Books play a very essential role in our development as individuals and as a country. They form a basis of transforming society into a knowledgeable community through the provision of information, knowledge, wisdom and pleasure.
There is a significant call to review locally produced books due to concerns registered regarding the quality of some books produced in the country. Locally produced books, as with other locally produced commodities are at times questioned, with respect to quality and standard. Nonetheless, there are some issues pertaining to our locally produced books that need to be addressed.
Book production is an industry on its own, where numerous key players come together. The main key industry players in the book industry are: authors/writers, publishers, editors, book designers/illustrators, printers, booksellers and librarians. Undeniably, these local industry players are doing their best amidst the challenges they face with regards to book production in the country.
The book production process is not as easy as one may think. Production of quality books require time, money and qualified resource persons. The process begins with the author (creator), who writes the manuscript. The publisher, plays a pivotal role in the production process, where he or she accepts manuscript from the author, and employs the services of the editor to make vigorous assessment of the manuscript to conform with grammar and standards. The publisher also employs the service of a book designer/illustrator to make the page layout, design and illustration that will bring the manuscript to a good state suitable for the targeted readers. The printer facilitates the multiple production of the manuscript after proof-reading. The printer produces the book in a format or package that is presentable and appealing to readers. The bookseller comes in to help sell and distribute the books to the public. The libraries also help to reach readers with the books as part of promoting reading among the public.
As we commemorate “World Book and Copyright Day” on this day, 23 April, it is very expedient to remind ourselves that books are very important and fundamental in developing the nation. Making our indigenous books competitive on the global market demands the production of books which meet international standards. This calls for all players in the book chain to adhere to acceptable standards of book production and usage. A good book, whether in print or in electronic form, must conform with internationally accepted standards and guidelines.
Creative-writing is not an easy task; it calls for a lot of effort and research by the writer. The book publisher must ensure the dissemination of the right information to the reader. The editor must thoroughly check the presentation, spelling, grammar and facts. The designer must consider the necessary margins, kerning or tracking, leading, typeface or font style, font size, illustrations and colour display suitable to the readers.
The printer must ensure the use of quality paper and ink for printing. The printer must also adhere to industry standards regarding collation, through to binding and packaging of the printed book. The bookseller is one of the primary channels through which books reach the readers.
The bookseller must, therefore, be a gatekeeper to ensure that no sub-standard book gets to the reading public.
The reading public is to respect the copyright authors and publishers by refraining from acts that infringe on copyright, such as unauthorized copying, translation, distribution or use of books under copyright. Apart from the fact that actions that infringe on copyright are illegal and punishable under the Copyright Act, 2005 (Act 690), such infringing acts harm the growth of the book industry in the country.
As we celebrate World Book and Copyright Day, all players in the book industry are urged to ensure the production of standard quality books in the country. All Ghanaians are also encouraged to cultivate the habit of reading to support the growth of the book industry.
Kofi Asante Twumasi
Production Services Manager
Ghana Book Development Council (GBDC)