be self-publishers, who have very few options to either read or sell ebooks.
Only Kobo of the Big 5 western ebook stores offers pan-African reach, albeit negated by its failure to offer localised payments or partner stores. Kobo Writing Life offers a potential portal to upload ebooks to sell globally, but as with buying, so with selling. Receiving Kobo royalties is a major hurdle.
Nook of course is now US-only, while Apple offers no ebook access to Africa and no way to get paid for sales.
Amazon allows the Kindle store to be accessed in a handful of countries, like South Africa, with surcharges, but elsewhere on the continent the Kindle store is not visible. Google Play has only two African stores, in South Africa and Egypt.
A handful of African countries have domestic ebook stores – Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria, Egypt and South Africa, and Ghana has its own audiobook operation, AkooBooks, while Sweden’s Kitab Sawti offers audiobooks from a base in Egypt, but broadly speaking, outside these countries, there is simply no ebook infrastructure on the continent to support the development of ebook embrace.
In home-country Nigeria Publiseer faces competition from the well-established domestic ebook retailer Okada, which has far more books and authors but as yet has shown no interest in expanding beyond its borders.
But Publiseer is a different bag altogether. It acts as a distributor rather than selling direct, helping authors upload books than can then be sold around the world. And it also lets musicians upload music.
Originating in Nigeria courtesy of twin brothers Chidi and Chika Nwaogu (one an author, one a music artist, of course), Publiseer made its mark in its early months when it became Africa’s first member of the International Publishing and Distribution Association.
Now comes news that Publiseer has set up a virtual base in Kenya, whereby authors and music artists in Kenya can access Publiseer’s facilities and receive localised support via WhatsApp. South Africa will be next, say the brothers.
After that, well, we’ll have to wait and see what other surprises the Nwaogu brothers have in store.