Okada Books, a Nigerian digital publishing and bookselling platform, has announced that it will shut down on November 30, 2023, due to “insurmountable challenges”. The platform, founded in 2013 by Okechukwu Ofili, has helped over 8,000 writers become authors for free, and has over 20,000 books available for download. However, the platform has been unable to sustain its operations amid the economic downturn and the low reading culture in Nigeria.

Okada Books is a platform where anyone can publish and sell their books as long as they have the authority to do so. The platform receives a 30% commission upon publication, while the author or publisher gets a 70% commission. The platform has a variety of books, ranging from fiction to non-fiction, romance to thriller, poetry to biography. About 80% of the books are free, while 20% are not. The platform also has a community of readers and writers, who can interact and share feedback on the books.

In a statement on X, the platform said that it had explored several options to keep its virtual bookshelves open, but the challenges were insurmountable. The statement did not specify the exact challenges, but they likely include the high inflation, the foreign exchange crisis, and the low purchasing power that has plagued the Nigerian economy in recent years. The statement also thanked the authors, readers, and partners for their support and loyalty, and expressed hope that the platform would be revived in the future.

The closure of Okada Books is a blow to the Nigerian literary scene, which has been struggling to promote and sustain a reading culture among the population. According to a report from 2021, the literacy rate in Nigeria was 77.62%, with a 0.13% annual increase in the same year. However, Nigeria has one of the lowest reading cultures in the world, as many Nigerians prefer other forms of entertainment, such as television, music, and social media. According to a BusinessDay Research & Intelligence Unit report, only 42% of respondents listed reading as one of their favourite forms of entertainment.

Technology has also impacted how Nigerians consume content. They access information and entertainment through various channels, such as television, computers, mobile devices, and the Internet. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), as of July 2023, there were 159.5 million active Internet subscribers in Nigeria across mobile, fixed, and VoIP networks. However, this does not necessarily translate to more reading, as Nigerians consume a lot of video content; 58% of videos viewed on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones are TV show episodes or clips.

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