BOOK DESIGNING AND ILLUSTRATION IN NIGERIAN PUBLISHING HOUSES (A CASE STUDY OF MACMILLAN PUBLISHING PLC)
- Background of the study
Book designing and publishing will constitute a wasted effort if worthy books are not placed in the hands of readers. The signs are that Nigeria is under-served and the potential book market largely untapped. Although various reasons could be adduced for unwholesome book reading development, publishers need to play their own part in changing situations by publishing books that readers can read and make sure that readers want to read them, and then put them within readers’ reach. Book marketing (and publishing) in Nigeria leaves a lot to be desired. To create a reading nation, Nigerian publishers need to operate within the marketing concept in their pursuit of profit and survival by satisfying readers. By so doing, the publishing industry should witness a tremendous change. A change that is not only beneficial to the book industry as a whole but the nation as well, since a reading nation is also a development-oriented nation (Arboleda, 2010). Publishing is a creative process through which different categories of books are published. It is a creative imagination of number of functionaries in the publishing house and those who are fairly distant especially the authors, freelance editors, designed compositors (typesetters), printers, paper and plate merchants, readers and a host of others. Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss publishing as a formidable succession of activities no one of which can by it be called publishing (Joseph, 2011).
Book publishing in Nigeria resembles that in other countries in some respects, but must need advance in many others in order to serve a nation grappling with illiteracy and low-level advancement in socio-economic variables, politics, science, technology and general well-being of the people. As in advanced countries, book publishing is controlled by a few publishers, which however are educational; and because of this inclination, perhaps, the perception of books as a means for academic attainment is perpetuated among the people. A vicious circle results from this misconception – while writers complain that publishers shun non-educational manuscripts, publishers show evidence of fruitless investment in the area. It is no surprise that a managing director of one the foremost publishers describes publishing as “this most challenging of the knowledge industries” (Olajide, 2005: 60). He is not alone, and his assertion is true of any publishing business, educational or not; thus Camenson (2002) begins his book Career in Publishing with this warning: “The field of publishing is exciting and competitive. There are risks and surprises, and sometimes, disappointments.” Valdehuesa (2008) agrees that publishers are risk-takers. Nonetheless, Nigerian publishers need to esteem their importance in society much higher than they do presently by seeing themselves as a member of a fourth estate that should direct certain aspects of development in Nigeria through information provision, irrespective of government’s level of attention or inattention in book development and reading. As succinctly put by Valdehuesa (2008: 710), “in the task of nation-building, one fact is often overlooked: A developed nation consists of developed people.” The implication of this assertion is that people will pursue development to the extent that they are developed. On the other hand, and more pertinent here, is that books and literacy are the means to developing people – people cannot become developed if their minds are not.
Established publishers seem overly preoccupied and content with the el-hi market, when they can develop imprints in other publishing areas. Publishers ought to monitor and respond to changes in the socio-economic environment, such as economic growth and downturn, and designing products accordingly. Furthermore, the government has implemented different forms of mass literacy programmes which publishers should buy into by monitoring trajectory of literacy development and presenting reading materials that will promote and sustain functional literacy. Writing about Ghana’s development goal in book publishing, Djoleto (2009: 42) avows that: The place of general book is to keep in motion the vitality of the generality of the book industry culture of the country. This would eventually lead to a full boom of the National book industry and the book patronage which must develop along with it. Then the book culture would have become inseparably merged with the day-to-day lives of each and every member of the entire community. The Nigerian publishing environment could be volatile sometimes, and as most business environments, presents opportunities and threats. Yet, publishers, individually and as a group, owe it to the developing nation to respond to those challenges and place books in the hands of people, while not losing their grounds.
However, the Nigerian publishing industry, in spite of having been severely affected by declining readership and unstable economy, shows development in the area of technological transfer which has led to the production of more appealing books; but not enough has been done in developing know-how in book marketing. Books should be promoted with the same vigour that beverages and household goods are promoted. If publishers employed trained marketers and exposed them to further training in bookselling, they would be in a good position to design strategies for book and reading promotion. In addition, few Nigeria marketers could benefit from research findings in communication and consumer behaviour in Nigeria, one of which is the influence opinion leaders have on people’s attitude and product adoption. Marketers need to know how people acquire and accept or reject information, ideas and beliefs, and how they use their knowledge and act on the basis of conviction. Furthermore, having identified the obstacles in book and reading promotion, publishers should aggressively lobby for government support in publishing books for, and breaking into, the various book markets. As Bordenave (2007:22) concludes, for “communication to be really effective, (it) must be organically integrated with such processes as conscientisation, organisation, politicisation and technification.” Publishers can take advantage of the new political dispensation and have a voice at the legislative assemblies. It is dangerous to remain at the present level of satisfying just a fraction of the educational book market when the rest of the world is gravitating towards electronic publishing and marketing; and importantly, using book products to affect lives, development and economy. The market must be created through expanded publishing programmes, improved book marketing know-how and aggressive promotion of reading.
1.2 Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Limited
Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Limited is an offshoot of Macmillan and Company (Nigeria) Limited. Incorporated on 23rd April 1965, the Company has grown over the years to become one of the household names among the publishing companies in Nigeria today. By the mid-50s, officials of the Macmillan and Company Limited in the United Kingdom started making occasional business trips to Nigeria. Such visits were undertaken principally to explore the book market of Nigeria for the growth of the British company. These visits however created local demands for their books, which were met through the few major bookshops then operating in the country. The publications of Macmillan and Company Limited, London, grew steadily in popularity but as colonialism was drawing to an end in Nigeria, the need for suitable publications by capable indigenous authors who reflect the Nigeria cultural setting became overwhelming. This, therefore, necessitated the establishment of Macmillan Nigeria. As pacesetters in the Nigerian Publishing industry, Macmillan Nigeria Publishers attention is focused on publishing of highly qualitative and competitive books. With strings of successes culminating in her expansive programmes and policies, the company is poised to take giant strides towards maintaining total quality services. Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Limited is committed to the building of:
- A free and democratic society
- A just and egalitarian society
- A united, strong and self-reliant nation
- A great and dynamic economy
- A land of bright and full opportunities
In achieving this set philosophy, the Company has always carried out the business of publishing in the most lawful manner while striving to maintain its traditional leading position
- Statement of the problem
A national book policy was established in 1988 with recommendations for a national book commission that would ensure the publication of books of wider interest. There were a number of seminars, workshops, conferences, special interest groups, and task forces established or convened at the instance of government or international agencies interested in publishing and willing to do something about the book crisis. Most of the publications needed in the tertiary institutions, especially the universities for teaching and research, continued to be imported from the USA, South East Asia and Europe. The 1978 Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree provided that at least 60% equity participation in book publishing must be by Nigerian nationals. With effect from that year, book publishing in Nigeria became indigenous, making it unnecessary to distinguish any longer between indigenous and foreign publishing in the country. Considering the enormous benefits and compliance with 1978 Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree, it became imperative to access the level of success that has been recorded. It is pertinent against this background for this research work to investigate book designing using Macmillan Nigerian Publisher Limited as a case study.
1.4 Objective of the study
The general objective of this study is to investigate book designing and illustration in Nigerian publishing houses (a case study of Macmillan publishing plc)
Specific objectives of this study are:
- To examine the availability and accessibility of book designing in Macmillan publishing plc to improving Nigeria educational sector.
- To investigate the possible constraints to book designing in Macmillan publishing
- To discuss possible ways of promoting book designing in Macmillan publishing
- To examine the possible future challenges to development of book designing in Macmillan publishing
1.5 Research question
- Are book designing available and accessible and accessibility in Macmillan publishing plc to improving Nigeria educational sector?
- What are the possible constraints to book designing in Macmillan publishing?
- What are possible ways of promoting book designing in Macmillan publishing?
- What are the possible future challenges to development of book designing in Macmillan publishing?
1.6 Significance of the study
- This study will activate the knowledge on the book designing in Nigerian publishing houses.
- It will provide useful information on how availability and accessibility of book designing in Macmillan publishing plc can improve Nigeria educational sector.
- It demonstrates to Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Limited the feelings of its clientele towards the type of book designing they provide for them.
- The recommendation to the made will be the one that if implemented will enhance an effective book designing in Macmillan publishing plc to its user.
- To enable adequate access and add to the literature review.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study is restricted to Macmillan Nigeria Publishers Limited. The possible constraints to book designing in Macmillan publishing house will also be investigated.
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