Public library to issue books in digital format
Posted Wednesday, November 30 2011 at 19:59
Local book publishers and libraries are turning to newer technologies to increase efficiency and uptake of reading materials to grow access.
The Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) is banking on the shift to add value by providing access to rare books, government reports and past newspapers in the first phase of the project.
Publishers are turning to ebooks to cut costs and improve margins.
“The margins for publishers will be higher even though prices for each unit will be lower,” says Ms Amolo Ng’weno, the managing director of Digital Divide Kenya, a digital and business process outsourcing company based in Nairobi.
“Using e-books, publishes can increase sales and there will be no books sitting on the shelves.”
Digital Divide Kenya is digitising a series of publications for the KNLS, which has been using mobile offices to reach remote locations.
Cost of printing
In the recent past, publishers have raised the alarm that books would be more expensive since the Government removed a tax cushion. An e-book is an electronic version of printed materials that can be read on gadgets such as Apple’s iPad, Kindle, Samsung Galaxy Note, and on phone.
Other organisations on the digitisation project are the public curriculum developer Kenya Institute of Education and Google in partnership with publishers. Besides reducing the cost of printing and distribution, e-publishing will eliminate the threat of piracy for local publishers, which takes over 30 per cent off their income.
A good e-books management system comes with tight security features that ensures that only those who pay get access.
“The initiative is one of its kind in Kenya and it is a welcome move that libraries and publishers should benefit from,” says Mr Omar Abdi, a librarian at KNLS. Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said that the drive by the local publishers to release their books in soft copies would reduce the reliance on foreign content.
“Currently 95 per cent of online content is all foreign which we need to change because the Government cannot build telecommunications infrastructure only to be used by foreign firms,” said Dr Ndemo.
The evolution of technology and changing lifestyles have inflated demand. “Most private schools are offering kindles and, it is evident in churches that most people carry their hard copy bibles but instead use the electronic readers.”
After the landing of the fibre optic cables, techpreneurs and governments have been in a hurry to build online clients, cashing in on fast-speed Internet. “Government organisations, especially, are moving towards digitisation,” says Ms Ngw’eno.
“The problem is that international portals such as Amazon, iTunes, do not have local content,” she said.