‘People buy books but don’t read them’
The call for improvement in the reading culture of Nigerians has again been brought to the fore, only in a different dimension: “People are buying books, but they don’t read!”
This was the submission of Samuel Assiamah, the chairperson of the Christian Booksellers Association of Nigeria (CBAN), Western Region, yesterday at the opening ceremony of the 17th annual Christian Book Fair holding in Lagos.
The theme of this year’s fair is “Read the book”. Last year, it was: “And the books were opened”.
Mr Assiamah noted that a lot of people have developed the habit of buying books but not reading them. This he said was evident in the kind of lives they live because if people read more books, their lives and character would be better. “We discovered that a great deal of people buy books but they don’t read,” he said. “Some have a lot of books in big libraries but the kind of lives they are living show that they don’t read (them).”
For Mr Assiamah, people should read the books they have bought and not just keep them as showpieces. “They should read the books they have bought. We are encouraging them not just to come and buy but to desire to read,” he said.
John Anthonio, former special adviser to Lagos State governor on special projects, who was the special guest of honour at the event, said while it is true that some books are expensive, other means could be used to gain access to them in order to improve the reading culture of Nigerians.
“What we need to do is have more libraries and stock them up with books,” he said. “If more people read books, there would be economies of scale and the price of books would reduce. Also, there are new systems of printing that can be very cheap. And fourthly, you can read books online.”
He further noted that the quality of books printed in Nigeria was improving and that Christian literature was a major catalyst in developing a people and their nation.
“Christian literature is expanding every day,” Mr Anthonio said. “For example, around the world, 80,000 Bibles are sold every minute. In Nigeria, we are improving because more and more Christians are reading and more people are becoming aware. Wherever Christianity goes in any part of the world, that place becomes enlightened.”
Over 45 exhibitors are at Maryland Business Plaza, Maryland, venue of the fair, selling various Christian, motivational, children’s and other categories of books, as well as CDs and souvenirs. The fair is on till Saturday. Already, a growing number of readers and book lovers have turned out to patronise it. Sylvia Akpan, a student, said she would endeavour to read the two books she bought.
Some of the exhibitors who spoke to NEXT said they were impressed with the turnout of buyers. Mark Dauda, a sales executive of Wisdom Christian Bookmart, said he has been coming to the fair for the past four years.
“It has been a wonderful time with (CBAN),” he said. “It’s a good place to shop for books. Most of our customers get whatever they want when they come here.”
Similarly, Tayo Okunola, a sales executive of Dayspring Bookstores, said he has been a participant since inception. For him, the book fair is a good avenue to tell people the importance of reading. “We need to improve on the reading ability of every Nigerian,” he said. “We have been tagged in this part of the world as people who don’t normally read. This kind of event is good for sensitising people on the need to improve their knowledge.”