Whether you are a student or a teacher in theology, a simple reader or a retailer, if you are looking for a Bible commentary, a Bible or a Christian book in Yaoundé, you will inevitably be directed to the Christian bookstore L’Eau Vive, which is Livr’Afrique’s relay point in Yaoundé.
Livr’Afrique is an association based in Valence, France, whose goal is to promote the distribution and sale of Christian books at low prices in Africa and in French-speaking countries. Created in 1996 with the help of the main French-speaking evangelical publishers, this ministry is a great support for local missions and churches. This is because Bibles, commentaries and study books are given priority.
From publishers to booksellers
Livr’Afrique works from France leaving the local distributors the responsibility to make partnerships with local publishers. There are currently 13 distribution points in 10 of the main French-speaking African countries and Haiti: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Haiti, Madagascar, DRC, Chad and Togo. These distributors are visited, trained and supplied regularly. Local booksellers and retailers can easily obtain supplies and receive goods on site, according to their needs.
Meeting the challenges of the health crisis
Since the Covid-19 crisis, Livr’Afrique can no longer function with deposits as in the past. Buying books in large quantities from publishers has become difficult because digital printing has become commonplace, and the lack of cash flow affects us all. We have changed our practices and now work on a just-in-time basis with our partner publishers from whom we order according to our customers’ requests and then ship. The books are available via the website www.livrafrique.com and distributed through a network of ” relay point ” (former deposits). The rates of Livr’Afrique displayed on the website are “transport included” until the point relay. For the booksellers who are too far from the relay points we send to their post office box. The customers, according to their status have discounts on the public prices displayed.
The biggest challenge today is the cash flow. On the French side, Livr’Afrique has negotiated prices on annual volumes and orders according to the publisher’s needs. Many Western publishers are also in crisis due to the covid and the war in Ukraine which has caused purchase prices to increase significantly in recent months (up to 40% on paper). This is very detrimental to small publishers who are less and less represented by Livr’Afrique, because small orders cost more to purchase and deliver, which increases the selling price.
Livr’Afrique for a thriving Christian publishing industry in French-speaking Africa
The basic objective was to create local distributors capable of distributing the titles of Western and local publishers. The economic and financial difficulties as well as the very rapid evolution of the whole administrative and fiscal system of French-speaking Africa have added many difficulties. We note that more than 60% of the bookshops are not yet properly registered in the commercial registers and from a fiscal point of view, few bookstores have management tools that allow them to keep their stock and to make a profit and loss statement and a financial balance sheet. This is very detrimental in international trade and will soon become so for them at the local level. Ideally, Western and African publishers could be printed on demand in different countries, but they still need to find trustworthy people to whom they will agree to give the printing rights. Livr’Afrique facilitates the link between publishers and distributors in different countries.
Where to go
To get in touch with us at Livr’Afrique, booksellers and other clients can contact them by email, telephone or the website. As for publishers, there is a restriction. Since we respond to the demand of the distributors and booksellers we serve, if a title is never requested, there is little chance that it will be present on our website. We regret it because we would like to make it visible, but sometimes it’s not economically viable, but we generally respond to all requests.
Our ministry is limited to the Francophonie. But there are missions and publishing houses that make great efforts to support publishers, booksellers and the dissemination of English literature. Connect to Africa Speaks and join the network!