Market Survey for

Ugandan Literature in
A presentation by
Pamela Batenga
Culture Expert

22nd September 2016


Presentation Design
• Introduction
• Methodology
• Findings
• Lessons Learned
• Recommendations
• Future Research Areas
• Conclusion

1: Introduction
• Survey undertaken in April and May
• Commissioned by Femrite and funded
by the Danish Centre for Culture and
• Researchers- Pamela Batenga, Mutale
Ttendo and Gertrude Namayanja


• Quantitative and Qualitative but
largely Qualitative
• Tools used: Questionnaire, Key
Informants Guide, Focus Group
Discussion Guide (for direct
beneficiaries- Gulu, Kabale and Key
drivers for Literature)
• 20 Key informants, 12 FGDs (6
schools, 2 control schools, four key
drivers- 116 FG discussants


• 121 respondents filled the
• 150 respondents targeted and 135
(90%) were engaged
• Attended 3rd Annual National Literacy
conference of March 2015
• Attended the Femrite Readers/
Writers Club Session- 20th April 2015
• Did Desk Top Research

3:Key Findings
• Literature Production
• Marketing Literature
• Vibrancy of the Reading Culture
• Income Generation through
• Consumption of Literature
• The influence of Femrite on
Literature and the Community

Literature Production
• “Publishers receive
5-10 manuscripts
lately…10 years ago,
the publishers would
have to look for the
manuscripts” Publisher

Enrollment for the 1999 UNEB
A level 1797 registered for
Literature in English compared
to History-20,859, Economics29,907, Geography-18,783 (New
Vision, April 10,2000);

“Literature Production is
expensive… The cost of
producing a book of 250 pages
will cost 14,000/=“ (Femrite
Publishing LTD)


Literature Production
• Skills training in writing is limited
and still nose-diving. Also,
incompetence in English and Local
Languages Literacy;
• Literature by Ugandan authors has
increased in quantity and in some
cases, in quality/ winning of local
and international awards, some on

Literature Production
• The cost of production of literary
works is high, not subsidised by
• The level of awareness on the
production of good literature is
inadequate, publishers are not
transparent with authors, no ISBN

Literature Production
• Phenomenon of self-publishing
sometimes due to dissatisfaction with
payments, rejection by publishers,
publishers slow to release royaltieshas led to low quality works
• Authors are gagged by the
expectations of the society and they
censor themselves
• Authors are isolated/ gender roles/
language used

Marketing Literature

The biggest market for Ugandan
Literature is schools especially
for those books that are on the
syllabus and the thematic
“Each school term, I sell
approximately 6000 books to
schools and to parents”
Waalabyeki Magoba
“There is a market for
literature on-line. There is good
Ugandan Literature on line”
Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire

• “In 2001, Marianum
Press published my
novel-Mbayiwa. Fourteen
(14) years down the
road, they have only
managed to sell 80
copies” Published author


Marketing Literature
• Biggest marketing opportunity is
schools, have the ability to read and
write, Syllabus and thematic
curriculum are a push factor
• Ugandan literature not marketed
optimally by all stakeholders
• Publishers are not aggressive
marketeers. Some titles have spent
years in warehouses, put the burden
on authors

Marketing Literature
• Some authors have resorted to
marketing their works, through talks,
moving around with their titles, door
to door marketing.
• There are only a few outlets for
books, these are sometimes sold at
book fairs and directly in schools.
• Libraries are leading sources of
literary works, libraries have what
people are looking for.

Vibrancy of Reading
• “The relatively high
traffic generated from
social media counters
the misconception that
Ugandan’s do not read.
In fact Ugandan’s are
hungering for Ugandan
Literature” Dilman DilaWriter, Film Maker,

• Only 1/10 children
assessed in Primary 3
was able to read a
Primary 2 level story in
English or in their local
language (UWEZO,
Uganda Report of 2012)


Vibrancy of Reading
• Consumption of literature is
adversely affected by the poor
reading culture- poverty, lack of
reading materials, poor and
irrelevant materials, reading not
inculcated from childhood.
• Belief that literature is in English.
• Reading, competing with television
and internet and young people prefer
the latter.

Vibrancy of Reading
• Ugandans actually read but what
they read differs. Some read
religious books, newspapers,
inspirational and self-help books


Income Generation
• “ The money I earn from
writing comes from
commissioned work. I
can earn $1000 for a
ten-page story and
about 25 million for a
full book” Published
author with a title on
the school syllabus

• “In a school term, I sell
approximately 6000
copies to school children
but it has taken me 23
years to achieve this”
Waalabyeki Magoba,
prolific writer


Income Generation
• Piracy is prevalent in the country and
therefore authors are de-motivated
from producing what they will not
benefit from, publishers losing
colossal sums of money due to
cheaper printed materials.
• Print-runs and the rate of returns is
low. 200-500 copies. Some sell out
after 5 years.

Income Generation
• Students and authors indicated that
they were unlikely to make a living
solely from writing, writing not
lucrative because the market is
There was one author who is making
a living solely from writing.


Consumption of
• “Non-fiction does well.
There is a market for
non-fiction…” Key

• “ The sales are not as
big as they should
be…the consumption of
the market is lower than
my productivity. I am
not putting out myself
as much…..” Discussant,
Authors Focus Group


Consumption of
• The novel is the most preferred type
of literature (52.70%) followed by
the play (32.3%). Poetry at
(13.51%) is the lease preferred.
• Most literary works consumed in
Uganda are foreign.
• Schools are the largest consumers of
literary works. Consumption by the
general public is low except for
political, inspirational works

Consumption of
• If a literature piece is on the syllabus
or on thematic curriculum, it is more
likely to be consumed.
• Literary works that are marketed
vigorously are likely to be bought
despite the price.
• The works that are most popular are
those with plots from daily
happenings in communities.

Consumption of
• Some literary works are nonresponsive to consumer needs. They
are either too big or too small, in
English and sometimes they are too
• Low consumption of literary works
de-motivates authors from writing
frequently and translating their
works into other products.

Consumption of
• Spoken word poetry and performed
drama are another way of consuming
literature. Plays are the leading form
of literature in addressing societal


Influence of Femrite
• Femrite is documented as one of the
most organised female collectives on
the continent.
• Several national and international
award winning Ugandans were
mentored by Femrite.
• Femrite is known by stakeholders/
Makerere FGD was an exception.

Influence of Femrite
• Femrite has inspired many to write
and had published several titles of
women authors and promoted
literature in Uganda as a whole.
• The Reading/ Writing clubs in Gulu
and Kabale have enhanced reading
and writing. Femrite was applauded
for the book donations.

Influence of Femrite
• Club members are few-30, most
literature students, no guidance on
recruitment to clubs. Awareness
about the activities of Femrite is
• Femrite advocacy activities with the
NCD are credited for the increase of
Ugandan authors on the syllabus.
• Femrite is on point in addressing
societal issues.

4.Lessons Learned
• Award winners mentored by Femrite
are a visible indicator that Femrite
has been effective over the years.
• Femrite possibly has a hand in the
growth of other literary initiatives.
• The lack of enabling Government
Policies on books, reading, writing
and the use of the library is a major
contributor to the poor
reading/writing culture

Lessons Learned
• The functionality of NABOTU is
critical to the performance of
literature in Uganda.
• The actors in the book industry are
• Literature is important for the
sustenance of communities but if it is
not lucrative, its relevance cold be
lost over time.

Lessons Learned
• The reading/ writers clubs have a
huge potential to enhance reading
and writing in schools as does the
caravan in communities.
• Libraries have the potential to
sustain the drive to read and write in


To the Literary Sector
Literature Production
• MGLSD should develop a Book
• The Uganda Publishers Association
should engage authors on the
process of production


• The NLU should intensify awareness
on the ISBN and enforce the legal
requirement for the deposit of the
mandatory copies.
• NABOTU should lobby the UPA to set
a quota for production of literature in
local languages, put in place a panel
of reviewers, editors and proof
readers, revamp the UWAssociation

Marketing Literature
• Authors' Associations should
capacitate to create and nurture
• NABOTU should lobby publishers and
authors to upload books at ICT
centres and in schools, lobby the
media and private sector to intensify
marketing- book reviews, red carpet
launches, awards.

• NABOTU should build capacity of
publishers to enable them play their
marketing role, conduct research on
the viability of e-publishing


On Consumption of Literature
• MGLSD should encourage the
construction of community languages
to increase access to literary works,
build capacity of playwrights and
stage directors to improve drama
production, engage communities in
communal literary activities

• Authors Associations in Uganda
should encourage their members to
improve the quality of literary works.
• The MOES should encourage parents
to buy books for their children and
increase consumption.


Vibrancy of the Reading Culture
• MGLSD through the NLU should
initiate a book fund to support
publishing and distribution of works
in English and local Languages,
sensitise parents to start libraries at
home, engage the UCC to direct
media houses to develop more
educational programmes

• MOES should develop a Policy on
reading, writing and the use of the
library in schools.
• The NCDC should develop primary
literacy tools in various languages to
help children learn how to read.


Income Generation
• NABOTU should lobby Government to
subsidise book production costs,
intensify publicity for the available
literature to enhance sales returns.
• MGLSD through the UNCC should
engage the private sector in
production of derivative works.

To Femrite
• Femrite should champion the formation of
a Union for writers to enhance their
bargaining power.
• Femrite should form reading/ writing clubs
in communities and increase writing
residencies to reduce isolation.
• Increase publicity about the organisation
at all levels and in all media.
• Enter into strategic partnerships with

• Clarify recruitment to the reading/
writing clubs.
• Spread the book-caravan to other
parts of the country.
• Begin a book publishing business to
publish more books and have more
resources to implement its other
activities effectively.

Future Research Areas
• An analysis of the derivative works
accruing from literary works.
• The phenomena of self-publishing
and E- publishing.
• Mapping of the different players in
the literary sector
• An analysis of the political economy
of the literary sector in Uganda.

Address the political economy of
literary production. It would:
• Consider how labour,property and
ownership work within the literary
• Discuss how people make a living
from the literary book industry;
• And how people including children
come to access and enjoy what the
industry produces;


• It would chart how people would
perceive themselves as capable of
becoming authors;
• How their work is made visible to the
right people in the industry;
• How manuscripts are acquired and
transformed into final products;
• How contracts are negotiated
• And how work is put in a position to
be noticed by consumers.