Today, there are tons of mobile applications that enable book lovers to access various types of books, depending on their genre of choice.
As readers seem to enjoy what may be sometimes unlimited access to books, the same can’t be said for the writers of the same book.
The satisfaction a reader derives from consuming a book ought to be the same as the writer getting value for his or her work through the inflow of cash generated from the consumption of their books.
Many writers especially the budding ones don’t have many opportunities to monetize their talent. However, a Nigerian social network platform, InstaNovella, is changing that narrative.
InstaNovella is connecting African writers with readers, such that writers would be able to generate income from their skills, while also seeking to build social communities around stories from established and upcoming writers in Africa.
The social platform was founded in June 2020 by Dandy Jackson Chukwudi and Awaji-Itimikpang Abadi, with the aim of serving African writers through the publishing of their stories and helping them get more connected with other readers and writers.
Nigeria’s reading culture
Commenting on Nigeria’s reading culture, Jackson explained that the present day reality shows that demand for literary fiction in the country is low.
“It’s unclear if it’s about people not wanting to read for leisure, or in fact not having access to fiction.”
Books have become increasingly expensive in the country as bookshops have shuttered, and with an adult literacy rate of 51%, it’s not surprising that some supporters of literature in the country are concerned about how novelists might fare once their books are published.”
Stating further, Jackson said that the reading culture in Nigeria is poor, ”Forget the number of books you see being sold in traffic and our global acclaim for excelling — Nigerians read only when they have to.”
According to Jackson, students see it as some sort of necessary evil and it becomes harder when you have to deal with the many distractions and challenges that come with being an adult and living in a country like Nigeria.
However, he believes that the Nigerian reading culture is getting better by the day, given the computer age and the advent of ebooks.
“Nigeria has a limited number of bookshops, and printing books domestically is a difficult and expensive process. Ebooks are easier to distribute, as people only need the app to download as many books as they want.”
InstaNovella and its challenges
Explaining how InstaNovella works, Jackson said that the platform enables contributors to create and share stories using text, video, audio and music.
“We are attempting to keep Nigerians reading, albeit in non-conventional forms. Not only this, most people do not know about our reach cultural heritage here in Africa; InstaNovella then would be a portal to project our cultural heritage via Literature to the whole world.”
While speaking about challenges encountered in deploying the InstaNovella solution, Jackson noted that the main drawback is funding. Funds needed to scale through.
Some weeks ago, the social platform went offline as it was undergoing massive traffic according to Jackson.
“InstaNovella itself is a free portal; no registration needed — for now at least and everything is free! So, as students, we are just struggling to scale up funds for more developers and of course to keep the service life.”
On how social media can enhance reading culture in this part of the world, Jackson commented that with millions of Africans on the internet spending time on different social media networks, if at least a significant number can register on InstaNovella, a social community with the interface for ‘cruising’, Jackson is confident that Africans would get ‘addicted’, to InstaNovella, They’ll be ‘cruising’ on e-books!
Jackson is currently pursuing a career in Business Administration, while Abadi is also an undergraduate of Civil Engineering. Both of them are passionate about writing.
They both believe that if they can go into the field of Literature irrespective of their background, anybody else can venture into the field.
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