Publishers Without Borders’ Tanzanian Experience
Thursday, November 27th, 2014
“As I type this, I am listening to Christmas music with my feet up, the air conditioning cranked, looking out at construction workers carrying buckets of cement on their heads with the sun-drenched Indian Ocean in the distance. It all feels very incongruous to the Novembers I’ve always known. I keep forgetting that Thanksgiving is coming up, and seeing pictures of people’s snowy yards on Facebook makes me feel extra smug about the beautiful uninhabited island beach where I spent last Saturday.”
Mary Ann Zimmerman is a Senior Acquisitions Editor for Science and Technology Books at Elsevier, based in London. As part as the Elsevier Foundation and VSO ‘Publishers Without Borders’ project, she flew to Tanzania to organize and teach book publishing workshops across the country. With the collaboration of colleagues from the Tanzanian Commission for Science & Technology, the project amis to provide in-depth training sessions to researchers, editors and publishers in Dar es Salaam and surrounding universities.
Tanzanian publishing landscape, Mary Ann notes, is going through tough times, but “[…] with a little bit of research, we were able to give them some viable options for electronic sales and e-book distribution. Some publishing houses are closer to making this a reality than others, and it’s important to make sure the financials make sense for their business. It’s a challenging but exciting time for scholarly publishing in Tanzania, and I hope our workshop was able to help at least a little bit. […] Hearing their experiences and pain points made me so glad that I do what I do and that there’s a global community of people who want to put quality information into the hands of the people who need it.”