JamLab Accelerator: 15 Minutes with Club Readership

How does this organisation plan to build and cultivate a culture for reading for young South Africans?

The Club Readership Team at Wits University. Picture: Supplied

In this week’s taster to the JamLab accelerator programme team series, we introduce you to Club Readership.

They’re a book and digital book publishing outfit. The team’s aim is to get Africans around the continent and in the diaspora to engage on African books written by African authors.

So far they have published around 30 books.

“Club Readership started by donating books but we soon realised that people were not interested in the books because the books were not African and therefore not relatable to the audience,” explains Mafule Moswane- Club Readership Ambassador Lead Author.

“The books we were donating were to school children and schools were from rotary clubs from outside South Africa. So this meant most of the stories were not for the average African reader. This led us to write our own stories but we soon realised it is very expensive to get published and so the idea to publish our own books and provide publishing services to other authors,” adds Mafule.

He says Club Readership decided to become part of the JamLab Accelerator programme to learn how they can grow the business, to build a publishing company with credibility and capabilities to cater to customers.

“It would be empowering to the Club Readership family and the authors if we manage to build a successful publishing arm that helps to shape the African literature narrative. We are all young under 30-year-old professionals and through programmes such as the JamLab Accelerator programme we can get closer to our goals,” says Mafule.

He says established publishers are usually expensive and they usually have the copyrights to the author’s books and Club Readership is helping writers self-publish their work for a lower fee.

“At Club Readership we currently publish books and run book clubs as a form of marketing so readers and authors can discuss certain books. This improves sales for that book and as part of the marketing, we have an online magazine where we publish articles and whenever there is a new book published we also write about that,” she said.

Mafule shares that one of Club Readership’s successes is that the Gauteng Department of Education bought 89 copies of a book they published, A Learner’s Guide to Academic Success in October 2018.

During their time on the programme, the team’s focus is to grow and scale their initiative.

“By the end of the JamLab Accelerator Programme, we want to have had our business skills well refined and to be able to get the organisation of the ground so that we can hire two people to work for Club Readership full time as everyone has a full-time job. Sometimes we turn away clients because we don’t have capacity, and we are hoping that this will be one of the issues we resolve soon,” says Mafule.