Mmegi Blogs :: Sebilo Book Services: A new piece in the publishing puzzle
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Monday 15 October 2018, 18:00 pm.
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Sebilo Book Services: A new piece in the publishing puzzle

I think all of us can accept that the publishing industry in our country is weak, and at the moment, with few to no school books being bought —it’s nearly dead. We lack any vibrant book buying public.
By Lauri Kubuitsile Fri 18 May 2018, 15:41 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Sebilo Book Services: A new piece in the publishing puzzle








We have no well-established book distributors. We have no trade publishers. And though for a while, the bookstores managed to survive by selling books to the government for schools, some years ago the government decided to buy directly from publishers therefore cutting off the oxygen to independent bookstores in the country. Sebilo Book Services is trying to use innovative ways to revive our publishing sector of the economy.

I had a chance to interview Kopano Ben Sechele about his company.

I asked him to tell me what his company does. He said, “Our company is primarily a bookshop, but doubles as a distributor, which means due to the fact that we get special discounts with some publishers, we’re in a position to give other bookshops wholesale prices on products from those publishers for them to then retail. We also do special projects that promote reading, such as Adopt A School,…Books As Gifts (Book gifting to celebrate special occasions, etc.), Buka ka Poso (book by post), (and) most recently creating book review platform or facilitating book reviews. We’re also keen on any consultancies that have to do with education or reading.”

You can actually go on their website and if you see books that you like and then you can pay them through various ways (EFT, e-wallet, or bank deposit) and then they will post the books to you. Eventually they are working on a plan (Buka Ya Poso) where you can see the books on their website, pay at the post office, and the books would be sent to you. This is still in the pipeline though hopefully it will happen soon. That could open a huge market for local authors’ books and for readers in most places who don’t have access to books.

On their website http://www.sebilobooks.co.bw/index.php, it says that they do ‘print consultancy’.  I asked Mr Sechele what that meant.

“Print consultancy means we can help anybody who’s at the stage of printing their works find a good printer at a good price. Between my partner, Lesedi Seitei, and I, we have over 20 years’ experience in the publishing industry…”

I

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asked him what he thinks needs to be changed to give life to the nearly moribund publishing industry in the country. “As far as I am concerned,” he said, “it all starts with political willpower because politics govern everything. If the President from today started… supporting reading as a means of achieving an empowered nation through reading this situation could change overnight.”

Sechele gave examples of how the government might support the publishing industry.  He suggested that through his ministers the President could change the way books are supplied to primary and secondary schools so that retailers participate.

Regarding the book market for tertiary institutions he said, “Competition authority may be more keen on a more equitable distribution of books in the supply of books at tertiary level so that the most lucrative market is not handed to just one big multinational supplier.

Students at tertiary level would not be given book money in their pockets, but would probably get cards that allow them to spend only on books but from a variety of different book suppliers.”

Sechele already believes that his company is having an impact. He told me, “So far we have facilitated company adoptions of schools across more than 25 schools and counting. We started the project in 2011 and some of the schools (went) from pass rates of as low as 37% ABC pass rates, to as high as the upper 80s. We have also distributed over 2,000 professional/motivational or inspirational (books) …in partnership with at least 10 different companies in Gaborone alone…”

They’ve also helped local authors. “We have supported local authors distributing their books, though sales have been modest we’ve had some success. We managed to distribute more than 500 copies for one author and more than a 100 for another. …Success in this area depends both on the book and our effort.”  Another exciting development is a book review television show they have started on Btv from 6:45am  to 7:15am on Thursdays.

It is companies such as Sebilo Book Services that may be the answer to our publishing woes, we can only hope.

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