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Link Love: Hans M Zell Looks at the Impact of Technology on Publishing in Africa

Hans Zell Publishing has published a preview version of “Print vs electronic, and the ‘digital revolution’ in Africa” by Hans M Zell. The article examines the impact of new technology on publishing in Africa and looks at some of the digital printing and publishing projects and initiatives on the continent.

Zell says that the view that local publishers embracing digital methods “could ‘revolutionize’ reading in the developing world” is simplistic and doesn’t take into account logistical issues such as piracy and the lack of local e-commerce platforms. He mentions that some technologies have been embraced more than others – such as print-on-demand and publishing mobile content. Arthur Attwell’s Paperight is profiled for being a project “that can turn any copy shop, school, or NGO with a printer to become a kind of print-on-demand bookstore”.

Zell also discusses the rise of digital self-publishing and includes as an appendix a review of recent literature on digital publishing in Africa:

There is a great deal of excitement nowadays about digital publishing on the African continent and, most recently, about e-book reading devices that may serve as a catalyst to foster a new culture of reading. The term ‘digital revolution‘ keeps popping up in dozens of articles and news stories; it is a term that has perhaps been used rather too liberally, sometimes for projects that are anything but revolutionary.

This article takes a critical look at the print vs digital debate in Africa, taking stock of the current position as it relates to electronic publishing and the use of electronic reading devices in (English-speaking) sub-Saharan Africa, and the rapidly changing publishing environment on the continent. It describes and critically examines a number of projects and initiatives that are concerned with digital printing and publishing, and provision of e-book reading devices.

Image courtesy Business Week


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