I had the privilege of meeting Ikhide R. Ikheloa some weeks back. He is more popularly called “Pa Ikhide” by friend and foe. Our time together was brief, but it was engaging and very much time well spent. Pa Ikhide is a gadget freak, perhaps inflicted with a worse strain of the virus than myself. He had a chain of gadgets on him – and they weren’t all that he owned.
We talked about mobile, writing, speaking, and family, among others. Much of our talking revolved around writing and mobile though. Pa Ikhide is a voracious reader, I hear. He is highly regarded in the field of literature (we actually met at the Ake Arts & Book Festival). He was of the opinion that Nigerian writers have been barking up the wrong tree in recent times. With a major complaint being heard these days being that people do not read, Pa Ikhide was of the view that writers need to start publishing on mobile instead of pushing paperback. He has a very strong point. It isn’t business as usual any more, and the great, conquering mobile has invaded even literature.
As far as I can see, the vast majority of savvy (and most literate) people are on mobile – smartphones and tablets. Perhaps if our writers would put their books up on mobile instead, we would witness a greater interest in their works? This could also solve the problem of logistics. Sometimes, getting a published work into circulation is the greatest obstacle, considering the poor distribution network on ground in Nigeria.
Perhaps it isn’t quite time to ditch paperbacks altogether, but a mobile-first approach to publishing sounds like a splendid idea to me.