Nigeria’s book selling industry is still relatively opaque to a lot of Nigerians. Currently, if you want to buy books in Nigeria you can achieve that in three ways. You buy from recognized retail outlets, download it online or buy second hand books.
Understanding the value chain of book selling, especially second hand books, is one area that has interested us for a while. How do they get these books? How do they determine what price to sell? What are the margins available?
An article published on The New Yorker website in October 2015 explains the value chain of the second hand book selling market from the perspective of a guy who imports books.
Here are some of the highlights of how he get’s his books;
What books do Nigerians like to read?
“The most popular titles are books by John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Frederick Forsyth, Jackie Collins, Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey,” Rasaki told me. “People also like to buy motivational books by authors like Brian Tracy, Jack Welch, Napoleon Hill.”
How he gets his books
Every three months, Rasaki travels to Atlanta, where he stays with family and drives as far as ten hours to buy books from secondhand suppliers, such as libraries selling off their old stock, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army. He prefers going in search of books himself so that he can find the titles customers have been requesting. He said that it can take months, or more, for an American blockbuster title to catch on in Nigeria.
“Right now, I am importing ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ “ Rasaki told me. “The same thing happened with Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code.’ “ Most of the books cost no more than fifty cents, and he buys them in bulk.
Exporting to Nigeria
Once his search is complete, he loads the books into containers and ships them off to Nigeria, at a cost of about thirty-five hundred dollars per forty-foot container. Rasaki usually shares the container with another importer, and fills his twenty feet with about forty-five thousand books…..Sometimes, he also ships containers to Kenya. “But their market is not as large as ours,” he said.
How much he sells the books
In Nigeria, he resells the books for between one hundred and fifty naira (seventy-five cents) and five hundred naira (two dollars and fifty cents), based on the demand for various titles.
How long it takes to sell of his books
Rasaki said that he usually sells at least eighty per cent of each container within sixty days of his arrival in Lagos, with customers coming from cities near and far, such as Akure, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ibadan, and Abuja.
How much retailers make
Bright Ewemie, who owns Bright Books, in Benin City, in Southern Nigeria, has been buying used books from Rasaki for more than a decade, and makes the five-hour trip to him every two weeks. “I buy about four hundred thousand naira [two thousand dollars] to five hundred thousand naira [twenty-five hundred dollars] worth of books” each time, Ewemie told me, adding that Rasaki alone cannot meet his demand and that he has five or six other suppliers in Lagos. “When I resell in Benin City, I make about one hundred naira profit on each book,” he said.
Get the rest of this interesting article here