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SABF Day 1: The Ins and Outs of the Publishing Industry, How Dictionaries are Made, and the Launch of Soccer Secrets

The 2015 South African Book Fair kicked off with a bang today in the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg.

The early risers were treated to a talk by Oxford University Press South Africa on the importance of mother-tongue instruction at foundation phase level.

Professor Elizabeth Henning from the University of Johannesburg and Mrs Bulie Ndodane gave their views on multilingualism in schools. Henning spoke about the importance of teaching young students mathematical concepts like time, density, volume, space and so forth in their mother tongues. “Language has structure and function – there shouldn’t be too much of a mix in the early years,” she said.

At 9 AM everyone gathered in the foyer to be welcomed to the fair by Brian Wafawarowa, the Executive Director of the Publishers’ Association of South Africa, MEC of Culture and Recreation for Gauteng, Molebatsi Frances Bopape, and PK Naicker, Programmes Executive at the FP&M Seta.

WastedThe first session in the Brink room featured Wasted author Mark Winkler and Bookstorm publisher Louise Grantham.

The author and publisher gave advice to writers on how to get published. Grantham said that the number-one rule is to conceptualise your book as a product. She said that writers must identify the correct publisher for their book and do intensive market research to find out who the book is aimed at.

Winkler said that if a manuscript doesn’t adhere to submission guidelines it will be binned. His advice is to submit good, clean copy in the correct format.

In the next session, Kathy McCabe introduced the “Talking Stories” programme – a learning tool that uses technology to improve literacy in classrooms. This initiative is powered by Macmillan Education.

Soccer SecretsThe first day of the fair had a definite educational theme, with Jayne Bauling launching her book, Soccer Secrets, to a room full of primary and high school students. There wasn’t place for a mouse in the room as Bauling spoke about her Harmony High series. A group of students from Olico Youth performed a skit from Bauling’s previous book, Broken Promises.

The day ended with a panel discussion on the making of dictionaries, with Professor Phillip Louw and Megan Hall from Oxford University Press Southern Africa, chaired by Sue de Groot.

The three speakers discussed the evolution of the dictionary world, the excitement of publishing dictionaries in a multilingual country like South Africa, and shared some amazing South Africanisms that have made it into the latest South African Oxford Dictionary – e-tolls and loadshedding.

Throughout the day there were hordes of children milling about, soaking up the literature, and publishers exhibited their books and services in the two main halls.

A super day, and it’s only the beginning!


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See Annetjie van Wynegaard’s Twitter timeline for all the Book Fair action:



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