The UNESCO World Book Capital, an annual prestigious title given to a city, was instituted as part of promoting books and reading worldwide.
The World Book Capital title was birthed in the year 2001 by International Publishers Association, six years after the launch of the World Book and Copyright Day—which is celebrated annually on April 23—by United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The main philosophy behind the creation of this title is to promote books, and encourage the reading culture in a designated city as well as outside its national borders.
Since the inception of the World Book Capital title, only two cities in the Sub-Saharan Africa, have been awarded the title in 2014 and 2017, respectively. These cities are Port Harcourt (Nigeria) and Conakry (Guinea) respectively.
The World Book Capital title application for the year 2023 was opened in January 2021. In view of this, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly in conjunction with Ghana Book Development Council and other stakeholders such as Ministry of Education; Ghana Publishers Association; Ghana Association of Writers; Ghana Printers and Paper Converters Association; National Bookseller Association Ghana; Ghana Library Authority; Ghana Library Association; Ghana Journalists Association; Ghana National Commission for UNESCO; Ministry of Foreign Affairs are to come together to plan and bid for Accra to win this competitive title. With hopes of winning the World Book Capital title, numerous activities to project books and reading would be embarked on, from April 23, 2023 to April 22, 2024.
Although winning the World Book Capital title does not result in any financial gains from UNESCO, there are enormous benefits such as a boost in cultural and socio-economic activities in the country. The designated city is expected to draw and embark on innovative activities that are geared towards developing the local book industry, promote books, libraries, reading, and awareness creation of literacy.
Undisputedly, winning the title will uplift the local book industry, Accra, as well as the country at large. The activities of the World Book Capital, which will span for a year, would bring together all stakeholders in the book industry, as part of projecting books, and the importance of books and reading. The World Book Capital will create the avenue to attract numerous sponsors and extra funding for institutions that deal with books.
As part of embarking on the activities in the title year (2023), the local book industry players in the book chain, that is, authors, publishers, designers and illustrators, printers, book sellers and distributors will be projected globally. Their works and outputs will massively be in the local and international eye. In this case, it is anticipated that there would be a robust increase in patronage and sales of books, hence increase in revenue for the industry.
Furthermore, winning the World Book Capital title will help create an avenue to unearth and develop creativity. Since authors are the first on the book chain, potential authors who might not have had any platform to project their creativity will bring to the fore their literary creativeness and innovations. Authors will also be motivated to come out with good manuscripts for publication.
In conclusion, winning the bid for the World Book Capital, will surely go a long way to boost the local book industry and the works of associated players. The title will help bring diverse creativity to the book industry, which will aid project good content and book on the local market. Inasmuch as we anticipate to win the bid for Accra, players in the book industry should not compromise quality in the book production process, they should rather endeavour to adhere to set standards in book production to meet the local and international market.
The writer is the Production Services Manager of the Ghana Book Development Council.