THE Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) 2018 edition, which ended on Saturday, recorded the lowest turnout since 1983.
BY NUNURAI JENA
Although organisers were yet to reveal the official statistics, ZIBF interim programmes and logistics committee member, Memory Chirere, hinted that the attendance was the lowest ever.
“The numbers of publishers, booksellers, scholars, schoolchildren and the general public was greatly low due to the postponement of the event twice,” he said, but quickly added that the opening indaba as well as the library and writers’ workshops attracted high numbers.
Award-winning writer Shimmer Chinodya bemoaned how the book extravaganza had lost its glitter over the years.
“This is a circus. There are very few exhibitors and there are no people here, whatever the reason, but there is need for improvement to be where we were in the 1990s,” he said.
Political and social commentator Takura Zhangazha, who rarely misses the book fair, attributed the low turnout to a decline in the reading culture in the country.
“There are so many contributing factors here, ranging from the postponement, harsh economic environment, but I strongly feel that the low turnout clearly shows the status of our reading culture as a country,” he said.
There were no regional and international exhibitors for the first time at this year’s book fair, held under the theme Writing Books for the Future.
Meanwhile, writers who attended last week’s writers workshop in Harare said there was need to engage printers, publishers and street booksellers so that their books could be sold on the streets with their consent.
The writers said such a move would eliminate the scourge of piracy and they would financially benefit, unlike the current scenario.
Zimbabwe Writers’ Association chairperson Monica Mpambawashe said fighting street booksellers would not work as they have a ready market.
“It is clear that book piracy is here to stay as long as there is a ready market, which the street booksellers are servicing. Fighting street booksellers will not work, but rather engage them and become part of our industry,” she said.
Renowned writer Thompson Tsodzo of the Pafunge fame, said despite his book Rurimi Rwa Amai being used in schools, official sales were very low.
“Most people think I’m making a killing out of my books since they are being used in schools, but the truth is that I’m realising nothing,” he said.