Posts Tagged ‘Kenya Publishers Association’

Kenyan parents can now rest easy in the knowledge that book prices are not going to be increased, at least according to the publishers’ umbrella body.
In a press statement dated January 2, 2016, Mr. David Waweru, the chairman of Kenya Publishers Association (KPA), reports appearing in the media to the effect that book prices have been increased by up to 15 per cent are ‘false and alarmist’ .


“The  source cited is  not an industry insider and  no  effort was made  to verify this  false
information,” explained Mr. Waweru, who is also the CEO of WordAlive Publishers.
He added “The facts  are that  out of over 4,000  textbooks in the
Orange Book only  about 200 books are affected  by a  price increase of between  4 and 10 per cent.” He however did not specify which books are to be affected by the price increase.
“Whereas publishers would have
wished to  increase the prices to match the increase of the  costs of production and mitigate for the
weakening shilling, publishers instead  opted to  lower their  margins with  the increase of  4 to 10 per cent and keep a majority of  the titles at the same price level.  In fact, prices on some titles were  reduced,” he added.


Mr. David Waweru

Our sources however tell us that, on this issue, the horse has already bolted, as book distributors have marked up their prices and are advising bookshops to follow suit.
The real bone of contention, though is the Kenya government’s unpopular decision to slap VAT on books. “KPA once again  urges government  to
zero-rate textbooks as it is  immoral to  tax knowledge and  therefore raise  the  barriers  of access  to books,” said Mr. Waweru.
Kenya, he explained, is the second country in Africa, after South Africa, to impose VAT on books despite being signatories to international conventions that commit not to impose taxes on books.


This year’s Wahome Mutahi Literary prize is shaping up to be another epic battle between surgeon Yusuf Dawood and journalist Ng’ang’a Mbugua. They both have been nominated in the Adult English category of the award set to be delivered at the end of September.

My Land

Dawood’s book The Last Word, published by Longhorn a collection of essays that have been published in the Surgeon’s Diary column in Sunday Nation, has been nominated alongside Mbugua’s book This land is our Land, (Big Books) a collection of poetry. The other nominee is a book titled A Gift from a Stranger (KLB) authored by Waigwa Wachira.

The first contest between the two took place in 2011 when Dawood’s novel Eye of the Storm was nominated alongside Mbugua’s Terrorists of the Aberdare. Eye of the Storm took the ultimate prize with Terrorists of the Aberdare coming in at second. Literary observers agree that it was a close contest.


In 2012 the two writers were at it again. Dawood’s book Eye of the Storm was again in contention, this time for the Wahome Mutahi Prize against Mbugua’s Different Colours. This time Mbugua took home the prize. Mbugua is a veteran of the Wahome Mutahi Prize as Terrorists of the Aberdare had won the prize in 2010.

Ng'ang'a Mbugua (Left), is all smiles as he receives his winner's certificate from Prof Egara Kabaji, who was the chief guest at the ceremony

Ng’ang’a Mbugua (Left), receiving his winner’s certificate at a previous awards ceremony

The Wahome Mutahi Literary Prize is held every two years in honour of the late humourist and novelist Wahome Mutahi of the Whispers column fame. It is organised by the Kenya Publishers Association and held at the end of the annual Nairobi International Book Fair.

There are four different categories to be awarded in the Wahome Mutahi Prize, namely English Adult, Kiswahili Adult, English Children and Kiswahili Children categories. The two children’s categories were introduced for this year’s Award.

Nominees in the Kiswahili Adult category are Juma Namlola’s Kula kwa Mheshimiwa (JKF), Tom Olali’s Watu wa Gehenna (JKF) and Jeff Mandila’s Upepo wa Mvua (JKF). In the Children English category, the nominees are Charles Gecaga’s Kuti makes a Difference (KLB), Naomi the Detective by Joseph Muleka (KLB) and A Note for Alice by Mureithi Maina (Moran).

In the Kiswahili Children category the nominees are John Kobia’s Maskini Punda (KLB), Kiswahili Gani by Lilian Wairimu (KLB) and Bitugi Matundura’s Adhabu ya Joka (Longhorn). Winners in each category will take home a cash prize of sh50,000.

A win for Ng’ang’a will be a major boost for Kenyan poets at it will be the first time a collection of poetry will be winning a major literary prize in the country. Literary prizes in Kenya are seen to only recognise prose writers. The Wahome Mutahi Literary Prize however has demonstrated its flexibility when the prize was awarded to activist Okoiti Omtata’s play Voice of the People in 2008.

Check out our review of Mbugua’s poetry book.

The judging panel consists of Dr Tom Odhiambo, as chair, of University of Nairobi, Prof Wangari Mwai of Kenyatta University and Rose Mavisi of Catholic University.

The Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) is sounding out alarm bells; book piracy is threatening to erase all the gains made by the industry over the years. KPA chairman Lawrence Njagi says that book pirates are becoming more daring and with the availability of new technology they are now pirating, not just school set books, but any title that is capable of moving more than 300 copies.


For many years set books, for schools in Kenya, have been ripe targets for pirates as they are fast moving – a compulsory recommended set book can sell upwards of about 400,000 copies in a year – and the profit margins are equally high. While set books remain the most pirated in terms of sheer volumes, other titles regarded to be modest sellers are now being targeted for piracy.


“Book piracy is complicated by the fact that pirates use modern printing technology to produce their books. Piracy is no longer a poor man’s pastime. When pirates have the capacity of produce up to 50,000 copies, we are talking of people with huge financial muscle,” explains Njagi.

sun goes down

Njagi is referring to a case, in January last year a well-known commercial printer was found with over 50,000 pirated copies of Mstahiki Meya, a Kiswahili play, which is currently a set book. Had this printer not have been apprehended, these pirated books would have found their way into bookshops and street vendors, selling alongside genuine copies of the same.

Damu Nyeusi

Apart from Mstahiki Meya, the other heavily pirated set books are Kidagaa Kimemwozea: A Kiswahili novel by Ken Walibora, published by Spotlight. Damu Nyeusi na Hadithi Nyingine: A collection of Kiswahili short stories published by Moran. The River and the Source: An English novel by the late Margaret Ogola, published by Focus. When the Sun goes down and other stories: A collection of English short stories published by Longhorn. Caucasian Chalk Circle: An English play by Bertolt Brecht published locally by Spotlight. Mstahiki Meya: is written by Timothy Arege and published by Vide Muwa


Mr Simon Sossion, who is the KPA vice chairman suspects that foreigners are now involved in book piracy and that they are the ones engaging in offshore printing. To curb this offshore printing Sossion says that KPA members are in consultations with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) with a view to the tax body demanding a letter from the Kenya Copyright Board before they clear any consignment of books. “This way we shall have dealt a big blow to the offshore printers,” says Sossion

Previously it used to be a case pirated books being of inferior quality as they were being printed by backstreet printers.

Bookshops are naturally the places where people go to buy books and which explains why pirates take their wares there. Njagi explains that to make booksellers play ball they are enticed with generous discounts of up to 60 per cent. “Ordinarily publishers give booksellers a maximum of 35 per cent discount,” he says. “A greedy bookseller will get tempted by the huge discounts given by pirates. A pirate does not incur certain crucial production costs.”

To get an idea why these books are such magnets to pirates you have to understand that at any one time there are roughly 450,000 Form Four candidates each year, in Kenya and who are required to have all these books. Each book is studied over a cycle of four years meaning that by the time the four years are over a publisher will have sold, on average, half a million copies.


The average price of these books is sh450 so we are talking of sh225 million, per book, changing hands. This money is enough to get a would-be pirate salivating. Kakai Karani, who chairs the Anti-Piracy Committee at KPA says modern technology has made it possible for pirates to increase their efficiency. “We have pirates who are producing books that are almost similar to the originals, a thing that makes it quite difficult for the common mwananchi to tell the difference,” he explains.

KPA defines book piracy as the reproduction, by unauthorised persons, of books and other learning materials for sale to the public through bookshops, street vendors and in institutions of learning in contravention of the Copyright Act 2001.

Lawrence Njagi

Lawrence Njagi

To cover-up their tracks, the bookseller with pirated books will order a few genuine books from the publisher, and which will then be prominently displayed on the counters, but whenever an unsuspecting buyer comes asking for the book, they are given the pirated book, which is often hidden out of sight.

Karani blames weak enforcement of the law and lack of awareness on what piracy entails as the reason why the piracy menace is yet to be contained. “We need stricter enforcement of the anti-piracy and anti-counterfeit laws as well as stiffer penalties when these people are apprehended,” he says. He gives the example of the anti-piracy law that provides for a fine of between sh400,000 and sh800,000. “What happens when an offender is caught with books worth sh50 million, as has happened before?” he asks. “That is a mere slap on the wrist.”

Simon Sossion

Simon Sossion

The anti-counterfeit law on the other hand provides for a penalty of three times what a person has been arrested with. “In the case of a bookseller caught with 10 pirated books, they will be fined the cost of 30 books, which is not much either,” says Karani. “That is why we need for book piracy to be elevated to the level of economic crimes, which carries stiffer penalties.”

“There is also the issue of law enforcement agencies that are now aware of what piracy entails and therefore would not know what they are dealing with when they encounter pirated books, which are no different from original books,” he says adding the Kenya Copyright Board has been training police officers attached it. The training, he adds, needs to be expanded to all parts of the country.

A Kenyan, Mr. Lawrence Njagi is the new treasurer of African Publishers Network (APNET), the continental body that brings together African publishers from both English and French speaking countries. Mr. Njagi, who apart from being the chairman of the Kenya Publishers Association, is also the managing director of Mountain Top Publishers, was elected for a two year period when APNET’s general council met in Cape Town on the sidelines of the Cape Town Book Fair. Mr. Samuel Kolowale, who heads the Nigeria Publishers Network, was elected as chairman.

The new team also includes Mohamed Radi, from Egypt as vice chair. Members of the council are Mrs Christine Ekue from Togo, Mrs Gaulphine Nyirenda from Malawi, Mr Asare Yemoah Konadu from Ghana and Mr David Kibuuka from Uganda. The new team will be in office for a period of two years. The new team takes over from the previous office held by Brian Wafarowa, from South Africa, who was chairman and Ray Munamwimbu, from Zambia, who was treasurer.

In case you have forgotten Kenya still has a literary prize called the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature. I might also hasten to add that the Prize is administered by the Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) every two years.
Come October, at the end of the Nairobi International Book Fair a creative Kenyan will go home with a cool Sh150,000, this being the prize money for the award. I am hearing whispers to the effect that the prize money could be increased.
That being the case KPA has announced a three -judge
panel for this year ’s, yes they do have judges.
The panel is headed by Prof Henry Indangasi, who teaches in the Literature
Department of University Nairobi . The other members are Dr Tom Odhiambo also of University of Nairobi and Prof Wangari Mwai , the Director of Kenyatta University Campus in Nyeri . Mr James Odhiambo , the executive officer of KPA says this year’s award has attracted 19
Kiswahili titles and 33 English titles. “The judges panel should be able to announce the shortlisted titles by September , ” he explains .
“Winners will announced on October 1 during the 14th edition of the Nairobi International Book Fair.” And we shall tell you who the nominated authors are, come September. Er, we’re that good.

The Annual Nairobi International Book Fair, now in its 13th edition is set to take place from September 22 to 26, at the Sarit Centre in Nairobi. Maishayetu spoke to Mr Lawrence Njagi, the chairman of the Book Fair on what is in store for book lovers. Mr Njagi is also the managing director of Mountain Top Publishers.

Mr. Lawrence Njagi

Maishayetu: What does the 13th Nairobi International Book Fair (NIBF) have in store for potential visitors this year?
Lawrence Njagi: As the premier book show in the East African region visitors should come to the book fair expecting to see the best that the region has to offer in terms of books. This means that visitors should be able to interact with these books under one roof, and in a relaxed atmosphere, without being hassled by salespeople.
This is also about the only opportunity that book lovers are able to meet and interact with their favourite authors. What is more, these books are offered at highly discounted rates. This means that bookshops and libraries should take advantage of this offer to stock up. We will also be conducting seminars and workshops on relevant topics like intellectual property rights and digital publishing. Aspiring writers will also benefit from a seminar on how to successfully get published.
All in all, all visitors to the NIBF, from children, the youth and grownups should come to the Fair in the knowledge that their needs will be adequately catered for.
Q: You have been chairman of the NIBF for the last three years now, what have been your achievements so far?
A: When I took over as chairman of NIBF, the average number of visitors to the Fair was 6,000, by last year that number had risen to 17,000. We expect more visitors this year. Two years in a row, all the stands have been fully booked, and the demand for stands is growing. This means increased revenue for NIBF.
This year, we are having the largest number of international exhibitors at the Fair; five from India, two from Nigeria, one each from Senegal, China and Ethiopia. Of course we have the usual exhibitors from Uganda and Tanzania. This is not forgetting other international visitors who are not necessarily exhibitors. This is thanks to the aggressive marketing campaign, we have put in place.
In addition we now publish a free-to-distribute magazine which gives readers relevant information on the book industry.
Q: Kenyan publishers have been accused of being too textbook-oriented and therefore neglecting creative writing.
A: Before you heap all the blame on publishers, it is good to take a look at the bigger picture. A closer look at the system of education in Kenya reveals that it is too exam oriented; therefore putting to much pressure the student to pass exams at all costs. That rigid culture leaves little room for leisure reading, hence the reason many Kenyans don’t see the need to read after they are through with official schooling.
Q: Aren’t publishers contributing to the problem then?
A: First of all you have to understand that publishers are first and foremost business people looking to make maximum returns, and there is no denying the fact that textbooks provide a good source of profits to publishers. But we also have a moral duty to serve the emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of readers, and that is where non-textbooks like motivational and fiction fall. All we are saying is that the government needs to put in place policies that encourage leisure reading, a good starting point would be an overhaul of the current system of education.
Q: Still, that does not take away the fact that publishers do not market non-textbook materials well…
A: Let me say that when a book is not well marketed, both the publisher and author suffers as both have invested heavily in the publication. This is therefore a call to publishers to cast their net wider as far as marketing their books are concerned. Let publishers make use of all forms of media, print, electronic, the Internet even, to make noise about the availability of their books. In addition to bookshops, we at Mountain Top sell our books in all major supermarkets around the country. Authors too should come up with ideas on how well to market their books.
Q: You mentioned a seminar on digital publishing, are Kenyan publishers ready to embrace this new technology?
A: Publishers need to be dynamic and be able to embrace new technology as it comes along. However, the reality is such that majority of Kenyans still do not have access to electricity, and thus computers are out of reach for many. Stil, there is a generation of Kenyans that is quite well versed in digital technology and these ones have to be taken care of as well.

The Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) is calling for the submission on entries for this year’s Wahome Mutahi Literary Award. Both members and non-members of KPA are eligible to enter. Submissions should include five copies of the book, which are not returnable. The entry fee for members is Sh5,000, while that of non-members is Sh10,000. Entries should be received at the KPA secretariat by March 31, 2010. The Wahome Mutahi Literary Award was started by KPA in honour of the late humorist and author, for his contribution to the written word in Kenya. Judges pick out the book that use humor and satire to explore areas such as human rights, governance, etiquette and other relevant social issues. The first edition of the prize, awarded after every two years, was held in 2006 and was won by Onduko bw’ Atebe’s book, The Verdict of Death. Okoiti Omtata won the 2008 edition with his play Voice of the People.
These are the rules and regulations from the Kenya Publishers Association.
The Wahome Mutahi Literary Award is the brain-child of the Kenya Publishers Association. It was established in 2004 and is open to Kenyan writers whose work is published in Kenya. The prize will be given bi-annually to the author of the most outstanding new book that will use humor and satire to explore areas such as human rights, governance, etiquette and other relevant social issues in the following categories:
Adult Fiction:
a. English and
b. Kiswahili

The Prize will be presented during the 13th Nairobi International Book Fair to be held in September 2010.

The following rules must be adhered to:
1. Eligible entries for the 2010 Prize are those books published in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
2. Any original work of fiction written in English or Kiswahili will be eligible.
3. All entries must be submitted through the publisher.
4. In order to qualify, all entries submitted must be published in Kenya.
5. Generally, any book submitted should have a minimum of 48 pages.
6. Only published works are eligible
7. The quality of content will be the overriding criterion. The following however must be taken into consideration when submitting a title: quality of binding, cover design, quality of paper, quality of illustrations where applicable, and general layout.
8. Five non-returnable copies of the submitted title(s), accompanied by an entry form must be sent to the undersigned as soon as possible but not later than March, 31st 2010. A summary of the work and reasons for its suitability must be submitted together with the entry form.
9. The decision of the Judging Panel and the Awards Committee for the Wahome Mutahi Literary Award will be final. No further correspondence will be entered into in connection with the Award.

Mailing Address: The Executive Officer
Kenya Publishers Association
P.O. Box 42767, 00100

Physical Address: Kenya Publishers Association
Occidental Plaza
2nd Floor,
Muthithi Road, Westlands