“Do not buy my book” Why I agree with Petina Gappah.

A Zimbabwean author called out a bookshop for overpricing her book. I found the move to be daring and refreshing. Here is why…

A creative tells people not to buy her work! It’s unheard off! Yet prominent Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah did just that. In a series of tweets, she called out a bookshop for overpricing her book and advised people not to waste their money on these overpriced books.

Very few creatives would publicly call out a “distributor” for fear of losing out on royalties. Petina is not worried about that. “I have agreed with my publisher that any book sold in Zimbabwe will not count towards my royalties,” she says

Who is Petina Gappah?

Petina Gappah wrote many critically acclaimed books such as An Elegy for Easterly, which won her the Guardian First Book Award in 2009. Other books include The Book of Memory, Rotten Row and Out of Darkness Shining light a novel. She is a former advisor to the current President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa.

What did I find commendable?

Petina Gappah wants her work to be read in her home country and this stood out for me. I strongly believe that creativity with a cause which looks beyond money is what we need in Africa. Such an exemplary lead is commendable from established authors like Petina.

We need more people to speak up for the creative industry and whenever possible our creativity must inspire the present and future generations about the possibilities that abound in the creative industry.

Despite people who are taking advantage of creatives making huge profits either by underpaying them or overpricing their work, the creative industry is still worth billions of dollars and employing many people. I think people must be encouraged to see value in their creative talents.

The global total revenue of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) is $2,250 billion, accounting for 3% of the world’s GDP. In Africa, CCIs generate $58 billion in revenues and employ 2.4 million people.

Sankalpforum.com

“Books are not luxury products”

Petina says there is no justification for pricing her latest book at USD50. “Books are not luxury products and should not be priced as such” she lashed out.

Many people who responded to Petina’s tweets revealed how expensive books are in Zimbabwe.

How are books by local authors selling in your country? Are they affordable and available? How willing are people to pay creatives in your country? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

In as much as I understand that bookshops are vital in distributing books, they should not rip off customers. Overpricing books stifles the author’s growth, after all, what use is a creative talent that is not being read, and critiqued.

Image credit/ Women Prize for Fiction

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