Kolade Freedom, an author, became a book publisher to create opportunities for writers to express their literary prowess. In this interview with JANET OGUNDEPO, the bookpreneur says the advent of electronic books will not relegate hard copies
How is life as a bookpreneur?
As a bookpreneur, I’m usually surrounded by activities related to producing, distributing and promoting books. I work with authors right from the point where the book could only be felt as an idea to the point that it can be held and showcased. I’m involved in all publishing processes: pre-publishing, publishing and post-publishing.
Why did you venture into book publishing?
I have always been concerned with creating opportunities for people to maximise their potential. Book publishing offers me a means to tell people that their literary skills are valid. Many people, despite their abilities, are often stranded due to the lack of knowledge of how to project their abilities. I was once in that situation. Having eventually made headway, I decided to take up the challenge of making things easier for writers who aspire to get their works published. It is all about solving a problem while also getting rewarded for my expertise.
How did you feel when you published your first book?
Elated! I wasn’t even in the university then. I was young and zealous. I wanted my voice heard via my literary ability. Writing was the only thing that made sense to me then, and publishing was targeted as the reward for my endeavour. So, getting my book published boosted my confidence and made me believe that my dreams were valid as long as I believed and worked towards their fruition.
Book publishers are among the incurable optimists and risk-takers in business. Does this apply to you? If so, what keeps you going?
Yeah. As with other enterprises, things could go wrong. A single error could mar an entire publication and engender client’s dissatisfaction. A book could fail to generate the desired attention, leading to financial loss. Despite all the possible negatives, positives abound. We do nothing significant without courage – subduing our fears. I relegate the negatives with determination stemming from the knowledge obtained via experience and optimism built on dedication to excellence.
Do you believe that Africans do not read?
No. I don’t think it really has to do with race. In this context, we shouldn’t use part to represent whole. Reading is a personal endeavour, and can’t be classified as a deficiency of an entire race/culture. Will you then say that Africans are dull, since reading contributes to the intellect?
With the advent of e-books like Kindle, what is the future of hard copy books like?
Hard copy publications will not lose their relevance. Despite the presence of e-books, you still have people who want to perceive the fragrance of new books, feel the texture of the pages, and mark their reading journeys with actual flipping of pages. It is a case of preference. E-books will have new followings, but die-hard lovers of paperbacks will remain loyal. Notably, e-books rely on electronic devices, and we know how unstable things could get with machines. Also, as a publisher, I haven’t noticed a decline in interest for paperback publishing. Authors often combine the production of e-books and hard copies to enable them meet readers’ needs.
As a bookpreneur, coming up with catchy titles that will sell your book can be challenging. How do you go about it?
The title should have a relationship with the content of the book. We are always in search of well-worded aptness. It takes time, but when we have it, we know!
Can you cite some of the books you published that hit the mark?
Dazzling Mirage by Yinka Egbokhare, 1001 Singing Success Secrets by Gbade Adetisola, Echoes and Chimes by Francis Egbokhare, and The House That Built Me (edited by Eriata Oribhabor and Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom)
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Doing what I’m doing now in a more effective way, because I hate complacency. So, I expect my name/works to be more pronounced in literary and publishing circles.
What major project do you have at hand?
The Nigerian Students Poetry Prize. It is the foremost poetry prize for Nigerian undergraduates, and has received about 3,000 entries from students representing universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, seminary schools and schools of nursing.
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