Naivas Supermarket, one of the biggest retailers in Kenya, made a callout for books from writers and publishers from the East African nation on May 28, 2021.

Distribution has long been recognised as one of the biggest challenges of the writing and general publishing environment across the African continent (as discussed on my podcast livestream last week). Just like everywhere else, the Kenyan writer will always struggle to find spaces to stock their books for readers after the sometimes-multi-year grueling task of coming up with the product. There are a few bookshops in the major cities, with Nairobi getting the lions share of the shelves for readers. But it’s not nearly enough.

A new player has entered the book distribution space that will possibly benefit the local writing community; Naivas Supermarket. The huge retailer founded in 1990, known popularly as “Naivas,” has over 60 locations across the country selling everything conceivable under the sun. On Friday, they made a call out on their social media channels for local authors to submit their work for consideration to be placed on their shelves. The statement said in part, “Leading Retailer Naivas Supermarket is calling out to Kenyan authors and publishers looking for an effective distribution network for their literacy and creative works. Being a keen supporter of local economies and indigenous small and medium sized firms, Naivas is providing local authors and publishers one of the largest consolidated distribution channels available locally.”

In the statement, Naivas Chief Commercial Officer Willy Kimani said, “as a homegrown Kenyan brand, we take pride in our roots and it is for this reason that we are encouraging our local authors to come forward so that we use Kenyan stories to preserve our social norms, values systems, and beliefs of Kenyans.”

This is a big deal. An opportunity to sell books where the people are is not something you see every day. I got a hold of Mr Kimani and asked him why Naivas decided to take this route that not many have taken now and in the past.

“We were doing our category review and performance and realized that we have very few local authors; being a local brand we decided to come up with this particular initiative as it tells our story,” he said. “In all towns, we set up shop, we realised that the diversity and rich culture is not as documented as spoken; where they are, we don’t get the books easily.”

He went on to state that they wanted to give local reading culture a boost, give authors an easy passage to the market, take authors national and give them good exposure, build the Kenyan brand by the local retailer and bring more visitors to their stationery category.

So, there you have it. If you have books published, I suggest you email Naivas about your title and you just might be the next big thing.

Read Naivas statement in full below

Leading Retailer Naivas Supermarket is calling out to Kenyan authors and publishers looking for an effective distribution network for their literacy and creative works. Being a keen supporter of local economies and indigenous small and medium sized firms, Naivas is providing local authors and publishers one of the largest consolidated distribution channels available locally.

Books have the power to transport us to lands we have never set foot on, pain vivid pictures that rival our realities, evoke emotions we previously did not know existed before and elicit behavioural change unlike anything else in the world. As a homegrown Kenyan brand, we take pride in our roots and it is for this reason that we are encouraging our local authors to come forward so that we use Kenyan stories to preserve our social norms, values systems, and beliefs of Kenyans,” remarked Naivas Chief Commercial Officer Willy Kimani.

The project will see to it that we have local content in our library section and not just books adopted as teaching materials for schools. We want different dialects that form the beautiful fabric that is our society and, in the process, encourage reading, writing, and publishing of local content.

The retailer strongly recommends authors in any of the following categories to reach out; motivational, fiction, nonfiction, literature, biographies and memoirs, education and reference, spiritual, project management, business, economy, history, atlas, teen & young adult, Sci-Fi &fantasy books and local bestsellers.

Do not miss out on this opportunity, reach out to [email protected] with title(s) and pricelist.