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Leserskring Starts iBhuku, a Local Version of “GoodReads”; and Kalahari Gets into the Self Publishing Business


Kalahari.netLeserskringAlert! Much is afoot in the world of books over at the Mother Ship.

Said Mother Ship being, of course, the Naspers gebou / Media24 building on Cape Town’s foreshore, pictured above, where sits the nerve centre of the greater Media24 empire, which includes, in its brood, the e-commerce site and the country’s biggest “book club” (really, so much more, and indeed less, than an actual book club), Leserskring, aka Leisure Books.

Both hatchlings have introduced innovations into our world of books recently: namely, a new social network called that mimics, in part, the world’s biggest readers’ site,; and an e-distribution solution for self-published authors that works regardless of whether books have ISBNs.

iBhukuiBhuku is a Leserskring project that debuted only a few days ago but already has a sizeable membership, a portfolio of virtual book clubs like “Twilight-lovers” and “Horror-lovers” (SL Grey, are you listening?) that broadly conform to the Leserskring “popular reads” profile, and a timeline of user activity that’s currently a bit slow-moving but undoubtedly will pick up as the membership builds.

BOOK SA can’t but help wonder whether Leserskring knew that, by using the term “ibhuku”, it was trampling on territory already established by Byron Loker over at Blogspot.

So far, it would seem there’s very little SA Lit on the network – although there is an Ena Murray book club – but, again, the project has just kicked off.

iBhuku takes the first few steps, in South Africa, down one of the likelier paths of “the future of bookselling” as digital publishing and social networks converge, so kudos to Leserskring for getting it off the ground. Now, about that SA Lit…

Meanwhile, over at, there’s big – by which we mean BIG – news for self-publishers. Gary Novitzkas, the GM of “Customer Experience” at the e-retailer, explains:

“It is extremely difficult to establish relationships with major distributors and book sellers directly. Through our marketplace, is now offering any publisher a distribution and selling alternative. Authors and other sellers can sell their printed self published books on marketplace, regardless of whether they have an ISBN number or distribution deals in place or not.”

The service to self-publishers appears to be no different than that offered to all sellers within Kalahari’s new marketplace platform – it’s just that no one thought to spin the marketplace as an outlet for authors until now. Notably, however, Kalahari is also offering to distribute self-published ebooks, which could be quite a boon for authors who don’t wish to keep stock (though we don’t recommend reading these ebooks on Kalahari’s own reader just yet).

For printed books that are self-published, the Kalahari marketplace system works like this:

  • Self-publishers have the ability to set their own price
  • Titles can be listed for free without cover cost
  • Self publishers can list books for free
  • levies a 4% commission on a successful sale
  • The seller is responsible for managing stock and take delivery
  • Buyers pay for postage

To get started, simply go to’s Marketplace and register. You’ll be able to sell your books direct to quite a large consumer base very quickly.

For e-books, as might be expected, the process is a bit more complicated. It involves third-party self-publishing services that are integrated with On the Dot – the major Media24 book distributor – including Crink (also owned by Media24) and independent outfits like Mousehand. If you take your manuscript to any such third party, you’ll be loaded on to the Kalahari ebook system, and will sell through the third party’s account, with presumably a percentage of sales going to that account.

So that’s the latest from the Mother Ship – and BOOK SA has heard of quite a number of further offerings, particularly from Kalahari, to be introduced before Christmas, so keep an eye out!

Image courtesy


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Byron Loker</a>
    Byron Loker
    November 16th, 2010 @18:11 #

    Ben, thanks very much for the credit. I do find myself in dispute with Naspers here. As you know, I established the 'brand' in 2006, even going on to work with the National Library on a project under this banner, see

    Nasper took over the domain extension (and many others) when I failed to renew it (my mistake and something they are perhaps entitled to do), but what I feel may be at issue is their use of 'iBhuku' spelt as such and used for a concept/enterprise very similar to my original idea, without payment or any consultation with me. I consider 'iBhuku' and perhaps even '' to be my intellectual property, although this will have to be tested by copyright laws.

    I'll keep you posted on further developments.

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    November 17th, 2010 @14:33 #

    Byron, please do let us know of further developments on this.


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