ANIC is looking for ideas that will transform the way that African media work. This means that your idea should offer significant and tangible improvements to existing tools or techniques, or should propose new ways for African journalists to gather news, tell stories, engage with audiences, or sustain media organisations.
Ideas that have the potential to be replicated or that could scale continentally will have an advantage.
An African web platform on which journalists and organisations write, collaborate, publish and sell print and digital books.
Collaborative, profitable platforms to write and sell books are not unique. Newsbooks Africa, however, would be. It would leverage existing platforms to provide a free environment especially for journalists.
With shrinking revenues from traditional news sources, news producers are turning to ebooks as a revenue stream. However, most journalists and organisations don’t possess the tools to produce quality books across multiple platforms or get the audience reach required. Newsbooks Africa gives them that tool, opening up new revenue streams with a free, community-led platform.
Journalists sign up to the site for free. Using easy collaborative editing tools, live chat and messaging, journalists can work alone or together to produce perfectly formatted books which can be outputted to print and digital formats with one click. Through affiliated shops like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Platform, these books could then be sold, bringing a split revenue for the platform and the author.
Newsbooks Africa brings together several successful models. booki.cc and Floss Manuals, each with thousands of writers, are proven examples of collaborative authoring platforms that work. Many online stores (see below) offer proven business models for self-publishing.
j-hub.cc is an international partnership between Goethe Institute (Nigeria and South Africa), Experimental Media Lab (Saarbruecken, Germany), Sourcefabric (Prague, Czech Republic) and Pixelchiefs (Berlin, Germany). It works with journalists and media activists across the world to develop journalism projects for the world of real-time media.
For this project, j-hub.cc would build on its existing African networks, and work alongside the Nigerian Association of Science Journalists and software development hubs from Africa, including act-dakar.net and activspaces.com to hone development, raise awareness, provide basic training and documentation. Siyavula are working already with Sourcefabric on a similar Booktype platform for educational resources.
Two prior workshops in online journalism in Lagos in 2011 and 2012 identified the easy production of print and ebooks as a revenue source for journalists. Using this research, testing and implementation partners have already been approached and a proven, open source toolset identified (Booktype).
Online shops (Amazon KDP, PubIt, Smashwords, Kobo and iBooks) and print-on-demand stores (Paperight and lulu.com) offer proven business models for publishers and authors. Extensive research and metrical evaluation would be undertaken to identify the best platforms and to evaluate effectiveness of the publishing workflows. Design and launch of the Newsbook Africa site would require and include integration with chosen services’ APIs. Online documentation, blogs and newsletters would transfer best practices through the community.
Floss Manuals has shown that such an enterprise can be community managed. Costs would involve server maintenance and a limited amount of community management. Several business and distribution models for the authors would be investigated as part of a ‘lean start-up’ approach to the project, including revenue splits, crowdfunding and paid services around books.