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Continental J.

Information Technology 8 (1): 18 - 23, 2014


Wilolud Journals, 2014
Printed in Nigeria

ISSN: 2141 - 4033


http://www.wiloludjournal.com
doi:10.5707/cjit.2014.8.1.18. 23

DIGITAL PUBLISHING: HOW FAR IN NIGERIA?


Abulude, F.O
Science and Education Development Institute, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria.
ABSTRACT
This paper discussed the situation of digital publishing in Nigeria. The objectives are to show
the importance of digital publishing, the challenges and the future in Nigeria. The impact of it
in Nigeria is felt, although it may not be as the experience in the developed countries. The
paper focused on E-reader applications, software and social networks and their impacts in
journal publications, libraries, media and so on. The challenges encountered presently in
Nigeria were highlighted. Finally, the prospect in the future was discussed too.
KEYWORDS: Nigeria, digital libraries, digital publishing, e-books, information age
Received for Publication: 15/07/14
Corresponding author: sedinst@yahoo.com

Accepted for Publication: 05/09/14

INTRODUCTION
Digital publishing has come of age, no doubt it has surpassed the use of book publishing. In Africa especially
Nigeria this phenomenon of publishing has increased. Reading is increasing, e-journals, e-books, EPUBs, digital
magazines, digital libraries and catalogues are the products of digital publishing which can be referred to as
electronic publishing has become common especially in scientific publishing compared to about Five years back.
Books, magazines, and newspapers are now read through tablet reading devices which are generated by online
vendors.
Information is becoming more digital and networked and less paper. Scientific networked information today
includes not only conventional articles but also personal communications and live records, promoting collaborative
work among scientists around the world (Vanderlei et al., 1996).
The fact remains that digital publishing has been useful in communities where readers share and discover contents
which are useful for their consumption. Readers now come together digitally to discuss, create and share content for
their unique communities. Scientists, publishers and libraries improve on the innovative ways of producing,
collecting and disseminating information in the digital world.
Joe Hyrkin (2014) in his paper claimed digital publishing is now a mature, thriving industry, and yet many still insist
that publishing is in its death throes. According to him, book publishers know better: While hardcover sales declined
slightly between 2008 and 2012 (from $5.2 billion to $5 billion), eBook sales grew at an astonishing clip during that
period, rising from $64 million to $3 billion. And while digital publications are typically sold at a lower per-unit
cost, profit margins are much higher from 41 percent to 75 percent as publishers make the transition from print to
digital.
The products of digital publishing are readable in low light or even total darkness. Readers have the ability to
display motion, enlarge or change fonts, use Text-to-speech software to read the text aloud for visually impaired,
partially sighted, elderly or dyslectic people or just for convenience, search for key terms, find definitions, or allow
highlighting bookmarking and annotation. Depending upon the software support and used formats, non-textual
multimedia are embedded into e-book pages as widgets, audio files, images, videos, and interactive models; that are

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Abulude, F.O: Continental J. Information Technology 8 (1): 18 - 23, 2014

similar to HTML elements which can be used for presentation of multimedia content through embedding of the
content inside web pages. There are marked contrasts in the acceptance of these technologies between the advanced
and other nations. The industrialized nations in particular the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and South Korea have
access to extremely efficient internet services and plentiful human resources. It is clear that in the case of countries
from the developing countries, infrastructure limitations and low rates of human development hinder the
advancement of digital publishing.
An advantage of digital websites although may be low is the ability to translate books into many different languages,
making the works available to speakers of languages not covered by printed translations.
According to Rutkowski, 1994, before this Internet explosion associated with major software and hardware
developments, scientific publishing activities were characterized as top-down initiatives in the hands of traditional
international publishers and major universities. Meanwhile, the real revolution in the telecommunication and
information fields has occurred from the bottom-up. Personal computers and workstations, local area networks, costoriented leased lines, routers, network operating systems, the Internet, and other capabilities have empowered
individuals and organizations to develop their own infrastructure and control their own information destiny.
Objectives of the paper are to show the importance of digital publishing, the challenges and the future in Nigeria.
E-reader applications
E-reader is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading e-books and digital
periodicals. Most book retailers and multiple third-party developers offer free (and in some third-party cases,
premium paid) e-reader applications for the Mac and PC computers as well as for Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPod,
iPhone, Windows Phone and Palm OS devices to allow the reading of e-books and other documents independently
of dedicated e-book devices Chennupati et al., 2006).
Software
In digital publishing, publishers have formats in which they publish and so a reader too must have suitable software
to access the e-publishing for example EPUB, PDF, TXT, RTF, DOC, HTML etc. If correct software is not
available on the system used, then the publication can never be accessed. This software can either be free or
purchased online.
Social networks
These use web-based and mobile technologies to turn digital communication into interactive dialogue, allowing for
the creation and exchange of user-generated content and providing a structure for people to get organized, exchange
and collaborate. Social media allow for interaction on a global scale, make it possible for users to add content or
commentary and to form groups quickly.
Presently, some of the social media networks which are common are: online social networks (Facebook, MySpace,
etc.), blogs, micro-blogs (Twitter, etc.), sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr, etc.), podcasts, wikis (Wikipedia, etc.) and
widgets /apps such as those available for mobile devices (Poole and Le-Phat Ho, 2011).
DIGITAL PUBLISHING IN NIGERIA
The impact of this in Nigeria is felt, although it may not be as the experience in the developed countries, but there is
steady progress in the use. No doubt, Nigeria is experiencing digital revolution. An internet revolution is in West
Africa with the arrival in recent years of optic-fibre cabling. According to Ogunlesi (2011) in Nigeria there are more
than 90 million mobile phone lines in the country, up from a negligible number a decade ago. The number of
internet users has risen from 100,000 in 1999 to more than 40 million today. Nigeria has the largest number of
mobile phone owners in Africa, followed by Egypt (55.4 million and South Africa 46.4 million) the largest Mobile
Network Operator (MNO) in Africa is currently MTN Nigeria: the South African operator Vodacom (for many

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Abulude, F.O: Continental J. Information Technology 8 (1): 18 - 23, 2014

years the largest) was relegated to No 4. by mid-2010 relatively secure internet access into and out of the country
through undersea cables, and active plans to increase this, so reasonable bandwidth and reasonable cost (Robert,
2011).
Electronic Journal Publication.
Academic publishing is undergoing major changes, as it makes the transition from the print to the electronic format.
Majorities of the publishing houses have resulted into electronic format of publication. Most of the journals have
good and functional websites. The journals are indexed with international indexers. Due to the digital publishing,
journal outfits in Nigeria have international reviewers and editors unlike the old when communications are in prints
which may take several weeks to months or even years before papers are published.
Recently, assessments for promotions are done through internet unlike when most institutions depend on hard prints.
Libraries
The need for e-book services in libraries has grown. Most academic work is published in academic journal article,
book or thesis form. National, state, and institutional libraries are making progress in terms of availability of books.
There are now acquisitions of e-books into the archives of the libraries. Users are provided access to these
acquisitions when they are duly registered. Most local books may not be many because most are still published in
hard prints.
National and institutional libraries have been computerized. They have repositories archiving digital publications (ebooks, e-journal, e-newspapers and magazine etc).
Government Initiatives
Government organizations have adopted EP technologies as the better management of information can improve the
efficiency of the bureaucracy and support decision-makers need for sufficient information. Some of the difficulties
of establishing IT networks in the country whereby the government maintained a monopoly on telecommunication
facilities have been removed. Digital revolution has been made possible through the appearances of network
providers like Glo, Airtel, MTN, and so on. This move has set up a platform for e-Publishing and information
sharing.
Publishing Firms
Our newspaper firms have come with electronic publications. Apart from paper prints readers have been using this
medium as source of information.
eNewspapers are the online accompaniments of established newspapers where news articles and the latest updates
are published on the web. The paper version from the printing press is still the mainstay but the electronic version is
where the most up-to-date developments are found. The Punch, Times, Vanguard, This Day, Guardian and so on are
examples of publishers using the many advantages of e-Publishing.
eZines are published too by established print magazine publishers. Many magazine titles such as Tell, Newswatch
among others, have also established online websites. Readers make use of their mobile phones in reading news on
the publishers websites. With this trend, newspaper readership is going down. The new app Okadabooks, begun by
Okechukwu Ofili and a partner has just been picked up by Samsung Nigeria. They plan to front-load 100,000
thousand of their phones with the app over the next few months (Eghosa, 2011)
Books and journals marketing have increased with the use of social networking sites (Facebook LinkedIn and
Twitter). Effective web payment systems are being introduced (NetNaira, Surepay, CashEnvoy, and Virtual
Terminal Network, and mPesa). Online bookshops (Walahi.com, Naijareads.com, Kalahari.com.ng) is on the
increase.

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Abulude, F.O: Continental J. Information Technology 8 (1): 18 - 23, 2014

Banks
Banks are using electronic tools, including email and online alerts. Lots of digital publishing is involved in the
production of statement of accounts, digital forms, annual reports and accounts.
Film Industry
There is the rapid expansion of the local film industry (Nollywood) with all the supporting digital and
communications infrastructure. With digitalisation and socializing media, especially where online text, art, music,
film are combined, a dynamic and collaborative way of creation and learning becomes available.
Producers
Although much have not been recorded on the use of digital publishing by our producers, but few have taken
advantage of the internet capabilities to market their content and profitably penetrated institutional markets and
households. It is expected that by year 2020, more people and producers will use electronic devices for advertising
and purchase.
Media Houses
Digital distribution has really helped in the music and the press industry. It has a profound impact on all forms of
media consumption including book publishing, radio and television. Few television stations (Channel TV, AIT,
Independent among others) programs are watched online. YouTube and other web videos are accessed online.
Televisions are increasingly plugging directly into the internet to access new forms of content and interactivity.
Radios digital activity has been on the increase. Newspaper headlines and other digital publications like interesting
novels are read over the radio for the enjoyment of their listeners.
CHALLENGES
Having recognized the significance of analyzing digital publishing in Nigeria, it is necessary to point out that there
are numerous obstacles.
Availability of Electricity Supply
This is a serious challenge most Nigerians encounter. Electric supply is epileptic in most parts of the country,
although the government is trying, but it is not enough. This has been the main constrain to digital publishing.
Costs of alternatives like solar energy and petrol generators are high. The maintenance is high too. I will recommend
that the producers of solar energy should explore the possibility of investing in Nigeria at a cheap rate. We at
Science and Education Development Institute can partner in this regard in any form.
Archival storage
There is no central organization or company archiving digital books. The storage devices flash, CD, memory drive
used for this purpose are either expensive or of less quality and so in no time the vital information may be lost. Also,
the handling of the storage device maybe poor and so loss is recorded. Information and storage devices must be
handled with care.
Incompatible data formats
A general issue is the large number of incompatible data formats in which content is delivered, possibly restricting
the devices that may be used, or making data conversion necessary. Streaming services can have several drawbacks:
requiring a constant Internet connection to use content; the restriction of some content to never be stored locally; the
restriction of content from being transferred to physical media; and the enabling of greater censorship at the
discretion of owners of content, infrastructure, and consumer devices

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Abulude, F.O: Continental J. Information Technology 8 (1): 18 - 23, 2014

Purchase of e-materials
Publishers sell e-books to libraries with limited license to the book in most cases. This means the library does not
own the electronic text but that they can circulate it for either a certain period of time or a certain amount of check
outs, or both... then its gone. When the facility does make the decision to purchase the e-book license, the cost is
three times what it would could for a personal consumer.
Power Upsurge
Without a constant power supply, it is always difficult to make the digital publishing happen. Nigeria has a
population (155 million) three times that of South Africa (49 million) and in 2007 had about 9% of the generating
capacity of South Africa (21.92 billion kWh vs 240.3 billion kWh). And South Africa does not have enough
capacity and suffers from power cuts or load shedding.
Piracy
Piracy is a big issue, and distrust of digital formats. It is obvious that Nigeria populace has low income, this has
made the cost of hardware and software to be high, when compared with costs in Europe or USA most readers
cannot avoid the high cost. For this reason people prefer pirated digital formats and other devices. There is the lack
of an effective legal framework to administer digital publishing in the country. Government is trying in this regard,
but this has not been enough.
Plagiarism
Plagiarism is a serious offence, it has its penalty. There is software which can detect this in digital publishing. Free
software can be obtained on the internet. Effort should be geared up to make more of these free. The ones that are
priced cannot be afforded by authors. Many Nigerian authors are still guilty of this offence, orientation on this is
needed.
Content Quality
The issues of quality, of content, or editing, of production, of design; all these came together under the general
concern that digital publishing makes it too easy for material of very low quality to be self-published. According to
Roberts (2011), some is to do with academics who will put a cover onto their lecture notes and then make this
required reading for their students; some linked to self-publishing of memoirs and autobiographies. Many publishers
in Nigeria are printers who take on self-published work, so there is a lot of material of compromised quality
(Roberts, 2011).
Area of Internet Coverage and Speed
The area of coverage of the internet facility is not wide except in the cities. Normally, the living conditions here are
costly. Digital publishers located in the other parts of the city may not find the connection to internet easy. Even if
found, it may be slow to connect. No slow browser can download e-publishing of 3Kb and above.
The internet service providers have 3.5 - 4.0G and Edge modem. Any digital publisher working with the Edge
cannot do serious internet browsing because it always slow to connect. Not all areas have the 3.5 - 4.0G, for digital
publishing to thrive well, this or faster network service should be made available in all parts of the nation.
Cost
The Mac and PC computers as well as for Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPod, iPhone, Windows Phone and Palm OS
are available in Nigeria. The problem is the exorbitant price. The digital publishers may afford the cost of purchase,
but how about the readers who cannot afford the cost? With this factor coverage of information dissemination or ebooks/journals by publishers to people is minimal.

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Abulude, F.O: Continental J. Information Technology 8 (1): 18 - 23, 2014

Presently, the cost of internet facility is high. One may need to purchase air time when one needs to do serious work.
To me there is no seriousness on the part of users who find oneself in this position. Most students cannot afford
buying air time for browsing with this the possibility of obtaining e-books is reduced or remote.
Costs of software are still to some existent high. The antivirus, apps, PDF creator, flip converter to mention a few
are high. If these cannot be downloaded free on the net, then it is selected few that can have access to e-publications.
FUTURE
Digital publishers can attract readers attention through creative ways of storytelling, besides the numerous
possibilities of interaction. In distance year, digital publishing will have a tremendous broadcasting potential.
Self-publication on the net is not rampant in Nigeria, with time, there is the tendency of Nigerians to go self
publishing presently here the fashion is almost new. I have two self-publications in the UK, due to the exchange
rate, I cannot continue. As soon as the cost of publication is reduced, I am sure many Nigerians will venture into it.
Few years to come the delivery of electronic educational materials would be made common on smart phones.
REFERENCES
Chennupati, K.R., Foo, S., & Heng, P.C. (2006). Trends in Electronic Publishing. In Ching, H.S., Poon, P.W.T., &
McNaught, C. (Eds.), eLearning and Digital Publishing, Computer Supported Cooperative Work Volume 33,
Springer, 111-132
David Poole and Sophie Le-Phat Ho (2011). Digital Transitions and the Impact of New Technology on the Arts.
Canadian Public Arts Funders (CPAF) network.
Eghosa Imasuen (2011 ). Digital Publishing in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Good News, The Bad News.
http://publishingperspectives.com/author/guest.
Joe Hyrkin, Issuu (2014). Digital publishing: How it will evolve in
https://gigaom.com/2014/01/04/digital-publishing-how-it-will-evolve-in-2004-and-beyond.

2014

and

beyond.

Ogunlesi Tolu (2011). Digital Publishing in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Good News, The Bad News.
http://publishingperspectives.com/author/guest.
Robert Cornford (2011). Digital Publishing in West Africa: Technology and the future of the book: Full Review of
Information for Change 2011, Lagos, Nigeria, 11th May 2011.
Rutkowski, A. M. (1994). The Present and the Future of the Internet: Five Faces. Keynote Address
Networld+Interop 94, Tokyo
Vanderlei P. Canhos, Dora A.L. Canhos, Sidnei de Souza and Barbara Kirsop (1996). Electronic Publishing and
Developing Countries: Trends, Potential and Problems. Joint ICSU Press/UNESCO Expert Conference on
Electronic Publishing in Science UNESCO, Paris, 19-23 February 1996.

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