Former advisor to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Petina Gappah has urged Zimbabweans not to buy her book which she said was being sold at an exorbitant price by a local shop. She posted on Twitter saying:
I’m told that my most recent book is being sold at Innov8 bookshop in Harare. I’d normally be very happy but it is retailing for USD50. As it is not a hardcover, a picture book or printed on glossy paper, this is unjustifiable. Please spend your money wisely. Don’t buy it.
When the UK edition is launched in February, I will make arrangements with my publisher to sell it in Zim for no more than the ZWL equivalent of USD20. I will distribute it myself, as I have done in the past. Books are not luxury products and should not be priced as such.
I take great exception to this pricing because my books are not subject to the 40% book tax that I have been fighting against. They are covered by Zim’s EU tariff, so there is no duty to pay. There is this no justification for selling it in Zim at almost 3 times the normal price.
Legitimate bookshops and other distributors know that they can order directly from my publisher, and get a discount that can go as high as 70%. I am committed to my books being affordable in my own country. And my publishers share the same values.
I’ve agreed with my publisher that any books sold in Zimbabwe will not count towards my royalties. I don’t want my books sold in Zimbabwe to make money: I want them to be read. I am happy for them to make money for bookshops and other distributors. But kwete kutsvaga mari nedemo.
This is sad, and unfortunate. Such pricing also works against the author because it limits the “points of contact” an author has with readers.
Indeed Phillip. If they were willing to apply economies of scale, like the outlets I work with, they would sell more at lower prices. Blackstone books alone has sold more than 500 of my books, with a profit of USD6 per book.
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