Mr. Caleb Akinmola is the Publishing Manager of Literamed Publications Nigeria Ltd, the leading publisher of children literature in Nigeria. He holds an M.A. in English Language from the University of Lagos.
He lives in Lagos with his family.
Can you give us a brief background on yourself?
My name is Akinmola Caleb. I hold a masters degree in English from the University of Lagos. My interests include reading and keeping abreast with happenings around the world. I am currently the Head of the Publishing department of a reputable publishing firm in Nigeria.
How did you find yourself in publishing?
Long before I got into college, I’ve always loved reading and editing at the same time. I did the editing rather haphazardly perhaps because I don’t like seeing errors in books. This interest made me go into college to study English up to the masters’ level. Let me also mention the fact that I love reading children’s books and other materials that are juvenile. While in college, I made up my mind that the best way to express this passion is to join the book publishing world; it was a dream come true when after college, I found myself in one of the leading publishing companies in Nigeria.
What are your personal pet peeves and what are your likes?
If you are asking this in relation to my job, I would say bad publications put me off. Generally, I don’t have any particular dislikes, this depends on my mood. I don’t look down on anybody or anything; nothing pisses me off. If I need to get annoyed at something, I do so because it’s not pleasant at the time. I love comfort, this may not be alluded to finance but comfort gives me a good feeling.
How do you relax and enjoy yourself?
I am not the outgoing type. Most times I relax in my home in the company of my family. It may sound uninteresting but that’s what I do.
Who is your favourite author and do you plan on writing a book yourself maybe now or in the future?
I love Dapo Adeleke’s writings. Most of his literary works are culture-bound and give you a feeling of nostalgia, particularly those that grew up in the rural areas. His style is very unique and his presentation mature. Let’s not talk about my writing for now; I’m still in the business of helping writers actualize their dreams.
How would you describe the state of the Nigerian publishing industry today (i.e. challenges and accomplishments) and what do you think are the prospects of it returning to its pre-80’s state within the next ten years?
I would say publishing has taken its root in Nigeria. Although there is still room for a lot of improvement but we have not really hit the mark. You are not an accomplished publisher until your products get to the hinterlands; this is still a herculean task due to the bad road network in the country. Government is yet to understand the role of publishers in promoting quality education in the country. If government encourages building capacity in Nigeria, lots of our books will be published here and the publishing industry will be sustained. Piracy has become a bane in the development of the publishing industry, a lot of publishers have fallen victim to this menace and not much can be done to totally eradicate it. The publishers’ association on its part is trying its best to fight the menace. Government should look into the publishing sector and think about investing some money in order to encourage publishers and products coming from Nigeria.
Do you agree with the perception that the reading culture, especially among the youths, is declining in Nigeria and do you feel social media is likely to effect a paradigm shift in this regard?
It’s true that the reading culture is declining but I think it is picking up again. The social media has a role to play here; a lot of our youths spend more time now chatting than reading books. People do not spend money on books anymore but it’s easy for them to subscribe to Blackberry every month. You ask yourself, how much does a book cost? If an individual decides to spend at least a thousand naira every month to purchase new titles, you can’t compare what that individual will benefit with what the blackberry chatterers will get. I have not said the social media is bad, but its incursion into our system has shifted the attention of our youths tremendously.
Lantern Books, which is an imprint of Literamed, is arguably the biggest publisher of children’s books in Nigeria; can you give us an insight into how many titles you publish yearly and how many authors are signed to your stable?
Sorry, I may not be able to give you this information. While trying to answer your questions, I want to be totally divorced from Lantern books. I am speaking as Caleb not as an employee of Lantern Books.
What advice do you have for upcoming writers especially those who wish to submit their works to Literamed?
Simple! Don’t see your work as a masterpiece unless your editor tells you so. Be patient; don’t be in a hurry to get published. A lot of upcoming writers have made this mistake in the past; they write a few pages and because they have some money to spend, they give the manuscripts to a printer. Most times those published materials end up under their bed. If you think you have great ideas and good writing skills, subject your work to criticisms, be open to suggestions and never get angry if your work is returned by a publisher. Remember that the publisher would be investing on your manuscript and he wouldn’t want to spend money on sub-standard materials.