Thursday, November 30, 2023

Okada Books will close shop on November 30, 2023

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  • On November 30, 2023, Okada Books, a Nigerian digital publishing and bookselling platform, will shut down due to challenging macroeconomic circumstances. 
  • Per a statement on X announcing the shutdown, the company looked into several options to maintain its virtual bookshelves, but the challenges are insurmountable. 

According to its website, Okada Books, founded in 2013 by Okechukwu Ofili, has helped over 8,000 writers become authors for free. 

On the platform, anyone can publish, but the publisher needs to have the authority to sell it. The platform receives a 30% commission upon publication, while the author or publisher gets a 70% commission.

More than 20,000 books are available for download on the platform, which can be read offline or online. While about 80% of the books are free, 20% are not. 

Ofili founded the platform after struggling to receive money for a book he had written.

“The problem was not selling the book, the main issue was collecting the money after I had sold the book. I would visit the bookstores and they would keep telling me to come back later or that the manager was not around,” he told Disrupt Africa in 2017.

After producing and selling books from his Blackberry, he decided to build OkadaBooks to provide an avenue for more authors to earn from their writing. Running predominantly on an Android application, it took a 30% commission from its authors.

According to its website, more than half a million users had access to a library of more than 50,000 books and read for 84 million minutes. In 2017, it was part of an impressive Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa cohort that included Babymigo, PiggyVest, Riby, Kudi, and Thrive Agric.

Nigeria’s reading culture

Over time, Nigeria has seen a decrease in its illiteracy rate. According to a report from 2021, the literacy rate was 77.62%, with a 0.13% annual increase in the same year. Yet, Nigeria has one of the lowest reading cultures worldwide. 

Nigeria’s reading culture has been declining over time due to several factors, including limited book availability, inadequate educational resources, and a preference for other forms of entertainment.

Moreover, technology has impacted how Nigerians consume content. They consume content through various channels, including television, computers, mobile devices, and the Internet. 

Per a BusinessDay Research & Intelligence Unit report, Nigerians consume a lot of video content; 58% of videos viewed on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones are TV show episodes or clips. However, only 42% of respondents listed reading as one of their favourite forms of entertainment.

The report highlights that Nigeria’s youthful population, which is increasingly tech-savvy, and the country’s rising mobile penetration have both played a significant role in propelling the country into the digital era. 

For context, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reported that as of July 2023, there were 159.5 million active Internet subscribers in Nigeria across mobile, fixed, and VoIP networks.

What’s more, due to social media and search engines in particular, information is now shared and distributed more quickly than it has ever been.

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