Nigeria’s literary ecosystem received a boost with the launch of iKasuwa.com, an online book mall in September this year.
iKasuwa was set up as a platform where publishers, authors and booksellers can sell their books to teeming consumers who have been yearning to make book purchases of every kind.
Adetayo Adegbemle, CEO of Stone Age Media, iKasuwa’s parent company, explains that the platform was designed to satisfy a grossly undeserved market.
“Hardly would you find a bookshop or publisher with a functional online website, and even if you find, they do not have facilities to sell to booklovers and customers”, he explains.
“We are a Startup that’s ready to fill a gapping niche. The demand is huge”.
Nigeria, with over 170million people, offers a book market that runs into billions of dollars. Internet penetration, which stands at 38 percent, with about 70 million mobile devices, is definitely a market ripe enough to tap.
According to a recent article on Financial Times, the literature market in Nigeria has been experiencing a vibrant renaissance in the last fifteen years.
A number of new publishing houses are sprouting up, while literary and book festivals are springing up beyond the traditional location of Lagos.
Still, the availability and accessibility of literary works and books are limited to “brick and mortar” shops.
“Not anymore”, Adetayo said, “with the launch of iKasuwa, it is now possible for publishers, authors and booksellers to make available their catalog, while book buyers can search through and make their purchase easily”.
iKasuwa sells digital books in PDF, ePUB, and Audiobooks, as well as in hard print.
So far, a number of publishers and self publishing authors have availed themselves the opportunity by listing their books for sale on the platform.
For a register seller, an account is created with a special dashboard where products can be uploaded and transactions monitored.
“All seller accounts are verified before activation, and this is to make sure that we eliminate fraud as much as possible.”
Nigeria’s ecommerce terrain is however not an easy one, with the potential for costs to spiral out of control. It will therefore be interesting to see how fast iKasuwa can break even. It will even be more interesting if the business lasts beyond one year.
Sales of electronic boks seem to have leveled off, with recent statistics showing that printed books still have a comfortable dominant share (67 percent) of the book market.