Grants/Publishing open e-books in Uganda

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Publishing open e-books in Uganda

Applicants: National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU)
Affiliation: East African Book Development Association, Uganda Publishers Association, Uganda Women Writers Association, Uganda Booksellers Association
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Charles Batambuze
Coordinator: Lillian Nyakana
Project Start: 2010/07/27
Project End: 2012/03/13
Download budget Discussion

Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

This project will develop the capacity of publishers and authors in Uganda to produce high quality e-books published under CC licenses following a model which was partially experimented under a previous project, “Publishing and Alternative Licensing Models (PALM) Africa.” The project will also result into 20 new fiction ebooks being published by NABOTU from its collection of manuscripts of creative writing submitted for the annual NABOTU Literary Awards. It will further equip authors with skills to self-publish through the use of blogs and other tools with appropriate open licensing arrangements.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

The tangible project output will include over 20 works of fiction published by NABOTU in e-book formats and delivery options on the web site under a CC license. NABOTU currently holds a collection of over 400 manuscripts of children’s storybooks and poetry as well as novels for teenagers received every year for its literary awards competition.

Publishers who participated in the publishing experiment under PALM Africa will use the new skills to be learnt to improve on the 6 titles issued online under the CC licenses by using better e-book formats and set up better tracking system for downloads and usage as well as marketing and promotion. Also the new skills about open e-book publishing is likely to inspire other publishers to join the fray and publish more book titles under CC licenses.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

The community being targeted by the project is of 3 types. The first type are authors who have been writing and making entries into the annual NABOTU Literary Awards whose works have been judged to be of a high quality. Most of these works although the property of NABOTU have never found their way to the fiction market as published works. NABOTU plans to improve the manuscripts by subjecting them to further evaluations, engaging artists to draw illustrations (in the case of children’s fiction) and publishing them online as open e-books. The main goal here is just to promote the literary award as well as give a profile to the authors of such selected works.

The second type are the publishers that is both commercial and non-commercial who participated in the publishing experiment under PALM Africa. As already noted, skills in epublishing was one of the notable challenges that the project faced. The six titles which were published online under the CC licenses were all pdfs. Under this project, publishers will be trained and exposed to different e-book formats and delivery options to help improve the CC products available on their web sites as well as for the new products that they might want to add. This will improve their brand images as well as attract more hits to their web sites and perhaps drive sales for non-CC licensed products.

The third type is the community of writers and publishers some of whom participated in PALM Africa up to a certain point and did not experiment with CC licensing. These too will participate in the training which may result into more titles being published online. The more titles are available online, the better the situation will become for learners in Uganda whose access to learning materials is still constrained by many factors including />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

The National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU) is a non-government organization founded in 1997 by authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians and readers. NABOTU’s mission is to: promote local authorship; promote publishing and trade in books and; develop a culture of reading in Uganda. NABOTU has been implementing a book development program whose goal is the eradication of poverty through literacy enhancement. Activities of the program including Children’s Reading Tents which expose children to hundreds of children’s fiction have impacted children in many ways including: improving their confidence; language fluency and performance in examinations. Training programs targeting the skills of authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians and others have resulted into improved quality of written and published books as well as services to the readers. The annual NABOTU Literary Awards competition continues to grow in importance and has provided a platform for not only marketing published works of fiction but also inspiring new authors to excel. The annual National Book Week Festival has been instrumental in exposing authors’ works to various markets and profiling the publishing industry in Uganda.

Ugandan publishers have been very keen on protecting copyright and learning about new innovative ways of licensing especially in the digital environment. Accordingly, NABOTU has provided them opportunities to express themselves on traditional licensing through a collecting society. Subsequently in 2010, right holders in the publishing industry registered the Uganda Reproduction Rights Organization (URRO) to facilitate licensing transactions around the rights of reprography.

At the same time, beginning in 2007 a process to adopt alternative licensing practices was being pursued by NABOTU under the IDRC funded research project, “Publishing and Alternative Licensing Models for Africa (PALM Africa).” A publishing experiment under PALM Africa resulted into one commercial publisher, Fountain Publishers Ltd issue 3 titles of commercially viable books online under a Creative Commons license. A non-government organization FEMRITE- the Uganda Women Writers Association issued 2 titles online under a Creative Commons license. While NABOTU issued one book, “Publishing in Uganda with notes from Africa” under a Creative Commons license. Some of the lessons learnt from the experiment included: that publishing online under a creative commons license broke down market barriers for local publications. All the titles published under the experiment attracted attention from all over the World which meant that this was a very effective way of sharing not only publications but also the Ugandan culture globally. Publishers that participated in the experiment are still reporting increased inquiries from all over the world about new online publications issued under both CC and non-CC licenses.

There were a number of challenges that PALM Africa did not resolve including the fact that Uganda publishers had limited understanding of e-book systems and their applications, marketing and promotion of online products, payment systems etc. NABOTU wishes to address some of these issues using this project to spark more interest in open publishing making use of CC licenses. NABOTU currently holds a number of manuscripts of storybooks from previous literary awards that have not been published. These are to be published and added to the CC content from Uganda.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

Both commercial and non-commercial publishers who will publish e-books as a result of this intervention will put in place systems for tracking hits to their web sites and downloads of the specific titles. The download statistics will be measured against statistics of sales of physical copies of the titles to establish a trend as to whether online CC licensed e-books have any impact on sales figures for physical books. Secondly, publishers will keep track of their rights trade especially as regards the specific titles to gauge where exposure of the books through CC license will have had an impact in this area. Thirdly, how many additional titles publishers might add could be a pointer that they have established some level of faith in the new licensing system which represents a significant measure. Finally, the fame of authors whose works will be published under CC licenses will be tracked to assess whether increased exposure of their works through a CC license would for instance win them more writing contracts or speaking engagements.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

The project will focus on 20 authors whose manuscripts have won the NABOTU Literary Awards in the last six years. The key motivation for sustaining their involvement in the project being that they are keen to have their works published and made available to the market. This gives their writing career important visibility which is lacking at the moment. The project will also focus on two publishers who participated in the publishing experiment whose online books require improving. The motivation for sustaining their involvement will be the opportunity to learn new skills in e-book publishing as well as extend their position as leaders in open e-book publishing by providing high quality products.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

Currently, only six titles have been published by Ugandan publishers under CC licenses. This project will provide an additional 20 titles of fiction and create a platform for many other additional titles by publishers who did not participate in the previous publishing experiment. Many of the writers of fiction in Uganda are hampered by limited publishing opportunities and a small local market. Exposing them to new publishing models and the unlimited market opportunities offered by CC licensing is a sure way of increasing creativity and more representation of the Ugandan culture online. In addition, local schools will find such content very relevant for use as part of either curriculum or supplementary materials.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

The project will make use of various open e-book platforms to enable publishers make their works available online at the least cost. In Uganda, publishers do not have experience with these open publishing solutions and so NABOTU shall identify resource persons who have applied these solutions to train the local publishers. In addition, some local creative writers will be trained in using blogs to publish some of their content.

In terms of offline distribution, only 2 publishers in Uganda have distribution contracts with the UK based African Books Collective who apply print-on-demand to supply to European and American markets. For the Ugandan market we shall explore possibilities of a photocopying solution that was being tested under PALM Africa in South Africa to be based at local bookshops.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

One of the challenges that the project might face is the limited access to the Internet by local Ugandans. Currently about 2.5 million Ugandans out of 30 million are accessing the Internet. This means that most of these books might not be read locally. We hope to liaise with several initiatives such as school-net, one lap top per child etc to avail our content to their target groups. This way, we might receive many downloads locally.

Secondly, many authors and publishers might still be skeptical about the potential there is in business models tailored on CC licensing. The best we can do under the circumstances is to continually use the statistics form the demonstrations to show the versatility of the business models.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

NABOTU believes the Creative Commons funding will consolidate work started under PALM Africa. NABOTU would like a strong local publishing industry accessing new markets and providing better returns to the investors. Once the CC licensing models are able to provide this assurance to the industry, then NABOTU will depend on funds from the social responsibility to further the project. Secondly, NABOTU plans to access further funding from other organizations that might be keen on using the model to make learning materials more accessible to schools in Uganda.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

This project is already reinforcing work started under PALM Africa which demonstrated the ability of CC licensed books to access new markets without major costs. This is important because it will be the motivation for many other publishers to adopt the models.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

Funding is the only resource that we expect from Creative Commons

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

NABOTU communicates with its members and partners through its web site that has both a discussion forum and a news section, through lists, emails. NABOTU also uses traditional communication channels like letters, telephone, the media and meetings.