Friday, January 13, 2012

Lantern Books: Children’s Publishing Success in Nigeria

An excerpt of Dennis Abrams' piece from Publishing Perspectives...this should cheer our budding children book writers...

It has been a long journey for Olayinka Lawal-Solarin. From working in his own business as a retail pharmacist, he became proprietor and managing director of Corona Chemists Nigeria in 1969. That same year, he pioneered medical publishing in Nigeria with Medipharm, a medical index or pharmaceutical specialties, the first of its kind in Africa. This led to the incorporation of Literamed Publications Nigeria Limited in 1969, which has since gone beyond Medipharm and other medical journals into children’s books.

Why children’s books? As Olayinkia said in an interview, “As a child growing up in Nigeria and as an adult growing up in the United Kingdom, I realized that there is a great difference in child’s education between the UK and Nigeria. There was a deficiency in children’s education both at the basic level and in the provision of toys. [So] when the opportunity presented itself to do something about it I did. Building my own printing press to tackle the technicality of medical publications, I decided to expand Literamed to the publication of children’s books which I was considered was needed to give children in my country a sound basic education.”

Today, Literamed Publications Limited is Nigeria’s leading children’s book publisher, and its imprint, Lantern Books, has become a household name in Nigeria and throughout West Africa. By publishing textbooks by established authors in line with approved curriculums to story books which serve as a springboard for young readers, Lantern Books caters to West African youth from pre-school through secondary education.

Olayinka, or “Yinka” as he is known to his friends, is particularly pleased that Lantern Story Books had expanded into seven series: Adventure, Folk Tales, Fairy Tales, Health, Heroes, Bible Stories, and Literary. Each series is further divided into age groups of 4-7 years, 8-12 years, 13-16 years, and 17 years and above. Most of these titles serve double-duty, both as leisure reading and as literature texts used in Nigerian schools.

Apart from textbooks, Literamed publishes over 100 books a year, and as one of the very few publishers in Nigeria with its own press, it has a sizable advantage by giving Olayinka complete control over every aspect of the production process, from manuscript to book, ensuring both high-quality and availability all year round — something that many other West African publishers cannot promise.

Read the rest here.


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