Text Book Centre deserves our support

Local Musicians fought foreigners until today a Kenyan artist can make a living by music alone; and not just a simple living but living large. From close to zero percent local music being played in our radios and TVs by the start of 21st century, today 15% of music played in our radio stations are local music. There is also 19% of music being played termed “third party produced” and I’m not sure whether these third party producers are local or foreign.

As music artists continue to reap the benefits of continual local coverage, giving them the platform to compete continent wide and even globally, the film producers are also coming up to make their voices heard. But they are not as badly off as the musicians. Already the TV stations are playing local content at the rate of 70% (that’s according to CA so don’t quote me if the content is yet to reach 30 or less) with foreigners being given only 17% of the airtime.

To further improve the airtime given to local content, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has called on all broadcasters to start applying for new licenses which will require them to air 40 percent local content by June 2015 (see: Communications Authority of Kenya to monitor TV and Radio content). This requirement is in line with the government’s policy that broadcasters should achieve a minimum of 60 percent local content by 2018.

Very well for musicians and film producers as broadcasters will be forced to push local content into the throats of Kenyans and as usual, when you get used to something however boring, you finally start liking it. But who will push local books down our throats?

First, Kenyans don’t read. Second, Kenyans don’t write. To validate the second, just visit Amazon, select Books pre search bar, and type in “Kenya” in the search bar. You’ll be surprised to realize that close to 100 percent of the books talking about Kenya are written by some American or UK citizen.

There are a few who write though, and one of them is a friend, not a personal friend, but a friend on Facebook. This friend has been posting excerpts of his upcoming book on his Facebook Timeline and apparently, the friend among other things plans to avail his book at Amazon; maybe  because Kenyans don’t read so he is targeting the International market or maybe there is no locally based book distributor operating online. Hold on to this thought.

Local online services

Even before I exhaust the issue of local content in the context of books, publishing and distribution, I would like to mention the unavailability of the very key online services by locals. By key online services I mean search, social media, e-commerce and classifieds, and news. These are the services that drive the online economy.

The top search sites are both the International Google search (google.com) and the locally oriented google.co.ke. Google is an American company. In social media we don’t have any local service provider. Facebook and Twitter, both being American companies, control this sphere. There used to be a time when locals operated a Facebook competition in the name of iborian but since I am privy to some details, I won’t comment further. In the e-commerce and online classified space we have OLX, Jumia, Rupu, Cheki.co.ke and other than Cheki.co.ke that is distantly connected to Kenya, none of those are products by one of our own. At least we own most of the news and blogs as the top news sites are all Kenyan owned by the media houses like Nation Media Group, The Standard Group and the many blog sites like Ghafla, Techmoran, and others.

Contrast that scenario with China. Chinese do not use Google, hardly at all. According to China Internet Watch, “Google is not a big player in Chinese search engine market but Baidu with about 70% market share, followed by Qihoo 360 and Sogou/Soso league.” In social media, Chinese do not do Facebook nor Twitter. Social Media Today states that “QZone claims to have the highest number of active social networking users at625 million, Weixin (WeChat) and Sina Weibo are the current ‘darlings’ of Chinese social media, with 355 million and 129 million monthly active users respectively”. You won’t even say anything about their e-commerce as Chinese own Alibaba is the biggest in the world.

Contrast China with Kenya and realize how we simply don’t promote our own.

Text Book Centre online portal should replace Amazon when we think of books

It is time we gave a chance for those Kenyans who strive to compete with the multinationals like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Amazon hasn’t taken ground locally in the same breath as Google and Facebook and it is in my humble opinion that we shouldn’t allow them to.

Let me go back to the story of my Facebook friend who is planning to come up with a book. Why is he planning to launch or sell his book via Amazon and not via Text Book Centre’s online portal? According to the excerpts of the books I have seen, the book targets Kenyans 100 percent of the time. It describes his life all the way from rural Nyanza  to Nairobi’s Kibera slums to Industrial Area to UoN to his current social and economic status. The struggles, the hardships, the opportunities, the life and the inspiration are all written to inspire a Kenyan as it is a Kenyan that can relate to events that have defined his life.

Thus his decision to choose Amazon as the online place to retail his book might be because Kenyans only know of Amazon as the e-commerce portal to shop for books and don’t know of our own Text Book Centre. This article is meant to let you know that TBC exists and can be useful in launching and selling books among other items as outlined by Winfred Kuria below.

In the last two or so months, Text Book Centre started availing its offline merchandise (mostly books) online. It’s not just the online store by Text Book Centre that our local readers and writers should be aware of, but specifically the writers ought to know that Text Book Centre is also one of the most suitable platforms to use for launching their artistic or academic works. Text Book Centre also supports book signing events and on Saturday, August 30, 2014 Jeff Koinange jointly with Text Book Centre held a Book Signing event for the “Through My African Eyes” masterpiece at Text Book Centre’s Sarit shop.

And it is not hard to organize for such events with Text Book Centre, one is only required, through the publisher, to contact TBC and arrange for a Book’s launch or signing event as necessary. If you distribute your masterpiece with Text Book Centre, you will also be assured to have your book in their online portal and of course to further promote your book, you may decide to use your social media connections, paid ads on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and elsewhere to create awareness for the book as you provide the Text Book Centre’s link for the book in the ads.

About Text Book Centre

By Winfred Kuria

Established in 1964, Text Book Centre has recorded tangible milestones in the book industry. The leading bookstore chain in Kenya has unrivaled capacity to meet the demands of Kenya’s vibrant education sector. The bookstore establishment aims at being East Africa’s leading leisure and educational bookstore and office support resource centre with an aim of providing superior and friendly service as well as ensure extensive product solutions exceeding customer expectations.

The firms core activity is supply of education, general books and educational material, including stationery supplies to professionals, schools, colleges, universities, international organizations and non-government and government organizations countrywide and to buyers in Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Malawi, Zanzibar and Tanzania.

Text Book Centre as an educational and office supplies conglomerate has in the recent years diversified into PCs, computers, laptops and ultrabooks (see: How Asus Transformer Book T100 feels), desktops, printers and other technological appliances. Its bookshops and office supplies outlets are located on Kijabe Street, Sarit Centre in Westland’s, Langata in Galleria Mall and Junction outlet in Junction Mall Ngong Road, Nairobi.TBC also has an upcountry store in Kakamega’s Holden Mall.

TBC has made development of young minds a responsibility in the society which has had the organization associated with presidents Awards for over 20 years. It has also been involved with sponsorship programmes among other programs in the country.

The text book distributor has lately ventured into technology to provide customers new product range. eBooks is one of the platforms the company aims at taking lead in through the introduction of e-readers and ebooks in its product portfolio in a bid to satisfy the growing  customer need. Text book Centre Ltd eBook web store and retail kiosks powered by eKitabu  will provide easy access to good reads from the book centre.

TBC are the Kenyan dealers and distributors for Rexel staplers, shredders, over-head projectors, Bantex box files, Staedtler pencils, Faber Castell technical instruments, Pidilite, Camlin, Windsor & Newton and Marie’s art materials, Oxford Mathematical sets from Helix, Omega office and technical instruments. In addition TBC is the exclusive distributor for Pelikan and Geha Products in Kenya. The most recent addition to the product portfolio is the”MORE” range of school and office stationery.


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