The Fear Of The Pirate

I was at Ondo recently for my annual vacation. As a bookaholic,
one of those places I visited was a bookshop not far from the Oba
Osemawe’s palace.
The shop attendant was less receptive to my gentlemanly greeting. He
peered at me and my shopping bag, as if I will steal some of his
pencils or one, two , three of his educational books.
‘ Do you have fiction?’
‘ Wetin?’
‘Fiction?’
‘Mister man, I no understand wetin you dey say.’
‘Oh, I mean do you have novels or plays in your stock?’
‘ Stock? Is that not a novel, because I no understand
stock_ fiction?’
He pointed his finger to an angle in his medium sized shop. And there
I saw a copy of Ngugi’s Weep Not, Child. It was pirated.
‘How much?’
I looked at the first page of the book, and it was inscribed: N200
‘ Na N300.’
I switched to pidgin, for the first time since the start of this conversation.
‘No be N200 you write for the book?’
‘Bring money.’
I handed him a 200 Naira note and demanded for a receipt. He was
totally transformed, it was in his shaking voice I firstly discovered
this.
‘No receipt!’ Silence invaded the bookshop. And then I
laughed from the depth of my stomach.He joined me in this harvest of
laughter.
‘ You dey fear?’ I asked, just back from laughter land. Our writers write day, noon and night, hopeful that their words will
make a way for them. They will survive the hassles of getting the
right publisher that would be faithful to the creative art of
packaging words.
Quite disheartening will it be for them,when discovery will show it
that some uneducated rascals are the ones reaping the fruits of their
labour.
The pirates are people like us. They fart, urinate and even
laugh. Only some divides make them pirates.
Most of them are uneducated and do not know the great influence
writers have on their worlds.
Some of them are educated but blinded and therefore turned ignoramus
by their greed and desperate thirst for a better living.For the
easy-way-out!
The pirates drain our resources. They call us fools. We the
educated. We the lovers of literature. We the future.
The pirates  turn our books to automated teller machine. They
transmogrify our packaged words to bank vaults, which they can
manipulate for their monetary gains. And they are the Anini, Osama Bin
Laden or Boko Haram of the publishing industry.
They know the act of pirating is illegal. And they are aware of
the fact that they are literally killing the book industry.
Afraid of the sanctions from authorities like Nigerian Copyright
Commission? YES. That is why the bookshop attendant could not issue a
receipt.
We need to ginger the pirate’s fear for duplicating our books.
Publishers, writers, critics, readers and buyers of books, must
resolve to fight piracy.
The pirates dread us. They are mere thieves that can be curbed from
stealing. They need us to help them catalyze that fear for pirating to
inestimable heights. Let us all refuse to buy pirated books and report
suspected pirates to the nearest Nigerian Copyright Commission office.
The commission should respond quickly to petitions; they should bring
there offices closer to lovers and buyers of books.
Publishers should DRAG books closer to readers. Publishing
outfits should encourage reading as an habit, and sponsor events
dedicated towards this cause.
One of those events, The Emotion Book Party is a bi- annual literary
event dedicated towards celebrating books and it is hosted by Emotion
Press.
Government and corporate organizations should make funds available
to upcoming publishing outfits.Nigeria needs more than five hundred
publishing outfits to cater for our yearly upsurge in writing talents.
Grants should also be provided for writers that wants to write full time.
An enlightenment campaign against piracy, involving workshops on
the dangers of piracy targeted at sellers, readers and buyers of
books, must be kick started by individuals and organizations.

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About akinbowale

Africa's most influential literary blogger

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