There’s an age-old saying that “If you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book.” However we beg to differ. Black people are not to be taken in such a bigoted stereotypical fashion as we are not a homogeneous collective following some herd instinct as people are led to believe. That said, the reading culture in most of Africa is quite low owing to a low standard of living compounded with the high cost of books and not knowing where to buy them. To mitigate the scarcity of African literature, a number of individuals and organisations have taken to the internet in a bid to increase readership on the continent. Below are a select few online stores where you can purchase strictly African content preferably in e-book format.
We have used the Websites’ own narrative as to what their vision was on setting up the online stores, apart from a few instances where we chipped in to make the wording less verbose. This is by no means a comprehensive list. Feel free to share in the comment section any websites we missed.
Turn The Page is a pathway for readers to buy and contribute to and/or review contemporary works of literature from all over Africa.
They also curate opportunities currently available for ardent readers such as notable bookshops and libraries, and, for struggling writers, by promoting their works.
Turn The Page also develops an up-to-date calendar of marked, annual and upcoming events, lectures, meetings, and/or festivals which bring together readers, writers, publishers, and investors in the arts, culture and books industry from across Africa.
MixaKids is an innovative digital publishing platform for e-books and other content authored by children. Children are able to write and publish their creative stories and other compositions as e-books earning an income from their published works in the process.
MixaKids Expo 2015
“We all live and die by the stories we tell. And that is what the Magunga is all about; we tell stories. This is the theatre of stories untold.”
The Magunga is a uniquely Kenyan online bookstore/literature blog/website promoting African literature in the form of fiction/non-fiction novels, short stories and poetry collections, anthologies, e.t.c. The books can be delivered at no extra cost in paperback/hardback within Nairobi or ordered in e-book format on the site.
The seed of Digitalback Books was planted when Heinemann announced the discontinuation of the Africa Writers Series. DigitalBack strives to source, digitise and showcase as many of these stories as possible so as to offer readers the ability to access easily and at the click of a mouse, a comprehensive collection of books written on Africa, about Africa or by writers of African origin from across the world.
eKitabu [“Kitabu” is Swahili for “book,” Kitab or کتاب in Arabic, Kitab or कताब in Hindi, eKitabo in Luganda] has over 500,000 titles collected from educational publishers worldwide including books in Swahili, Arabic, Kinyarwanda and others approved for national curricula, with a growing list of languages and titles that scales to support new projects and countries where we work. The e-library is accessible globally and built to meet the highest standards for storage, security, delivery, and reporting for content creators—from independent local authors to the world’s largest publishers.
African Books Collective (ABC) is a non-profit Oxford-based, worldwide marketing and distribution outlet for 2,500 print titles from Africa, of which 800 are also ebooks – scholarly, literature and children’s books. Founded, owned and governed by a group of African publishers, its participants are 149 independent and autonomous African publishers from 24 countries.
“One web page for every book ever published. It’s a lofty but achievable goal.”
Open Library is a project aiming to curate a repository of every book ever pubished. To date some 20 million book catalogues have been added to the site among which are African books of course. We browsed through the site and bumped into books by Uganda’s MK Publishers.
Amazon is arguably the most popular online bookstore selling virtually all genres of books including African Literature. We scrolled through the African section and as is to be expected we found the usual bestsellers like Chimamanda, Chinua Achebe, Nnedi Okorafor and even lots more Chimamanda. Amazon allows for self publishing which means you will find a variety of books by unknown African authors who might be good enough for you to give their books a read.
Featured Image: Ezibota