Ghana’s AkooBooks relaunches with Beat

Exclusive: The new AkooBooks/Beat platform will reach 19 African countries with audiobooks, podcasts and ebooks.

An image of the current AkooBooks app site at Upcoming AkooBooks platform – expected later this year – will offer “tiered, credit-based” streaming, including audiobooks, podcasts and e-books

By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson

“For those who love stories”

Ohen trade visitors and exhibitors at the Frankfurter Buchmesse hear about Accra-based Ama Dadson and Nathan Hull at the new Publishing Outlook Forum (12:00 p.m. October 20), they will be talking about an upcoming major relaunch of Dadson’s AkooBooks Audio as the premier publisher and streaming platform for Black and/or African audiobooks and other spoken-word content.

AkooBooks’ new evocation is set to be active this year, well ahead of Accra’s move to UNESCO’s World Book Capital in 2023.

Described as a “credit-based tiered service” available on both Android and iOS, the AkooBooks platform is designed as a Pan-African service reaching consumers in at least 19 countries and allowing users to pay using their mobile wallets, the most common form of digital payment in most African countries.

The new redevelopment of AkooBooks as a platform is backed by Bergen-based Beat technology familiar to Publication prospects readers for the creation of platforms for European publishers and groups of publishers.

A Beat platform allows publishers to sell and/or distribute audio products and e-books to their own consumer bases. Examples of Beat’s work in the field are the Dutch service Fluister (Dutch for Whisper); the Echo platform in Romania; a partnership with the German; and a trio of publishers in Denmark – Gyldendal, Gads Forlag and Modtryk. Users of Beat’s facilities now total some 300,000 paying subscribers.

The upcoming “rebranded and reimagined” venture will offer audiobooks, podcasts and e-book titles in indigenous African and Ghanaian languages ​​including Ga, Twi and Kiswahili, as well as curated content in English and French.

Dadson: ‘African Stories by African Authors’

If the name AkooBooks means anything to you, it’s because Dadson, winner of the 2021 Startup of the Year award from Women in Tech Africa, has built a substantial local catalog, as well as castings and recordings in Accra for major players including Hachette Audio. . This has enabled local Ghanaian authors including Efua Sutherland, Ama Ata Aidoo and Meschack Asare to have work available side by side with internationally acclaimed authors such as Alexander McCall Smith (WF Howes) and Tayari Jones (Recorded Books).

Ama Dadson

As early as 2019, Dadson in an interview with Publication prospects spoke of having identified a large swath of African populations and “the challenge facing the busy urban working class in many of our high-traffic cities.

“They spend hours commuting to work each day,” Dadson said, “either on foot or by public transport, and are unable to read during those journeys. Audiobooks can be extremely convenient for them and a way to use their time profitably and keep them captivated and [let them] escape the chaos for a little while.

Dadson, a veteran exhibitor from Frankfurt Audio, spoke in June 2019 at the International Publishers Association (IPA) Africa Rising Seminar in Nairobi, organized by the Kenya Publishers Association. His survey work of 10,000 University of Ghana students found that only 43% said they had downloaded or listened to an audiobook at least once. And of those who had engaged with audiobooks, only 10% said they had listened to content from African writers.

“African stories by African authors, told with African voices. We want to push the richness and dynamism of our continent’s literature for those who love stories. “Ama Dadson, AkooBooks Audio

Now, says Dadson, “Black and African voices, stories and authors deserve their own platform and that’s what we offer here.

“African stories by African authors, told with African voices,” she says. “We want to push the richness and dynamism of our continent’s literature for those who love stories. We want to reach children with accessible digital formats. And we want to reach our entrepreneurs with inspiring business titles.

Hull: “Finally, we are collaborating on a project”

For his part, Hull, who is Beat’s Chief Strategy Officer, recounts Publication prospects“Ama’s drive and passion for audiobooks and storytelling have impressed me for years. Finally, we’re collaborating on a project, and it really has the potential to fulfill one of Beat’s goals in a way major: making books and literature accessible to all.

“Our platform, combined with the support of and MTN, as well as a series of other projects in the pipeline, means that the all-new AkooBooks can bring stories to the eyes and ears of millions of citizens. across the vast continent, all with zero-rated data. Waiver of data charges for African consumers accessing these large audio files was a critical step in our planning.

“While available in several markets from the start, the initial focus for onboarding customers on the service will be Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Cameroon. After that, we will carefully monitor the data to guide us on the next stage of our marketing attention.

“The service will live and breathe on the quality of content it offers.”Nathan Hull, Beat Technology

“The service will live and breathe on the quality of content it offers, so it has been very encouraging to hear enthusiastic responses during our interviews with leading English and French language publishers who want to support the growth of literacy. and access to books in Africa.”

AkooBooks will feature titles from presses such as Afram Publishing and Sub-Saharan Publishers from Ghana, Ouida Books from Nigeria and major international works from writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Dorothy Koomson; and Michael Donkor from the US and UK catalogs of Harper Collins, Macmillan UK, WF Howes and RB Media.

Publication prospects understands that other catalogs in English and French are currently being negotiated to be included in the initiative.

In Frankfurt, join us for the inaugural edition of the Publishing Perspectives Forum, a two-day program bringing together leading and influential professionals from the international publishing industry to discuss the challenges, dynamics and trends of the publishing industry. ‘today.

“The Audiobook Retail Evolution” panel which includes commentary from Hull and Dadson will also feature Jens Klingelhöfer of Bookwire and will be moderated by Hannah Johnson of Publishing Perspectives. Participation is free for all exhibitors and trade visitors to the Frankfurter Buchmesse. The program language is English. You can find all the details and news in development here.

More information on Publishing Perspectives on audio and audiobooks in publishing is here, more on distribution is here, more on digital publishing is here, and more on African markets is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the global media partner of the International Publishers Association.

To learn more about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international book publishing, click here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident member of Trends Research & Advisory, and was named International Business Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is editor of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously associate editor of The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson was a senior producer and anchor for, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute), he has collaborated with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which is now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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