By Caroline Evari
A fellow Papua New Guinean author once told me, “I gave up drinking when I got the response from my fellow Papua New Guinean menfolk that my K50 book was too expensive. A carton of beer seemed more affordable than a reading book”
How many of us have picked up a PNG authored book and gave the exact response?
I have watched people debate all over social media about the “price tags” that are associated to certain products, be it shoes, bags, perfumes, clothing, or gadgets. The same product being charged a little higher by another while being charged a little lower by the other. The most common responses to these are freight costs, customs clearance, labor, markup, transport etc. I’ve even seen entrepreneurs explain some of the lengthy and costly process they must go through with just to bring in or create their products I think to myself, “I hear you and I feel you”.
Just like every entrepreneur, an author invests their time and resource to create a product to sell. The one difference that sets a book apart from other products is value it carries within its content. One book can impact an individual, a family, a community, a village, or a country. If you have ten people in your home, you don’t necessarily have to buy 10 books because that one book can be read by 10 people. It does not matter what the size, shape or color of the book is, it serves its purpose. If you buy a size 16 meri blouse of K50, it can only be worn by a woman who can fit into it. It complements the customers look and size, puts money into the seller’s pocket to help her grow her business or support her household. That meri blouse loses its value overtime, the book does not. The color may fade, the pages may tear, it could get burnt and disappear but it’s content – the words, memories, emotions, and story lives within those who have held it.
With the 2022 national elections coming up, I’d like to see a political party with a policy aimed at improving the country’s literacy rate and Human Development Index. A policy that is specific to prioritizing libraries and books. Bringing back into society what use to be the norm. Reading in public places – in the bus, in the long queues, at the marketplaces, bus stops etc. We say that PNG’s official language is English, yet the standard of English today is below average and is evident particularly on most social media platforms.
To be able to speak better English one must read. To be able to write better English one must read. Having access to books makes these possible.
When you spend K50 on a PNG authored book, you are:
1. Buying knowledge.
2. Making an investment – One book priced at K50 educates 10 people at value of K500 or 20 people at a value of K1,000.
3. Preserving and promoting local knowledge and literature. In the same way as promoting a local SME
4. Creating a chain reaction. Tapping into that space of inspiring more Papua New Guineans to get into the habit of reading and writing.
So you see, buying a PNG authored book goes beyond supporting a local author. If you would like to get into this space, you can start by purchasing a book authored by a Papua New Guinean today.
To get a copy of my children’s story book, send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.