Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 21, December 1997 


The Zimbabwe International Book Fair 1997

Grace Mutandwa

Grace Mutandwa is Media Liaison Officer, ZIBF.

The Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) in 1997 broke all records in deals struck and attendance. The fair, which ran from 5 to 9 August, saw deals worth more than Z$3m concluded. More than 270 direct exhibitors and approximately 300 trade and professional visitors from 53 countries took part in the fair.

Dubbed the most important publishing event in sub-Saharan Africa, the fair drew a record attendance from the African publishing industry. With Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, C�te d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia represented, it was the strongest assembly of the African book industry world-wide.

South-South co-operation, which is a major focus of ZIBF's organisers, was brought to force with publishers and trade visitors from Belize, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Trinidad, India, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

ZIBF's major highlight of pre-book fair events, the Indaba, also witnessed an overwhelming attendance with almost 400 registered delegates (a four-fold increase over last year's attendance). Most delegates attributed the high attendance to this year's theme: `Access to Information'. The Indaba was opened with a scene-setter address from leading Zimbabwean writer, Yvonne Vera, who spoke about the communication rights and needs of children. The meeting then broke into four interest groups: national book policy, scholarship and research, information technology and community access to information. According to some of the delegates, they found the two-day Indaba rewarding, interesting and stimulating. It also set the scene for a lively book fair week. The overall theme for this year's book fair was `Libraries'.

The Indaba was followed by what has become ZIBF's major draw-card, the traders' days. Although most exhibitors expressed satisfaction with the business they had done, there were calls for a longer trading period. `But', noted Fran�ois McHardy, Director of the Witwatersrand University Press, `ZIBF is not only about buying and selling rights, it is our most important networking event.'

This year's fair also witnessed the launching of the Pan African Booksellers Association (PABA), a grouping of associations and booksellers from 16 African countries. PABA will promote viable book industries, establish training schemes, standardise ordering procedures and look into supplier relationships and discounts. It will also investigate unfair competition from publishers, wholesalers and their agencies, rationalise customers' trade discounts, examine the issues of government taxes, duties and levies and affiliate to trade associations.

And for the second year running, ZIBF hosted a marketing workshop described as a resounding success and the most real thing in bringing publishing alive.

Meanwhile most exhibitors have confirmed their bookings for 1998 and more are also pouring in from new exhibitors. ZIBF98's theme of `Children' has already sparked tremendous interest in publishers in Africa as well as in the developed world. Running from 1 to 8 August, the fair will have more traders' days following continued requests from trade visitors for more trading time. Next year will also see the introduction of a theme and focus on a particular country. To tie up with ZIBF98's theme `Children', the fair organisers will dedicate the central pavilion to the Kenya Children's Book Fair.

Further information on the Zimbabwe International Book Fair is available for readers in Europe, North America and the Caribbean, from Southern African Book Development Education Trust (SABDET), Margaret Ling, Hon Secretary, SABDET, 25 Endymion Road, London N4 1EE, England. Tel +44 181 348 8463; fax +44 181 348 4403; e-mail: Readers in Africa and the rest of the world contact: ZIBF, PO Box CY1179 Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe. Tel +263-4-702104/ 702108; fax +263-4-702129 [end] [BPN, no 21, 1997, p 7.]

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